Expanding and integrating Spanish banks networks and systems in Latin America
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo, Miguel A. López-Morell

Topic: Revisit the extant literature on the growth of Spanish banks in Latin America through the analysis of the processes of IT integration. We explore the implementation of global platforms (developed by either third parties or at head office) which replaced, interfaced or co-existed with pre-existing local IT and management systems.

Argument: The exponential growth of Banco Santander and BBVA in Latin America, taking advantage of the general process of banking liberalisation, represented a very complex technological and management challenge. However, the extant literature to date has emphasised the latter and been mute on the former (e.g. Guillen and Tschoegl, 2000; Martin Aceña, 2009). We revisit this lacuna while building upon the seminal contributions of Yates (1989 and 2005), Capmbell-Kelly (1992) and Cortada (2006 and 2011), which provide a framework to explore the construction of global banks as these entities tried to implement platforms they had developed and tested in Spain in diverse competitive environment while dealing with entities of different size and longevity. We document experiences of internal transformation of acquired banks to new IT management systems in different product lines, and how they achieved coordination between platforms at head office, local back-office systems, and the generation of tools accessible to customers while balancing the perceived costs, benefits and risks (regulatory, market, reputational, operative, etc.) in IT implementation.

Evidence: This paper combines the reinterpretation of secondary sources with interviews and oral histories of IT and banking specialists at the holding company in Spain, the acquired institutions and contemporary regulators in Latin America.