Petia Dimitrova: We create innovative products with actual value for customers


5 July 2021


An interview with Petia Dimitrova for Banker Special.


Ms. Dimitrova, this year Postbank celebrates its 30th year on the market. What are the main events marking the development of the bank in this period?

Over this period, Postbank has established itself as one of the largest systemic institutions in the country. We are celebrating our 30th anniversary, ranking third in terms of loan portfolio and deposits in Bulgaria with a market share of over 10 percent and modern digital channels, we have over 200 branches across the country and more than 100 awards for our digital innovations and products, services and social responsibility policy.

During this period, we managed to complete a number of large-scale banking mergers, including the first on the market – the merger with DZI Bank in 2007, the integration of the Alfa Bank branch in Bulgaria in 2016, as well as the successful acquisition of Piraeus Bank Bulgaria in record-short period of four months back in 2019. We have witnessed a number of domestic and international events, including the collisions in the banking sector in Bulgaria in the mid-90s, the global financial and economic crisis of 2008, and the COVID- 19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020.

This brief business card of the successes and events we went through with unwavering resilience is an epitome of the dedicated work of the 3,000-strong professional team, the trust our customers have in us and the unconditional support and resources of the strong international group to which we belong – and I would like to thank them for that! We have established ourselves as one of the most successful banks in Bulgaria, an excellent partner, a good employer and a responsible company.


How has Postbank reacted over this past year to the digitalization processes, accelerated by the pandemic?

The pandemic has indeed played the role of an unexpected but necessary accelerator of the digital transformation in the sector and has shown us that it is high time we took real action. The past year and a half have been challenging for everyone, but also abundant in lessons and conclusions. I could best illustrate them by quoting a favourite Chinese wisdom: “When the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.” We were ready to take advantage of the opportunities that the “wind of change” gave us by betting on speed in introducing innovations to the convenience of customers. It is innovation that provides the energy needed to overcome challenges and change banking. We have effectively rethought our business models and made them more digital, and the workflows have been reorganized very quickly to provide the necessary speed and convenience for both our customers and employees.


How has this affected the products and services the bank offers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of electronic payment instruments, the Internet and mobile banking. Responding to the needs of our customers, we will offer consumers our next-generation digital portfolio. With it, they will actually have immediate access to basic banking services, because the bank will move to their mobile phone. In their new wallet, they will be able to add all their bank cards and manage them efficiently thanks to the rich set of functionalities embedded in the application. These include contactless payment by phone at a POS terminal, card management in a mobile wallet such as setting limits for different channels (POS, ATM, online payment), opportunities to add loyalty cards, vouchers for discounts with our partners and many others. Our customers will have 24/7 active control over their funds, which is essential nowadays and complements the excellent customer experience we provide.

Especially for your readers, I would like to draw your attention to two of the special solutions we offer. As one of the leaders on the credit card market, Postbank introduced the first in Bulgaria metal credit card Mastercard Universe, which provides many privileges and conveniences for customers. The new card was created to meet the highest requirements and expectations of customers and we are happy that we can once again offer them something different, innovative and valuable that they deserve.

For exclusive clients, we have created our specialized Premium Banking centres with luxurious ambience and state-of-the-art high-tech design. They exude comfort and confidentiality, combined with uncompromising standards of service. The design of the spacious and elegant workspaces creates an atmosphere of quality and style, and the carefully selected discrete soft tones enhance the feeling of comfort of high-end customers.

Last but not least, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in 2020, we invested in modern digital zones for express banking, which are already available in 32 offices of the bank in 15 cities in the country and have no analogue on the market. These digital solutions are extremely intuitive, make banking easy, enjoyable and very fast; and they save time and money, as digital transaction fees are lower. I am sure that our clients and employees highly appreciate this as we have been named a preferred bank and a desirable employer.


What trends are you noticing regarding customers’ wishes?

Clients want a tailored approach – to have access to their money anytime and anywhere, to receive an offer drafted especially for them and to feel special. We strive to know our customers really well and to offer them super-personalized services and products based on their behaviour and preferences.


How do you see the future of digital payments, blockchain technology and crypto currencies?

Blockchain technologies have their advantages, regarding cryptocurrencies, the necessary regulations and clear rules to ensure the protection of end customers have not yet been drafted. Twelve years after the creation of bitcoin, there are nearly five thousand cryptocurrencies, whose total capitalization currently exceeds two trillion dollars.

We have been talking increasingly often about a possible alternative to bitcoin with the introduction of the so-called “stable coins”, which are a kind of hybrid between traditional fiat money and very volatile and risky cryptocurrencies.

Banks are carefully researching the possibilities of the new technology and what we could offer our customers in terms of blockchain-based payments. We should not skip the fact that this issue is increasingly on the agenda of leading central banks, which are considering launching their own digital currencies.


What is yet to come for Postbank in 2021?

In addition to innovative digital products and services, Postbank continues to focus efforts and resources in support of projects with real added value for society and we believe that one of the great effects will be building self-awareness that will change our lives for the better.

For the third year in a row, we are participating in the Dare to Scale project – a four-month growth program aimed at entrepreneurs and businesses that have already passed the early stages of development and are expanding their activities. The program is organized by the Bulgarian office of the global business network Endeavor, whose main partner is Postbank. It is extremely important for us to be part of this process, to support the ambitions of companies that are looking to scale their business and thus change the whole ecosystem. I am convinced that this is the attitude that is taking us forward. The times we live in provide us with plenty of challenges, but they will also measure our resilience and our ability to learn and grow. Postbank will share with entrepreneurs its expertise and experience in order to support them in the most important stage of their business development and become part of their growth. We will look for the potential of successful partnerships that allow us to innovate and improve the capabilities of the ecosystem. For us, this is an investment in the future and a chance to be part of the change that takes us forward.

Postbank and Visa have launched a joint campaign in support of Bulgarian healthcare workers and efforts to combat COVID-19 for two years now. BGN 125,000 will be donated to medical institutions as part of The Power is in Our Hands initiative. The aim of the campaign is both to support them and to provoke a sense of solidarity and personal responsibility in each member of society, as these are key prerequisites for successfully dealing with the current challenging situation.

Together with Mastercard, we launched the Green Classroom in the Open Air project to restore and supplement the park infrastructure in Vitosha Nature Park. The implementation of the project is part of the active socially responsible policy of Postbank, related to the establishment of sustainable models and solutions that change the environment. It is an investment in a cause supported by a team of like-minded people who build green self-awareness together, part of the bank’s corporate culture.