Csilla Ihasz, Chairwoman Of The Management Board Of UniCredit Bank Serbia:

Highest Standards of Tailored Products and Services

UniCredit is one of Europe’s leading financial groups, with a presence in 16 countries and the largest network in the CEE region

As part of a pan-European banking group, UniCredit Bank is able to serve its privileged clients with a wide range of tailored products, managing and executing complex transactions, offering unique solutions to each local market and providing the highest standards of services.
UniCredit Bank is the largest corporate lender in the EU. To what extent do local Serbian companies take advantage of this service, and which services and terms do you offer most commonly?
Our international team acts as a Single Point of Entry for all clients, assuring 360° support in the selection of tailored banking products and services. Whether we are talking about simple cross border account opening, flash payments or more complex structured financial solutions, UniCredit Bank stands by its clients every step of the way throughout this journey.That is why we are recognised as the Bank of Choice for a significant number of international companies’ subsidiaries, domestic export-orientated companies and firms with a significant international presence and links. Our strong international knowhow and extensive experience from different locations provide us with the expertise required to adequately serve all of them.

We are aware that EU funds are not utilised fully in Serbia. In order to facilitate this process, UniCredit Bank has joined several EU financing programmes with the aim of easing access to these funds for domestic companies

The international aspect of our Group, and the need to support our wide client base, is also reflected in the global presence of the UniCredit International Network worldwide. Our International Centre is here to offer support in discovering new development opportunities for both international & multinational corporates interested in the Serbian market, as well as companies planning to export to other countries.

Being a “Cross Border Customer” provides a special status, since such clients enjoy preferential treatment in the Group, benefiting from the cost savings resulting from the efficient management of cross border activities.

Numerous funds, banking products and benefits exist in the EU that are often not recognised or utilised by our businesspeople. How can Serbian business be assisted in accepting banks as partners in matters of mutual interest?
We are aware that EU funds are not utilised fully in Serbia. In order to facilitate this process, UniCredit Bank has joined several EU financing programmes with the aim of easing access to these funds for domestic companies.

We signed an agreement on guarantees with the European Investment Fund, aimed at supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. This cooperation provided them with easier access to financial resources, lower interest rates and less collateral requirements.

UniCredit Bank also joined the EIB Apex Credit Line, thereby providing more favourable financing terms for the development of SME investment projects, medium-sized companies or public entities. In terms of utilisation, our bank attained the number one position on the local market when it comes to the implementation of this credit line.

UniCredit Bank has offered more favourable housing mortgages in Serbia than in some EU countries.
The local market has become even more competitive when it comes to housing loans, while banks target eligible clients to offer them more favourable interest rates and additional benefits.

We recently presented our Housing Loan campaign, which aimed to reward those choosing UniCredit as their partner when buying a living space. Through this campaign, an adequate response was provided to cater for clients’ needs in terms of financing, followed by one of the most favourable interest rates on the market, over a period of 15 months. Why 15 months? Apart from the fact that the structure of the product complies with the needs of our clients, this is also because 2016 sees us celebrating our 15th anniversary of doing business successfully in Serbia.

You have a very wide range of products for citizens and companies, including mobile banking. How have your clients accepted this product, in conditions under which new technologies are not yet sufficiently constructed in Serbia?
Based on UniCredit’s analysis, in the next three years the number of internet banking users could increase to 10 million, while the number of mobile banking users will rise as much as sevenfold. This is all evidence that the business environment is changing rapidly, while customers’ behaviour and demands are evolving continuously. Banks need to align with the fast-changing market and adapt their offer to suit clients’ requirements.

Digital evolution is only one of our answers on more sophisticated needs of our clients. That is why we, as a bank, are focused on providing our contribution on the Serbian market, which is still in the phase of adopting and adjusting to digitisation. We are engaged in accelerating the digital transformation of customer behaviour, supporting them in more easily adopting digital concepts that are agile and filled with innovation.

We took our first step into the digital world in 2003, with the introduction of online banking, while in 2011 we were the first bank on the market to introduce m-banking. Since then the number of mobile banking users has grown rapidly, to the point that there are now five million people in Serbia using mobile phones, 47 per cent of whom are using them for internet access. Taking this trend into consideration, we believe that mobile banking services represent the banking of the future – NFC payments, ATM m-Cash withdrawals, Cloud certificate signing, full “End to End” process, etc. Nevertheless, in order to realise this we first need to fulfil the preconditions necessary to ensure higher mobile banking penetration, which also include simple and fast activation and login, a user friendly interface with a “look and feel” adopted to Serbia etc. We are fully aware of all of these necessities and will continue to improve them further, as well as investing in educating our clients.

We took our first step into the digital world in 2003, with the introduction of online banking, while in 2011 we were the first bank on the market to introduce m-banking

How much interest exists among Serbian businesspeople when it comes to initiating cooperation with financial institutions in the EU via UniCredit Bank?
Although we can say that awareness of the benefits of EU sponsored programmes is increasing among local companies, we believe interest can and will rise even more as Serbia progresses on its path towards the EU.

UniCredit Bank is the corporate sponsor of the UEFA Champions League. Given that Serbian teams are, unfortunately, not participating in this prestigious competition, what kind of impact has this promotional campaign had in Serbia?
Although Serbian teams did not participate in the UEFA Champions League competition last year, there are many Serbians who are core players in the teams battling for this most prestigious trophy. On the other hand, football, as the second most important thing for many, long since surpassed state borders and became an international sport.

That is why cooperation between the UEFA Champions League and UniCredit, as an international player, was something that imposed itself. We both understand what doing battle on the pitch means to us achieving the goals that will make us champions.

Just two months ago, as the Official Bank of the UEFA Champions League, we hosted the famous “big eared” trophy. This event celebrated football and our partnership, while it also allowed more than 14,000 football fans in Niš, Subotica, Novi Sad and Belgrade to feel the joy and moments of excitement, thereby impacting on increasing our brand awareness.