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Predrag Mihajlović, President Of The Executive Board At OTP Banka Srbija And President Of The Board Of Directors Of The Association Of Serbian Banks

Agile Transformation Is Key To Leadership

OTP banka’s ambition is to remain a leader in lending of both retail cash and housing loans, but also in corporate lending, paying special attention to the small and medium-sized corporate segment, as well as agricultural financing.

ThemergerofOTPbankaand Vojvođanska banka is one of the most complex projects seen on the regional financial market to date.

As a result, the banking market has been enriched with a large and strong bank that wishes to extend beyond limitations, support its clients in their financial plans, and to be a leader of innovation and the top-notch customer experience it provides clients, says Predrag Mihajlović, President of the Executive Board at OTP banka Srbija and President of the Board of Directors of the Association of Serbian Banks.

“This integration has taught us that careful planning, a common vision and the optimism of our employees are the main reasons why we managed to achieve the set goals. The entire process took place concurrently with the coronavirus pandemic, which also taught us that challenging times can be an accelerator of great ideas, because they because they make us move, adjust and bring changes to our usual courses of action. That’s why, both in life and work, agility represents a key ability.

Do you expect further consolidation of the banking sector or is this now, more or less, a completed process?

I believe that the consolidation of the banking sector will continue, both in Serbia and the region. Following our integration, we today have 24 banks in Serbia, of which the first 10 banks by asset size have around an 80% market share. This is telling us that there is a clear opportunity for further consolidation in order to increase profitability, optimise operations and enhance products and services. In addition, the first 10 largest banks generate 93% of total profit, where RoE stands at 6.5%. This means that the trend of profit concentration increases each year and that banks which are not among the top 10 must change their business model, seek for other opportunities or withdraw from the market. And we have witnessed announcements that this will happen in the coming period.

The banking sector overcame the crisis caused by COVID-19 more easily, while you recorded business results that exceeded expectations. Where do you see the possibility of further market penetration under the conditions of current low interest rates?

Banks were ready to face the crisis, thanks to adequate liquidity. When it comes to low interest rates, macroeconomically speaking, the advantage is that they release available money and thus stimulate further consumption and investment. The economy is growing with the increase of income and profit, which has resulted in the country’s improved credit rating. Our ambition in OTP banka is to remain the leader in lending of both retail cash and housing loans and in corporate lending with special attention on the small and mid-size corporate segment, as well as on agricultural financing. We recognise that cash flow management is one of the greatest challenges facing the economy and we offer our clients a high level of expertise and experience. We are also leaders in transaction banking, including factoring operations, where we have a 40% market share, and thus we are able to ease the daily operations of our clients significantly. Our OTP Leasing and OTP Insurance are also recording excellent business results and follow the bank’s clients with their offers.

Because friends are there for each other in the toughest of times, OTP banka extended the partnership for the next Olympic cycle in the midst of the pandemic without hesitation, and together we are moving towards new successes at the upcoming 2024 Summer Games in Paris

You are one of the pioneers of the digital transformation of the banking sector. Are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished?

Digital transformation is a long-term and complex process which in fact never ends, because the essence is in constant adjustment to market tendencies, and what is most important, customer needs. Agile transformation enables us to set goals, define how we will achieve them and be ready to adjust on that path. Digitalisation has another goal: to change all processes to ensure the quicker, easier and better servicing of customer needs. By simultaneously working on digitalisation and agile transformation, we come to digital transformation and to creating a competitive advantage. And the core of this is changing the way of thinking among all stakeholders in the organisation. We have been working on this a lot at our bank, such that all organisational areas start from the basic premise – addressing the need of our customer.

Predrag Mihajlović

In addition to digitalising services intended for clients, larger banks and insurance companies have recently been considering, or are already applying, software robots that rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Is this also the case at OTP?

We are one of the most innovative banks on the market, where we constantly follow clients’ needs by applying the best world solutions. We achieve this by using new technologies that are dominated by artificial intelligence and adequate data use. Bankers are already available to clients through our online branch, via the chat or video call option, in order to assist them in performing all their work without the need to come to the bank. We were also among the first to introduce numerous novelties that enable contactless card payments via mobile phones. We last year introduced the e-commerce service for the small business and corporate segment, as a completely new sales channel for them in terms of the possibility of accepting payment cards on a client’s website, which is automated and available 24-hours-a-day for all customers worldwide.

We are one of the most innovative banks on a market where we constantly meet clients’ needs by applying the best world solutions

Demonstrating how important it is for users is the fact that e-commerce has recorded significant growth of 80% per year over the past three years and the number of online transactions increased by 103% in 2020 alone, while to date in 2021 OTP banka has recorded 3.5 million transactions via our e-commerce platform. The functionality of einvoices is equally important for all those who no longer wish to work with paper, but rather want to create and send invoices electronically, through the standard security channel, which has been recognised by clients, given that we have more than 20,000 e-invoices per month.

We know the extent of the potential for development of agriculture in Serbia, therefore for all agricultural households we have enabled a completely new innovative product on the market in the form of an investment loan without mortgage, term of which is up to five years, through a software platform that processes more than 100 applications per hour, while the processing time is around 30 minutes per client. This method has proven to be very efficient and results in a quick response also recognised by the European Investment Fund that has approved special terms of support for such a significant enhancement in financing agriculture.

You have excellent cooperation with start-ups and other members of the innovative ecosystem through the Generator Game Changer, while you have also been a long-time sponsor of the OCS. What are your further ambitions in this regard?

In order to strengthen the competitiveness of Serbian entrepreneurship, we are continuing to work on the Generator and are currently preparing a new edition dedicated to ecology and sustainability, which OTP banka contributes to by reinforcing innovations and domestic entrepreneurship.

Common values and striving towards the set goal is what unites and motivates us to support the best among us. This is exactly the reason why we have been a reliable partner of our Olympians for five Olympic cycles. Because friends are there for each other in the toughest of times. In the midst of the pandemic, OTP banka extended the partnership for the next Olympic cycle without hesitation, and together we are moving towards new successes at the upcoming 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

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