Retiree bank employee Alberto Moisés Otero Santana

A whole life dedicated to the Popular Savings Bank (BPA by its acronym in Spanish), and the confession that he does not like numbers -even though his first studies were as an Accounting Technician- is what makes Alberto Moisés Otero Santana an enigma.

More than 30 years dedicated to serving the public and carrying out procedures have allowed him to know the whole framework that makes up the country's banking system.

He is just a few days away from turning 68 and tells how he studied Law while still working at the bank, which made it easier for him to interact with customers.

With complete naturalness and at the same time nostalgia, he tells of his time at the institution, which in its beginnings was a branch of the Central Bank of Cuba in Las Tunas. When the BPA was set up, he became head of the department in the provincial directorate, what was then called private banking.

"In that department, all the attention to the population, both natural and legal persons, was collected. I also looked after the department that was called company banking, which became known as corporate banking, which dealt with savings, as well as other services including social security, payments, collections on behalf of third parties, and different types of loans.

Otero, as everyone knows him, participated in some of the key moments within the Housing program; yes, because the bank was responsible for handing over the title deeds of a group of homes that were linked or basic means.

"It was an extensive work of days and nights to deliver the titles; it also included loans that were not credited, that is to say, those monetary aids that were made to university students, who acquired a debt during this period of study and then paid it off when they finished.

"At that stage, social security was a matter for the bank, that's where the checkbooks came from. That was also my responsibility, until 2001 when the Directorate of Labor and Social Security came into being, and they started to take care of these issues."

The incorporation of automated systems did not come with the inauguration of the bank on 18 May 1983, but years later: until 1999 customer and account controls continued to be carried out manually. Until different computer mechanisms began to be incorporated, which were sufficiently secure to preserve the accumulation of information held there.

We are in 2023, a year in which the country is going through one of the most important moments in terms of banking management. On this subject, Otero spoke to 26, and for a person who does not like numbers, he offered very clear explanations.

"Banking digitization is not something new for the country, we have been living with it for a long time, what is new for people now is the term itself, which means that operations are carried out virtually so that the movement of cash is as little as possible."

"It is good for customers to know that the issuance of banknotes costs the country millions of pesos because the paper and ink used are security; therefore, everything on a banknote costs money in currency. With the arrival of the new economic actors, the money comes to them and never leaves, i.e. it does not return to the banking facilities."

According to Otero, in previous years, if a citizen or entity needed to make a monetary withdrawal, and this money did not exist in physical form, the bank had 10 to 72 hours to count the money and prepare it for collection by the client.

"At the moment, there is indiscipline on the part of some companies that come to you at any time to extract the salary of the workers and do not understand that it is not easy to move such sums of money. If the demand is made within the established time, there are personnel available to attend to it without affecting the service to the population."

"The bank restructuring process aims to ensure that the money collected in commercial establishments, by companies, or self-employed persons is deposited in the bank so that the bank has cash. People must lose their fear of the lack of cash because the country's authorities know that not all people have the electronic devices to carry out transactions.”

So, could we say that this process seeks to put a brake on new economic actors in terms of cash collection?

"Yes, it is a control measure because they are becoming the collectors of currency in the country. And this control goes beyond, it also reaches the state sector, the companies.

"The advantages in this sense are many, you can use payment platforms such as Enzona or Transfermóvil in the retail trade network, MSMEs, self-employed establishments where just by scanning the QR code you can make a purchase."

Since 2018 these new mechanisms have been used, which were closer to banking digitization than people imagined; fear should not exist. These electronic channels only seek to improve the lives of citizens, and the examples on this path are many, such as tax payments and the purchase of electronic stamps.

We are in the presence of a long road ahead, which Otero is not afraid of despite his more than 60 years of age; but he is looking for ways to explain to those who approach him.