Petia Dimitrova: The new bank normality has taught us to be more effective, bold and faster in introducing innovation


04 November 2020, 


When a state of emergency was declared in March this year, small and large companies quickly switched from physical to online customer service. The economic lockdown in the country and in the world led to a decline in turnover and profits, but companies that transformed their operations reported growth. The digital transformation that has begun in recent years has increased its speed and even businesses that did not consider such development took that road.
“The crisis caused by COVID-19 has really played the role of accelerator of the digital transformation of all businesses, not only the banking sector, Petia Dimitrova, CEO of Postbank, says. It has taught us to be more efficient, bold and faster in introducing innovating.” The digitalization processes in the bank managed by Dimitrova have long since begun and are exemplified not only by the improvements in the online service, but also by the digital express banking zones opened at the end of 2019. This allows Postbank’s team to offer solutions to its customers through well-established and well-functioning digital channels.
“We started and maintained active communication with the integrated Bank@Home campaign, encouraging consumers to stay at home, thus protecting both them and our employees,” Dimitrova said about the months of lockdown. The bank is introducing a completely remote process for ordering and receiving debit and credit cards. With regard to lending, the bank offers online consultations via the EVA Postbank mobile application, as well as a real time contact with a bank expert via live chat. This facilitates the clients’ access to information on housing loans and the application procedure
All this leads to increased use of the banks’ digital channels, the customers are increasingly becoming accustomed to using mobile and online banking, and card payments are growing as well. According to Petia Dimitrova, after the opening of the first digital express banking zones, the balance for EVA Postbank is entirely positive. Customers are satisfied because they get another opportunity to complete their transactions quickly, saving valuable time. At the same time, the employees are satisfied, because thanks to the introduced digital service they are free from performing standard banking operations and can spend more time consulting clients. The tendency is for the bank to constantly increase the functionalities it offers in digital express banking zones. Currently, these areas are available in 32 offices of the bank in 15 cities in the country, where customers can identify themselves with their bank card and perform themselves about 90% of the operations performed by cashiers.
“The main focus for us is the development of the bank’s digital solutions as part of our strategy to provide an excellent customer experience for each consumer,” says Petia Dimitrova. The bank will continue to offer more innovations so that customers can choose from a wide range of products and services. The plans include further expanding the functionalities of the digital zones, as well as their coverage in the country. The strategy also includes the development of alternative distribution channels, including mobile banking, which will become a key tool. “Following this goal, we are going to offer a mobile portfolio, which is unique for the Bulgarian market and will be a stand-alone mobile application that provides many functionalities to the customers,” Dimitrova said.
It highlights the functionalities of the mobile wallet: adding and digitizing all bank cards available to the bank’s client, contactless payment at a POS terminal, management of the cards in the mobile wallet, such as setting limits for different channels, the option to add loyalty cards, vouchers for discounts with partners, direct transfers between the users of the new mobile application to other accounts in Postbank and other Bulgarian banks, as well as to other cards in the European Union.
Postbank sees digitalization not only as a tool aimed at end customers, but also wants to help the environment develop in this direction. As a result, the institution established a partnership with SoftUni in 2018. For the bank, this is a long-term and logical continuation of everything it has done over the years to support young people in their development.
“We have set a goal to upgrade the digital skills of future professionals by giving them a hand in the implementation of their projects and giving them the opportunity to start their professional careers in our bank,” Petia Dimitrova says. It is important for the bank that the students at SoftUni can become involved in the real business immediately after graduating from the university, with the necessary mix of competencies, she adds. Their partnership has many different manifestations – the bank is involved in university projects, career days and competitions in which students develop their ideas as assigned by Postbank, which can then be implemented in the bank. The bank also gives an example with the organization of the competition for creativity and programming BRAIN GAMES, which held in their social networks, after which 15 scholarships for education at SoftUni were awarded. The project is also aimed at the bank’s employees, who can upgrade their digital knowledge with training at the university.
Another project with which Postbank supports the entrepreneurial environment is Dare to Scale – a growth program organized by Endeavor Bulgaria with the support of Software Group and the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency. “We joined it with much enthusiasm and desire, and we have been providing support to growing successful companies in the country for a second consecutive year,” Petia Dimitrova says. In 2019, ten companies were selected under the programme, and this year they are 12.
According to her, the examples of successful business are inspiring and their ideas deserve support. “We found not only good business projects, but also motivated people who do not hesitate to move forward and achieve more,” she said. Promising Bulgarian scaleup companies that have passed their first phase of development and need support to be able to grow are at the heart of the project. Postbank stands behind them as a mentor, an inspiration, and a financial partner. And if there are appropriate innovations, they will be discussed and implemented. The cooperation with SoftUni and the support of Dare to Scale are part of the socially responsible policy of the bank.
Returning to the main business of the bank, the acceleration of the digitalization of services in recent months has again put on the agenda the question of the future of the physical branches and bank offices. “The advantages of digital banking channels are indisputable, but nevertheless I believe that traditional banking in the branches also has a future,” Petia Dimitrova says. According to her, there will always be customers who will prefer the personal contact. The physical offices will be preserved, but their design will be different –most of them will have digital self-service areas.