Petr Baron for Money.bg: Now it’s not the time to slow down or stop, but to speed-up
25.01.2021 Share +
We oftenly say that we are a fintech bank, but what exactly does this mean? We decided to tell you more about our business model, culture and values in an interview for Money.bg, where Petr Baron, CEO, TBIF (TBI Bank), shares more on this topic. See for yourselves:
A fintech bank, is indeed not a commonly used term by financial institutions worldwide. But this is how Baron defines TBI Bank because “like many fintechs the customer experience is at the heart of our mission,” he says. “The difference between the incumbents and us is that they aim at building an infrastructure and have customers go to them, simply because they are a bank. We start from the customers and not from us.”
Still, he points out that the company he oversees is a bank because its team understands how to work in a regulated environment and do successful business. For the latter, it is also not necessary to only take his word. At the end of April 2020, TBI Bank was once more named the leader in the country's banking sector in terms of efficiency and profitability by the reputable K10 annual ranking.
In Bulgaria, TBI is a brand known for nearly 20 years when it started its business as a lending institution. The bank in the name was added with the acquired license in 2012, and the fintech part came in 2016 with the acquisition by 4finance, one of the European leaders in digital personal finance. In recent years, TBI Bank has been a synonym for innovation in the financial services in Bulgaria and Romania – its other main market of operation. The institution has proven this once again recently with several new products and services, one of them being a consumer loan with satisfaction guarantee of 30 days.
It is inspired by TBI Bank‘s experience and cooperation with its customers. Working closely with them and listening to their feedback, the fintech bank’s team understood that people sometimes think twice about their plans and want to change them.
“So, we decided to use this concept and add it as a feature on our cash loans,” says Baron. “Indeed, we were the first to implement this solution with our clients, telling them - ‘You are taking the loan, and if you reconsider or find another solution, you can repay it without any tax or interest within a month’. That is liked by consumers, but also by us, because it strengthens our position as a bank that is close to its clients.”
Тhere are plenty of other customer-oriented innovations by TBI Bank. It introduced a fully digitalized loan application process, strong chat support and new features in its mobile application.
Upgrading the chat support function turns out to be an extremely clever move not only because it eases the customer experience, but also because, given that 90% of communication with the clients is through this channel, it further facilitates the possibilities for automation of TBI Bank’s services.
“We know a lot about our customers, and the more we know, the better partner we become,” says Baron. “This is a very important factor, because historically banking has always been: ‘One person wants a loan, goes to a bank branch, fills in hundreds of pages with a lot of information about him.’ This is not user friendly. In the ideal environment for us, we want to be able to predict – and this will happen – when you need financing and just remind you that we are there to help and for this amount we offer the following conditions. Then you press two buttons, and the money is already in your account.”
“At TBI Bank we also have thousands of companies whom we partner with and are glad to share good or bad times with. We back up the point-of-purchase lending and boost the sales of more than 10.000 merchants’ locations in Bulgaria and Romania – from large chains to medium and small ones. We constantly provide them and our common customers with new and better solution. On the technical side work with world-class partners to ensure best processes”, adds Baron.
The highlight of the changes in TBI Bank, however, is not the introduction of a new tool – the fintech bank already offers some of the best on the market anyway – or a product, but the change of its values. This is the topic that Petr Baron speaks most passionately about during our conversation.
“Our business is becoming more competitive, and if you don't deliver real value added to your customers, you're highly irrelevant in the value chain,” he says. Therefore, all three pillars on which the new way of thinking at TBI Bank is based are aimed at adding value. How does this work? By being brave, passionate, and caring.
“These values fully describe us, because as a team we always support each other. For us, work is the place where we spend most of our time, if not all the time,” laughs Baron. “Our customers feel it. In two markets as competitive as Bulgaria's and Romania's, we need to ensure that we deliver on what we promise, because if we don't, people move on to the next offer”.
The philosophy, approach and innovations of TBI Bank have proven to be successful. Despite the worsening situation in Bulgarian business in general, Baron is not worried that the fintech bank will slow down in 2021. In fact, the data shows that the entire volume of the bank's e-commerce business for the whole of 2018 was achieved only in November 2020.
This could not be possible if a company focuses on digitalization on the eve of the pandemic, but only through dedicated efforts over many years. But according to Baron, there is another key factor that leads to TBI’s success - the unique focus on customers, which is not common among other companies in finance.
“We give a lot more and that's why we started attracting customers who are not our traditional target,” he says. “This is the best news for me – we continue to do well because this is not the time to slow down or stop. Now is the time to increase the speed of our digitalization.”
As for 2021, Baron shares: “Technology is at the heart of what we do. We will continue to improve our services and processes as an organization to make customers’ experience as good as it can be – with digital signature, remote authentication and maximum use of various channels such as the mobile application. They will improve all areas of our operations: lending – cash and point-of-purchase, deposit management and business banking.”