RealTime IT News

Terra's Uno-e Gives Virtual Banking a Spanish Accent

The Spanish-speaking world will see its first virtual bank with the February debut of Uno-e, a joint venture between Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. and Terra Networks.

The first Latin Net bank is a self-proclaimed "financial supermarket" which will offer savings and investment services such as deposits, investment funds, pensions, insurance, and will provide online access to more than ten securities markets throughout Europe and the U.S.

Uno-e will commence operations in Spain, expanding to Southern Europe and Latin America later this year. The company aims to win over a million online clients--including the U.S. Hispanic market--by 2003.

Uno-e received approval from the Spanish Treasury in December following a favorable report from the Bank of Spain. This month, Terra (TRRA) acquired a 20 percent interest in BBVA-backed company, and BBVA purchased three percent of Terra.

The strategic Terra-BBVA alliance will be an open corporate marriage.

"[Uno-e] aims to be the leading bank in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world, and for that reason it must also reach agreements with other portals competing with Terra," said Juan Perea, chief executive officer of Terra Networks.

"By the same token, Terra will be making room on its own portals for other players in the online financial market."

"[The BBVA-Terra formula] is a combination that the competitors of either won't easily imitate," stated Pedro Luis Uriarte, vice-president and chief executive officer of BBVA.

Uriarte said Uno-e will be managed as an entity separate from these partners and will offer Spanish and international products and services from other banks and financial entities--not just those of BBVA.

The recently merged BBVA is the current leader in Spanish online banking, with 4.5 million transactions monthly. Its 160,000 clients make up 20 percent of the market share.

Terra Networks, the recently-debuted Internet branch of Telefonica, is currently the leading Internet operator in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.