The partnership between financial institutions and startups is inevitable: Georgi Galtchin talks to HiComm
01.11.2018 Share +
What makes a business product a lifestyle choice and how TBI Bank is employing this strategy on it path to its digital transformation? Check out our the interview of our CTO Geo Galtchin with HiComm magazine to learn more. Below you will read about our new mobile app and how it address customers’ habits, as well as about our 3-tiered approach to bringing home innovation.
How do new technologies change banking and the financial sector as a whole?
New technologies change everything around us. The financial sector is not lagging behind, but the speed at which digital innovations are perceived and the services in different countries vary a lot. At TBI Bank, we believe that Bulgaria is a country with great potential for implementing digital solutions. They will be the basis of how we will interact with our customers in the future. It is the customer who determines the direction – what and how to put on the market. That is why we strive to offer them fast and quality services and the opportunity to use our financial solutions remotely. Keep in mind that TBI Bank has a slightly more specialised focus than universal banks, our focus is on lending. Over the years, we have proven our value to consumers in this segment. That is why we aim to make it more convenient and flexible for consumers, already online.
How do you achieve this transformation of lending and what are your plans in this direction?
Our priority is mobile solutions. For a product to be successful, it has to come closer to the way consumers live. The smartphone is standard. With that in mind, TBI Bank strives to be there and to be part of our customers’ experience. We invest in technologies to make it as easy as possible for people to use credit services over the phone. If we go back several years, all had to be done on paper, even the most elementary operations. These are almost no longer required, as basic services can be made remotely over the Internet. An increasing number of activities are no longer noticed by consumers because they go backwards. This requires solid partnerships with companies and institutions. This automation is key to success in the financial sector.
In essence, the development of a mobile application is the main focus of TBI Bank?
The mobile app we are planning is not an end in itself, but it will cover our entire core business. Quite a lot of our services are now available online, but we will just make it easier for our customers to use them. We will use the accumulated know-how from other markets in the group - the parent company 4finance, and the experience of TBI Bank in Romania. Over there, our customers have the opportunity to make a full online purchase of goods without having to go to an office or meet a bank representative. This is done through video and electronic signatures, and soon these innovations will be presented in Bulgaria as well. Of course, everything will be integrated through the application and can be done from the phone.
How do users view all these innovations? Are they open to them?
The markets are very different and I do not think there is a universal solution that works everywhere. We are experimenting with how it will be adopted in individual countries. In Bucharest, for example, the state of communications is such that when users try to make an online purchase or a service request, it is not always successful because of the quality of the internet connection. This spoils the consumer experience. In Bulgaria this is not the case because in the big cities communications are at a very high level. Moreover, our country has become more and more of an innovative hub for the region and the average customer here is more technically literate.
TBI Bank has two types of users - the first one is the end consumer, but we also work with thousands of our merchants and representatives. They provide in one way or another our products and services. Our goal is to integrate as fully as possible with their systems and capabilities so that the user can remain satisfied. Because it is common: If a person goes to Technomarket, buys a TV and asks for credit - he becomes a client of both the store and us. We also work with merchants for a quick and easy process.
Do the innovations at TBI Bank develop entirely internally or do you also rely on partnerships with startups and other IT companies?
Our innovations are developed in three ways - through technologies of established IT companies, collaborations with small startups, as well as with internal developments. In each of these, we use resources from both the Bulgarian and the other markets in which we operate on. However, 4finance has business in 17 countries and know-how in each of them. We are open to ideas and solutions from all possible sides.
A few years ago, there was an expectation that at one point the classic companies would disappear completely at the expense of digital ones. What is happening right now is a more in-depth partnership between the two types. Established businesses are very regulated, which is a problem for the technology sector. Therefore, in most cases, the correct way is close cooperation between startups, fintech companies and financial institutions.
On the other hand, TBI Bank is a flexible organisation that is fast moving, and that's why we are among the first banks on the market that have begun to work towards digital transformation. In this sense, our goal is to meet the expectations of our customers, and this is possible when we use the synergy of internal resources and external partnerships.
Is security the biggest challenge of digital technology?
In my view, security is a challenge, but not in the usual context that most people perceive. The hardest part is to make sure that enhanced security measures do not spoil and hamper the consumer experience. Behind a simple Internet banking there are many and complex systems that analyse each transaction and action to determine whether or not there is a compromise. The challenge is all of this to happen in the background and to remain hidden for consumers to avoid disturbing them.