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Dušan Lalić, Co-president Of The FIC Financial Services Committee (Generali osiguranje Srbija a.d.o.)

We Need More Digital Solutions

It is essential for the state and the financial sector to work on creating a higher degree of trust in digitalisation. Alongside this, it is important to work on removing legislative barriers that hamper the issuance of digital insurance policies

The outbreak of the pandemic had one good side, and that’s accelerating the digitalisation of the financial sector. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, more or less everything was conducted via branches of the financial sector, which was reluctant to transition to digitisation because, on the one hand, regulations didn’t allow it, while on the other hand, citizens weren’t ready for such changes. Major changes in the field came during the pandemic. Today, in the majority of the financial sector, citizens can complete everything from their armchairs. The state has done a lot on this front and reforms have yielded plenty of good results.

Financial sector services are today available to our citizens 24/7. There is less paper and bureaucracy, and what represents the key advantage of digitalisation is the easy and simple communication and sales process between the client and the financial sector. When it comes to shortcomings, I think two segments exist that require care to be taken. One is trust in digital products.

Research shows that citizens in Serbia have little trust in online purchases, even though the majority of them have smartphones. In other words, there is a fear of being defrauded and misled. We currently have a situation in which the financial sector has new digital solutions, but they still aren’t being utilised much. It is important here that the state, but also the financial sector, provide their own contribution to creating a higher degree of trust in digitalisation. The second segment is regulation.

We’ve launched an initiative to organise an annual conference of the financial sector that would include open discussion of all issues related to the advancing of these activities

In insurance, for example, there are still regulations in place that hamper the issuance of digital insurance policies. Our Committee provided its contribution to the development of digitalisation in this segment through active participation in discussions with the National Bank of Serbia and the Government of the Republic of Serbia on various topics connected to the digitalisation of the financial sector. The next steps, alongside the writing of a proposal for the White Book, are to continue the dialogue with state bodies and initiate new trends in the digital transformation of our sector.

It is extremely important to introduce regular workshops and seminars, in cooperation between the NBS and the financial sector, with the aim of ensuring constructive discussions, exchanging opinions and receiving instructions and directives for identifying the best solutions to protect the rights and interests of users of financial services. Advances must be harmonised with solutions that emerge from the aforementioned workshops. Only the joint work of the financial sector and the regulator can improve our clients’ level of protection. Financial sector education is an obligation of us all, or rather the entire financial sector must work continuously, together with regulators, on the educating of all users of financial services.

Alongside the educating of users, there must also be work on the educating of judges and other representatives of state bodies directly or indirectly included in the process of protecting users of financial services. When all of the aforementioned is taken into consideration, the FIC Financial Services Committee has already launched an initiative to organise an annual conference of the financial sector that would include open discussion of all issues related to the advancing of the financial sector. And I hope to have an opportunity to talk about the results of that conference next time.

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