The fourth industrial revolution, which brings with it the rapid development of new technologies, inevitably demands new trends in the form of financial sector business. A successful bank must follow the needs of its clients. Nowadays, that implies comprehensive digitisation that provides the availability of banking services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the entire year – says AIK Bank CEO Jelena Galić.
To what extent has the Serbian banking market moved closer to banks around the world when it comes to modern technology, interbank communication and cooperation with clients?
– Without the application of modern technologies, there is no survival in the market game. We, at AIK Bank, are aware of that and have adjusted our digitisation strategy to the local market and the needs of users, primarily in the area of retail banking and banking with the small business sector. Banking experience, combined with modern technologies that lead to cooperation with fintech start-ups, results in modern customer services. I consider that banks in Serbia are keeping pace with world trends in banking when it comes to modern technology and cooperation with clients. At AIK Bank we are especially mindful of this, given that we are a bank with a regional focus.
We believe that the implementation of our strategic plans contributes to the improvement of economic relations and cooperation throughout the entire region
In the last few years, we’ve seen the long announced consolidation of the Serbian banking sector take place. How did this impact on the operations of AIK Bank?
– The consolidation of the domestic and regional banking markets is to be expected, given the size of individual markets and the number of banks operating on these markets. Consolidation to date has brought positive effects for banks, but also for citizens and businesses as users of banking services. There has been a significant reduction in the percentage of bad loans, which currently stand at 7.8% at the level of the entire sector, with a trend of further reduction; borrowing conditions for the economy and citizens are significantly more favourable compared to the previous period, which led to a decline in the costs of borrowing. By merging with Jubanka (formerly Alpha Bank), AIK Bank increased its market share on the domestic banking market and – by increasing our share in Slovenia’s Gorenjska Bank – we want to expand our presence and business in the region. By achieving our strategic plans, we believe that we contribute to improving economic relations and cooperation throughout the entire region.
Banking sectors around the world are divided according to the strategic directions of their banking operations and products. How would you determine your bank’s core business?
– As a universal type bank, we have a stable foundation in the retail segment, but we remain traditionally committed to the economy, as our primary niche. In that sense, we are always ready to support every high-quality project, whether that relates to a major investment, a small or medium-sized enterprise, an entrepreneur or a farmer. Lending to the economy is our strategic commitment, and banks and the economy function according to the principle of merged judgements – without a developed banking system, there can be no strong economy, and vice versa. Furthermore, it should be considered that the business model is also influenced by global trends and movements in the immediate region.