Banks: On the way to the digital age – What changes are coming for merchants

Banks: On the way to the digital age – What changes are coming for merchants

With their digital transformation programs at an advanced level, the national banking system already allows merchants the next day to carry out almost all of their transactions, if they wish, digitally without their presence in store.

In this way, banks are also faced with the competition that has emerged in recent years from so-called third-party players who have entered dynamically both internationally and in our country into the payment and personal services sectors which, until until recently, were almost exclusively the responsibility of the banking system. But at what precise stage are the banks currently in the field of digitalization and why will they resist the entry of new players? What can customers expect? Which services are growing?

As Alpha Bank’s Chief Digital Officer, Michalis Charbopoulos, of the Delphi Forum said, it is a fact that we are seeing more and more social media apps, messaging apps, and more. to add services, the most basic of which are transferring value, issuing debit cards and paying bills. In essence, however, as he said, until today we have not seen any such company offer a truly new service, a genuine innovation that has not been offered by banks for years, and in fact in addition to real bank accounts which are also covered by the deposit guarantee framework.

IRIS payments were mentioned, emphasizing that a citizen can send money directly to another citizen or to a professional, knowing only his mobile number and of course with the security of deposits which does not exist in a simple digital wallet. It is a higher value-added service because it covers the actual transfer of money between different banking institutions and not simply the transfer of value between users of the same organization.

– 100% digital services offered

Today, thanks to banking applications, a customer has a much more complete service, since he can make transfers to all countries and banks in the world, pay any bill, issue debit or credit cards , digitize their cards and connect them to digital wallets. , obtain a personal loan, transact on investment products, obtain insurance coverage, etc.

One of the main challenges facing banks today, said Michalis Tsarbopoulos, Chief Digital Officer of Alpha Bank, is to design solutions in the digital environment that offer something between art and science, so that customers, from a wide range of products and services, to be able to easily and quickly be able to find and use them easily and quickly.

Focusing on Alpha Bank, he highlighted that it has designed and is implementing a comprehensive plan to further enrich digital services and improve its customers’ digital experience for years to come. The pillars of this plan are the 100% digitization of daily customer services, the ability to offer all simple banking and bancassurance products through fully dematerialized paths, the enrichment of the offer of complex banking services and products (eg: real estate management, housing loan) thanks to the use of modern technology, such as eg. video conferences, exchange of digital documents and signatures with customers, and finally the redesign and modernization of its basic digital applications, both on the web and on mobile.

– Start a banking relationship without presence in store

On the other hand, Christina Theofilidis, Managing Director of Retail Banking Services at National Bank, highlighted the impressive progress that has been made over the last decade in Europe, with the penetration rate of digital banking services having jumped to 60 %, compared to 35% in 2011. In Greece, in particular, transactions via digital networks have increased considerably, thus limiting transactions in store networks, which currently serve only 3% of cash transactions.

Greece, along with Germany and Italy, is at a digital banking usage level of just over 50%, which is a far cry from other European countries like France and Spain, which are close to 68%, and certainly Nordic countries, where digital banking has reached 85% public penetration. For National Bank’s digital maturity, Ms. Theofilidis cited a recent Deloitte global survey, in which National Bank ranks among the top 20 proposals from a total of around 300 banking institutions, both traditional banks and neo-banks. .

Today, said Ms. Theofilidis, every Greek can become a National Bank customer exclusively from their mobile phone, open their first account, obtain any type of card (debit, prepaid, credit), request and receive a loan in minutes personal, to invest in time deposits, mutual funds and stocks, to insure themselves, their family and their property.

– Tech giants and banks

Regarding the entry of technology giants, such as Apple, in the availability of banking products, Ms Theofilidis, considered that this is a trend that will intensify in the future, as these companies dominate the services via mobile phones.

The challenge, however, is not whether they can offer a single product at a very good price. They can certainly do it, just like a start-up bank if it wanted to gain a clientele. We have to study and we are already looking very closely at the experience that the big technology companies offer to the customer. There we have a lot to learn as a banking system. And we must continue to become better, more human-centric and improve the experience of the customer who transacts digitally with us. This is how we respond to the big tech challenge, and this is how we also increase our digital penetration.

– Investments that exceeded one billion euros

In order to bring the national banking system into the new digital era, total investments, according to convergent estimates made public, have exceeded one billion euros and have been extended to their entire organizational structure. Specific transformation programs that have been planned for at least three years are in most cases at an advanced stage with changes now visible to ordinary customers, the most typical example being the change in appearance of the physical branch network banking.

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