We're continuing our monthly series digging in to data aggregation. We've defined the topic and explained how it's become so important as the underpinning of financial technology. We spoke all the major data agg firms and to their customers. Through that research, we created a buyer's guide — a first in the industry that looks which attributes are important in data agg deliverables and who stands out with what. Now, we've invited on our show Alex Carriles of BBVA Compass. Alex is the head of mobile and online banking and led BBVA Compass' efforts to upgrade their data aggregation partner. He shares with us how the bank's previous technology held them back and the almost-immediate positive results he got when changing to another provider. This is part three of a three-part series on data aggregation sponsored by MX. MX enables financial institutions and fintech providers to grow faster, reduce costs, and deliver exceptional customer experience. Founded in 2010, MX is one of the fastest-growing fintech providers, partnering with more than 1,800 financial institutions and 43 of the top 50 digital banking providers. Learn more about MX here. When did you start looking at data aggregation? We started looking at data aggregation for our first version of online banking about eight to ten years ago. We introduced our financial tools, including account aggregation, budgeting, and expense analysis. At that point, we only made data aggregation available via online banking because it was cumbersome for mobile customers. To be honest, back then, it wasn't like mobile had such an important place like it does today in our customers' lives. One of the problems we had early on was low adoption rates. People would see the tools, but there wasn't a compelling reason to use them. Some people weren't comfortable entering the credentials from their other financial institutions. At the end of the day, it was very slow adoption throughout the years. We fell way short of our adoption goals. Categorization is key At one point, we started looking at what else was available in the market. I met the MX guys at one point and started seeing what their solution looked like. What stood out for me was the very clean user interface, the easy to understand processes and how good it looked and performed. The heart of data aggregation is a really good categorization engine, without which everything else you do is irrelevant. You can't do budgeting or expense analysis if your categories are wrong. How can you provide any reporting if all your categories are wrong? The engine should also be flexible enough when I have a unique situation or a vendor who doesn't show up correctly. The tool should eventually learn that when I go to XYZ store, I'm buying auto parts, even if that store sells other things. Implementing modern data aggregation for web Fast forward to this year and we had already deployed MX's solution for online banking. The adoption was extremely quick. In one year, we had more people using account aggregation than the previous eight years combined. It was a noticeable difference and the customer feedback was very positive. On our landing page, we had a summary screen for online banking with a chart that shows a customer's expenses. It piques customer interest and when they click on it, they enter the tool and start playing with it. It was a great way to open the door to adding external accounts to get a full picture of all a customer's accounts. We know customers have accounts in more than one place. If you can really show the full picture, end-to-end, with all their accounts and all their cards, that is really a powerful tool. When we introduced data aggregation on mobile, within five months, the average monthly users aggregating external accounts in the app had increased 101 percent. Hindsight is twenty twenty: Learnings from launching data agg There was a popular opinion among industry people that people wouldn't bank on their mobile devices. It will be harder to see versus a desktop computer. People move in and out of apps on mobile and don't want to dwell on details and analysis. Well, the reality was all of that proved to be wrong when we launched financial tools in mobile given the adoption rates we saw. If I could do something differently, I wish we would have launched our financial tools more quickly in mobile. Moving up the value chain with data One of the things that we think there's tremendous value to is to generate insights into our customers' full financial picture, helping them improve their financial lives. Longer term, we could analyze all our clients' accounts and spending and provide them recommendations across all of them. Those types of analytical tools will help us deliver the value our customers expect from BBVA Compass.