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PANAMA - Finance

Javier Enrique Carrizo Esquivel

CEO, Banco Nacional de Panamá


Javier Enrique Carrizo Esquivel studied business management in Babson College, Wellesley in the US and holds a vast experience in different banks. He was the general manager of PRIBANCO during its merger with Banistmo until 2003, the executive vice president of Banco Uno in Costa Rica until 2005, the first vice president of Multibank until 2019, and is currently the General manager of Panama National Bank and Director of Petroterminal and Cable & Wireless.

"Panama has a well-developed, modern, and successful international banking center, with over 65 banks engaging in financial activities."
Banco Nacional is reshaping its services by prioritizing customer-centric digitalization efforts, modernizing online and mobile banking, and leveraging more technology.
What is your view of the current state of the finance sector in Panama?

Panama has a well-developed, modern, and successful international banking center, with over 65 banks engaging in financial activities. The Superintendence of Banks of Panama oversees the financial sector to ensure banks are fully compliant with regulations. Banking legislation is compliant with the Basel Core Principles. The Panamanian banking system has remained resilient during economic cycles due to its strong capital base and high liquidity levels. We envision the Panamanian banking system headed in the direction of digital banking, consolidation, AI, and sustainability. In digital banking, the pandemic has accelerated the need to update contactless banking through electronic channels. This trend will continue with the introduction of innovative banking methods and new payment channels that facilitate financial transactions without having to physically go to a banking office. Additionally, digital financial methods will include segments of the population that are not being served or underserved. Banks’ consumer behavior is shifting toward fast, technology-based banking. Panama’s banking system will also continue with its consolidation process, as banking institutions focus on being more efficient. Banking models need to be adjusted, as more electronic banking will require less physical presence and therefore fewer branches. The use of AI tools to manage risks by analyzing large volumes of complex data, identify patterns, and predict outcomes will aide in effectively mitigating credit risks, market risk, liquidity risk, and detecting suspicious activities that indicate the possibilities of fraud or in appropriate use of banking services. Lastly, a more inclusive financial system is needed for long-term growth along with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. Banks will need to focus on sustainable bonds, sustainability-related syndicated loans, sustainability-linked loans, and clean energy financing, among others. Banks must prepare themselves for the use of frameworks and or standards for sustainability-related financial products. Through environmentally friendly investing, the banking system will be able to contribute to mitigating climate change in Panama.

How is Banco Nacional reshaping its services in line with digitalization?

Banco Nacional has placed people at the center of our digitalization efforts. We are redesigning our digital channels with “His majesty the customer” experience as the focal point, modernizing online and mobile banking so that our clients can access transactions and services conveniently from their mobile devices or computers. Internally, we have digitalized our processes to enhance the experience of our employees, resulting in faster and higher-quality responses to our customers. We have harnessed technology to transcend institutional boundaries by integrating with external entities for the benefit of our clients, as exemplified by the digital registration of mortgages. Data is seen as a significant source of opportunities to better understand customer needs, create, and offer services and products that cater to those needs. We are developing data analysis capabilities that enable data-driven decision making at all levels of the organization.

What strategies has the bank followed to reach a total capitalization of USD1,000 million (USD350 million in this four-year period) representing an increase of 54%?

Since the beginning of this administration in June 2019, our interest has been to strengthen the bank’s capital and reaffirm its financial solidity. To achieve this, we have worked on renewing the dividend payment policy to the government, which was renewed indefinitely. This policy allows the delivery of up to 50% of the profits generated in the year, provided that the bank fulfills the required regulatory capital adequacy guidelines, internal policies, and accounting reserves, and complies with financial covenants. The remaining 50% of profits will be retained by the bank for capitalization. Taking this into consideration, a capitalization plan was established, starting with USD100 million in 2020 followed by another USD100 million in 2022 and an additional USD150 million this year, reaching a total of USD1,000 million in contributed capital. This represents a 54% increase in the bank’s contributed capital and places Banco Nacional as the leading Panamanian bank in terms of contributed capital.



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