BBVA Compass doubles down on Birmingham

December 22, 2015

Birmingham is in an enviable position to take advantage of the explosive growth of financial technology, BBVA Compass Chairman and CEO Manolo Sánchez argued in a recent op-ed, and the bank has doubled down this year on its commitment to the Alabama city in a number of ways.

With its legacy as home to the Big Four in banking, which vaulted it into rare territory as one of the country's largest banking centers, Sánchez wrote, the city is well-positioned to become the next Austin or Nashville or Raleigh, cities that all have established tech scenes that brought substantial benefits to their cities.

“Birmingham is an important, historic city and it plays a central role in our organization,” Sánchez said. “We have more employees in Birmingham than any other city in our footprint and we built our game-changing $360 million technology platform in the city. So it’s right that we demonstrate — and extend — our commitment in tangible ways to a city that plays such a critical role for BBVA Compass.”

The bank unveiled its state-of-the-art Development Center in March in Birmingham, and then capped off the year by officially debuting BBVA Compass Field at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Below, a highlight reel of the bank’s year in Birmingham.


The BBVA Compass Development Center: March saw the grand opening ceremony in Birmingham of BBVA Compass’ newly renovated, state-of-the-art $13.5 million Development Center, a workspace inspired by Silicon Valley and its agile, collaborative environments. The special guests at the event — Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Birmingham Mayor William Bell — telegraphed the importance of the event for the bank, which sees the new space as emblematic of its digital future and commitment to Birmingham.

BBVA Compass Cross Industry Development Center at Innovation Depot: BBVA Compass announced the opening of its Cross Industry Development Center at Birmingham’s Innovation Depot in May. Bank employees there work on technology products for the bank in collaboration with other companies in the business incubation facility. A few weeks later, BBVA Compass rolled out BBVA Hoops, its mobile gaming app developed with Birmingham-based startup Platypi. The app is an example of the kinds of projects the bank will initiate at its center in Innovation Depot, which is home to Platypi and several other startups.

Fintech Smartwatch Challenge: BBVA Compass and MediaNet Software joined forces with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Innovation Lab in August to identify talented student developers in a two-week fintech smartwatch challenge. The challenge to UAB iLab students underscored the companies' combined desire to foster local talent and build future innovators and entrepreneurs. The collaboration was fostered through the UAB iLab, which serves as a conduit between students and the entrepreneurial community and allows students to apply classroom knowledge directly with industry partners.


City of Birmingham working group: At the 2015 African American Mayors Association conference, Birmingham Mayor William Bell announced that BBVA Compass and the City of Birmingham were teaming up to push forward the city’s renaissance by forming a working group to explore ways the bank can support the city's economic and community development programs and strengthen its 23 communities and 99 neighborhoods. The news was part of the bank's pledge to put $11 billion in lending, investments and services toward supporting low- and moderate-income individuals and neighborhoods across its footprint.

BBVA Compass Field at UAB: Officials from BBVA Compass and the University of Alabama at Birmingham officially debuted the city’s newest sports venue, BBVA Compass Field, in December and marked the start of its final phase of construction. The field was named in honor of the BBVA Compass Foundation’s $1.5 million gift to the university, and will be the first impression visitors have as they enter campus from I-65.

Special events

BBVA Compass Economic Forum with Steve Wozniak: BBVA Compass brought Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to Birmingham in March as part of its economic forum series. A titan in the tech industry, Wozniak focused his talk on technology and the economy, offering expertise to the bank’s clients in a useful and sophisticated way.

El Celler de Can Roca in Birmingham: BBVA Compass Birmingham clients were taken on a culinary journey in August, with the Roca brothers from the No. 1 restaurant on the influential World's 50 Best Restaurants list treating them to 18 haute-cuisine courses as part of the BBVA El Celler de Can Roca tour. The brothers offered up their wildly innovative gastronomic creations to 200 bank clients over two nights at Vestavia Country Club.