Letter to the Editor: Tatra Banka far better than article claimed

Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on and correct information presented in an article that appeared in the September 6-12 issue of The Slovak Spectator ["Client banking services on Slovak market lag far behind West," Vol. 5 No. 33].

The author of the article [Tom Nicholson - ed. note] used comments that I had made about the Slovak banking sector without my authorisation, inserting them in an article which showed his own pre-determined views on the issue. This saddened me, because it might have led the reader to believe that Tatra Banka (together with other mainly state-owned banks) does not offer proper services to its retail customers.

I would here like to correct the perception that readers might have got having read the article about banking services.

It is my belief that Tatra Banka is 'head and shoulders' above other retail banks, and judging by its medium-term performance, it does not face a very close rival in the retail business. Tatra Banka is the one bigger retail bank operating in Slovakia where (compared to the experience of a customer mentioned in The Spectator article) a client has the highest probability in finding English or German speaker to assist in a transaction. In addition, the bank has a branch in Bratislava that is open around the clock, seven days a week, and is making good progress in eliminating time delays for customers by offering active operations with an account over the phone or internet and sending account change statements even to your mobile phone, if you request it.

Therefore, it would be rather incorrect to assume that the bank could reasonably be compared with banks that, for example, do not even have on-line connected branches for the customer to be able to withdraw money at a different branch of the same bank. The low competition on the domestic retail banking market, which does not create pressure to improve services, affects services provided mainly by other retail banks, and not so much that offered by Tatra Banka. It would be foolish to say that Tatra Banka has already reached an 'Anglo-Saxon' quality level of banking services, but the bank is positively far ahead of most of the other retail banks in Slovakia.

Ján Toth
Chief Economist
ING Barings, Bratislava

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