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INTERVIEW - Bank Super Apps and Digital Banks as potential strategies for growth in the region

INTERVIEW - Bank Super Apps and Digital Banks as potential strategies for growth in the region Photo: Software Group

Banks in Southeast Europe (SEE) are consolidating their mobile banking wallets or apps into a single app that can include third party services,Teodora Krastanova, ECA Business Development Director, Software Group, says.

To deal with issues related to the integration of their legacy systems and processes, banks in SEE are either implementing a digital banking platform that provides the necessary integration tools and supports the business processes, or creating a digital "greenfield" bank that operates independently from the organisation's core business, Krastanova notes.

Whatever the need of the financial institution is, a technology that enables end-to-end digital processes, fast time to market and scalability is the winning path to take, she comments.

Following is the full text of the interview:

What key trend would you single out in the development of mobile banking apps in SEE?

Mobile banking continues to grow throughout Europe and mobile wallets are projected to see the biggest percentage growth among payment methods in Europe through 2025 ('FIS Global Payments Report').

What we observe in the SEE region is that banks are offering mobile banking wallets or apps that are often indistinguishable from one another. In addition, banks often use multiple apps to offer their full range of services to customers. The trend is to consolidate these into a single bank app or a "bank super app" that includes third party services such as travel, lending, insurance, bill payments, merchant services, etc. A bank app or e-wallet can either evolve gradually into a super app or be designed as such from the outset.

What is the main issue banks face in this process and how are they addressing it?

One of the main challenges that banks face in the SEE region when it comes to digital transformation is the integration of legacy systems and processes. To fully adopt a new digital channel, these systems and processes need to be consolidated and redesigned. However, upgrading old technology that is deeply embedded in the bank can be a costly and time-consuming process.

One potential solution is to implement a digital banking platform that not only provides the necessary integration tools but also supports the business processes and user experience (UX/UI) needed for a successful transition. This allows the bank to introduce new solutions such as an e-wallet or a bank super app while still utilising its legacy system.

Another option is to create a digital "greenfield" bank that operates independently from the organisation's core business and allows for the faster and easier implementation of completely new digital processes. The greenfield bank becomes an incubator for innovations, experimenting and learning, which allows for the best concepts to be brought to the mainstream bank. The two brands can coexist together, fulfilling different customer needs, or the umbrella bank can gradually move its operations over to the digital brand.

What is the approach that Software Group offers?

Software Group provides the technology and the expertise to support banks and financial institutions in both scenarios through our robust DigiWave Digital Banking Platform. Based on a modular architecture, the platform comes with pre-built solutions and functionalities such as Digital Onboarding, Mobile Wallet, Everyday Banking, Lending, Cards, Merchant Management, Agency Banking, and more.

Through it, we have helped financial service providers in the region and beyond to introduce cutting-edge banking apps & mobile wallets of different business models. For example, ONE Wallet by Postbank Bulgaria consolidates a wide variety of payments (including contactless) into one, KICB’s super app in Kyrgyzstan is built upon a full payments’ ecosystem around the customers via 320+ external integrations; Dosh New Zealand is the first mobile wallet in the country, which revolutionises payments and enables both customers and merchants to pay and get paid instantly; and the list goes on.

We also work with banks who are in the process of building their separate digital brands for various reasons - to target a specific customer audience, to accelerate financial inclusion in regions where physical branches are scarce and to introduce new digital processes altogether.

Whatever the need of the financial institution is, a technology that enables end-to-end digital processes, fast time to market and scalability is the winning path to take.

 
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