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CHAMBER COLUMN

Innovations in banking

BANKING has always been a fairly conservative business, however it does not shy away from implementing high-end technology, and the fast-paced development in electronic and mobile technologies has been making its mark on banking. Michal Grajciar, head of electronic channels and payments at Slovenská Sporiteľňa (SLSP) bank and Marína Smolková, spokesperson of Tatra Banka talked about innovations, implementation of technological novelties and security.

BANKING has always been a fairly conservative business, however it does not shy away from implementing high-end technology, and the fast-paced development in electronic and mobile technologies has been making its mark on banking. Michal Grajciar, head of electronic channels and payments at Slovenská Sporiteľňa (SLSP) bank and Marína Smolková, spokesperson of Tatra Banka talked about innovations, implementation of technological novelties and security.

How do you assess implementation and usage of technological advances like mobile applications, QR codes, contactless payments, NCF and the like in the banking sector in Slovakia, also in comparison with abroad?
Michal Grajciar (MG):
The latest technological advances in banking applications enjoy a lot of interest from clients in Slovakia. With regards to QR codes, these are currently becoming a standard on the Slovak market. More time is needed, however, before particularly large utility, financial and telecom companies, as well as the post office, start using these codes on their invoices and thus enable their clients to settle them in an even simpler way.

People are also gradually starting to like contactless payments since they are simple, fast and convenient. They save time spent at cashiers, clients do not need to hold cash and moreover the card remains in the client’s hands throughout the entire transaction. Contrary to cash payments, all contactless transactions show up on the account statement, enabling clients to keep track of their spending. Currently all debit cards are issued as contactless.

Marína Smolková (MS): It is natural that Western countries are a primary source of technological advances and are thus more easily adopted by their users. But this gives us an advantage, as we can watch how these trends develop in neighbouring countries and thus make improvements on them.

Tatra Banka responded to the arrival of smart phones in 2009 when it launched an optimised internet banking browser for mobile phones. In 2010 we, as the first bank in Slovakia, introduced the application for the iPhone. The application for the Android operating system followed in 2011. In December 2011 our bank, with the launch of the application Čítačka (Reader), which is a software tool for secure authentication, facilitated a sign-in process for internet banking via PCs.

What new technology has your bank introduced recently, or what does it plan to launch?
MG:
In October 2011 SLSP was the first bank to offer the Scanner application, a mobile banking application for smartphones. This is a popular single-purpose application enabling the client to scan the barcode of a postal money order and settle it without having to enter any data. The Scanner became part of our Payments application in August and thus now it not only serves to make payments, but also scans postal orders or BSQR codes and their settlements.

SLSP has also implemented By Square, a solution developed by the Slovak company Forsys, enabling clients to pay invoices by scanning QR codes. SLSP also prepared two new applications for iPhones, Accounts and Payments, for more user-friendly e-banking. SLSP clients have at their disposal mobile internet banking IB MINI with the support of all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Symbian, RIM and WinMobile 7).

MS: Tatra Banka launched two significant innovations this year for payment cards – contactless payments by mobile phones and issuing payment cards at bank branches while one waits. We are improving our applications in mobile phones, where we have recently introduced a service for scanning postal money orders and refurbished the application for private banking clients – art collectors – under the name ArtConsulting. This spring Tatra Banka, was the first bank in the EU to bring to clients using iPhones the ability to settle their payments via contactless payment terminals with our application for mobile payments.

What security measures should bank clients undertake when using these new applications?
MG:
Mobile applications are based on the same security standards as internet banking. Moreover, for mobile applications we require clients to sign in using a four-number PIN code. The connection between the browser of the client and the bank’s server is protected by a security certificate. Usage of internet banking with a mobile phone, compared with a computer, does not represent for clients a higher risk, but there are basic security rules that clients should always adhere to. They should be careful about the software they install onto their mobile phones, never open suspicious e-mails in mobile phones, must not share user names and passwords with anybody, and should check the certificate of the bank via the internet browser in the mobile telephone when communicating with the bank.

MS: In the case of payment cards or access to applications, internet banking clients should firstly never reveal their PIN code. Equally they should not lose their ID card and keep their payment card or mobile phone, iPad or notebook under constant supervision. Even though the security of our services is paramount for us, we cannot affect the updating of antivirus software on the side of the client, or prevent the client from not being careful with his or her payment card.

How do you perceive the interest of your clients in using these technologies?
MG:
As the interest in new technologies in other fields of our lives grows, the same is true in banking. Naturally, younger generations in particular are the most interested in technological advances in e-banking.
MS: We factor in a longer period of time before clients fully adopt them. This is because it is our task to acquaint our clients with new solutions and win their trust, because they may not be familiar with a particular service, or something similar to it, at all. Our surveys indicate that interest keeps growing. Our clients assess these innovations as exceptional, making banking services more user-friendly and effective.

This column is prepared in cooperation with AmCham, the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia, www.amcham.sk. The questions were prepared by The Slovak Spectator.

Topic: Finances and Advisory


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