We are aware of the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic, but we were also ready to face them, so their impact on our operations will be much smaller than will be the case with companies that weren’t orientated towards their own priorities – and those are clients and employees, and digital services, where we have been pioneers in many areas
ProCredit Bank is the only bank in Serbia with a hundred per cent German capital, which also has a direct impact on the way this bank operates and approaches its clients.
“We are guided by the principles that characterise the German economy, and those are precision, responsibility, security and quality. Investing in education, both of our colleagues and our clients, is a standard for us, and our commitment to focus on preserving the natural environment in everything we do is no less important,” says Ivan Smiljković, member of the ProCredit Bank Executive Board.
Being a German bank in Serbia also implies that a system of double control exists – on the part of the National Bank of Serbia and the German Board for Banking Supervision, BaFin, which takes care to ensure that all banks with German capital respect the same rules, regardless of where they operate, says our interlocutor, adding that “this type of control serves as a guarantee to our clients that we are an institution that they can trust and that they can rely on, and the previous period only proved this fact”.
Which of your services are digitalised?
– We started the digital transformation six years ago and can now state with pride that the client can complete everything they needs from the bank from their home. Also testifying to this is the fact that we recently launched the most modern way of communicating with individuals, and that is the ability to open an account via video identification. In just a few minutes, in a video conversation with our advisor, anyone who is interested can open an account and activate electronic and mobile banking, while payment cards are delivered to clients at their home address.
We recently launched the most modern way of communicating with individuals, and that is the ability to open an account via video identification. This is just one of the digitalised services with which we’ve enabled clients to conduct their business with the bank from home
We are one of the first banks in Serbia to introduce the Apple pay option, through cooperation with Mastercard. Clients can now perform transactions more securely using just their phone. It is not necessary to enter the PIN code at a POS terminal to authorise the transaction, regardless of the amount, rather the transaction is authorised through a fingerprint or face ID and placing the phone close to the contactless reader at the point of sale.
Internally, we have implemented the so-called “paperless concept”, with which the need to print documentation is reduced or eliminated completely. Every employee of our bank has a qualified electronic certificate that they use in their daily work. We have thus significantly reduced the need for printed paper and contributed to protecting the environment.
How is your bank helping SMEs to overcome the crisis?
– Small and medium-sized enterprises are the driving force of our economy, which is why we believe that they need considered and long-term assistance, both in an advisory and financial sense, as well as through effective and achievable strategies and cooperation with development funds (IPARD, EIF), which we’ve also offered clients in times like these. We are all on an unfamiliar ground when it comes to the duration of the pandemic, and as we view clients as partners, our support has not been lacking during the past six months – whether that related to approving postponements on repayments, making new placements or the advisory role for which our bank is recognised.
Do your clients also use part of their loans for digital transformation?
– ProCredit Bank’s corporate clients are among the group of the most respectable companies that are aware that digitalisation is not just a buzzword, but rather that the benefits of digitalisation are visible in all segments of business – both in more efficient processes that save time and money, and in the quality of the services that are provided to clients.
We will strive to maintain our good position on the international list of institutional investors, but also to improve it, because it is only through progress, improvement and innovation that we can respond in the right way to all the current and future needs of our clients
Fitch Ratings recently confirmed the investment rating of ProCredit Bank in Serbia. What does this decision mean to you?
– Confirmation of a good credit rating by one of the world’s largest rating agencies during times of crisis is an indicator that our operations in Serbia are extremely stable. It was likewise assessed that we have the absolute support of our shareholder – ProCredit Holding, which means that all our financial and business risks are minimal. We will strive to maintain our good position on the international list of institutional investors, but also to improve it, because it is only through progress, improvement and innovation that we can respond in the right way to all the current and future needs of our clients.
What impact will COVID-19 have on the operations of banks in Serbia and how do you respond to these challenges?
– It was precisely during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic that we confirmed that all our investments in the digitalisation process made sense in multiple ways.
The banking system is extremely agile and always ready to adapt to new challenges. Our aim is to exit this period professionally and responsibly, to be available to our clients, and to consider our employees while doing so. We are aware of the consequences, but we were also ready to face them, so their impact on our operations will be much smaller than will be the case with companies that weren’t orientated towards their own priorities – and those are clients and employees.