Petia Dimitrova: “Reality has shown that now is the time for bold changes and digital innovations – this is why we are the first to introduce them with the unique-for-the-market express banking zones and new generation of mobile wallet”
31 October 2020
Petia Dimitrova is Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of Postbank. She is also a member of the Management Boards of BORICA, Atanas Bourov Foundation, Endeavor Bulgaria Association and the International Banking Institute. She is also a member of the University Council of the American University in Bulgaria, of the Young Global Leaders Forum with the World Economic Forum, of the Young Presidents’ Organization, etc. She has won over 20 prestigious Bulgarian and international awards, including Mrs. Economy, an award by Atanas Bourov Foundation for banking and financial management, Banker of the Year award, etc. Under her management, in recent years Postbank has strengthened its position as a systemic bank for the market with a market share of over ten percent in terms of assets, loans and deposits, and ranks third in terms of loan portfolio and deposits. The financial institution made two successful transactions by acquiring and integrating in record time first Alfa Bank-Bulgaria Branch, and then Piraeus Bank Bulgaria. Postbank has a long-term credit rating BBB-, a positive outlook, confirmed in June 2020 by the Bulgarian Credit Rating Agency.
Postbank won the prize Bank of the Year
Ms Dimitrova, just recently, Postbank won two important awards – Bank of the Year and Dynamics of Development. What does that recognition mean for you and your team?
Awards are always a special moment and every successful business is happy to receive them as a sign of the good work it does. We are extremely happy with the high appreciation for our hard work in the past year. These awards are a positive sign that we are moving sufficiently fast and in the right direction. Another reason to congratulate ourselves is the fact that we have achieved good financial results. We have become bigger and more dynamic in our development, but mostly because Postbank continued to implement innovations in its customer service. We are proud to have received several top international awards for our success in this area. Postbank was awarded for the third year in a row as Best Retail Banking in Bulgaria by the London-based World Finance Magazine, as well as with an award for customer experience in banking in one of the most prestigious competitions in the banking sector – The Retail Banking: Europe 2019 Awards
This happened simultaneously with the successful acquisition of Piraeus Bank Bulgaria and the merger, which we were able to implement in the record short time of four months. Certainly, these awards are also a commitment and motivation of the team with which we have the same goal – to move forward together, and next year, we will celebrate our 30th anniversary as well. Therefore, first of all I would like to use your media to thank again my team, all employees of Postbank, shareholders and especially all customers, for their support.
Postbank is constantly introducing new products and services, in line with the rapid technological development and the trend towards digitalization, which is increasingly penetrating the banking sector. What new things are you planning?
Digitalization is a sustainable trend that covers all sectors, not only the banking sector. Postbank is among the first to introduce the digitalization on the market in service of our clients, following all global trends. Therefore, we will introduce very soon a mobile wallet, which is unique for the market, which will allow the clients to receive even more bank services through their telephones – adding all bankcards in the telephone, contactless payment with the telephone at a POS terminal, card management in the mobile wallet, such as setting up limits for the various channels (POS, ATM, online payments), the option to add loyalty cards, discount vouchers with our 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. The will be many convenient options, and I am sure that our customers will appreciate them.
The digital zones that we introduced in our renewed branch network allow for a faster, better and cheaper service of our customers, and they are the future modern banking.
Innovation and digital channels provide opportunities that businesses, and the banking market in particular, urgently need. The pandemic was an accelerator of the transformation we have been talking about for a long time. It taught us to introduce innovations faster because digital banking is an important part of the service and sales channels and the real situation has once again proved it. Moreover, the crisis has encouraged customers to change their behavior and start using these channels more.
In the near future successful companies will be those that are ready to take bolder steps to provide a better customer experience. But more importantly, the digital solutions need to be tailored to the specific business and its customers, and not introduced as an end in itself.
Our strategy is to continue developing electronic channels for communication with us, one of which is mobile banking, and then turn them into the main tool for daily banking.
This year we took significant steps towards introducing innovations for the convenience of our employees in order to reduce their workload, greatly facilitating their work. Just recently we automated 20 different processes using the RPA (Robotic Process Automation) technology, thus easing the daily responsibilities of our employees. This is the first such large-scale, ambitious and complex process automation program implemented by a Bulgarian bank and I am happy that we did it successfully and quickly, creating convenience for our employees who were ready for this important change.
A few days ago we introduced another innovation for internal communication with the team. With the special mobile application Digital Office we can manage our internal processes even easier and this is highly convenient, as we have many offices and employees throughout the country. As a company that not only relies on innovations in the products and services we offer to our customers, but also care for our team. It is a tool with which we can once again take care of them, making their daily work easier and improving communication between them. The application is a continuation of our strategy to be a preferred employer and our vision for the type of people we want to attract and develop in the company, meeting their needs and expectations.
You launched a complete transformation of Postbank’s branch network and you offered the consumers digital express banking zones. Can you tell us more about the projects?
Yes, that is right. We have launched a complete change of our wide branch network and with our latest digital express banking zones our customers have the opportunity to quickly complete their transactions, saving valuable time, and this is an advantage in our dynamic daily life. At the same time, through the unique for the market service, which we have introduced in line with the best world practices, our employees will be free from performing standard banking operations and will be able to spend more time consulting customers. Currently, the digital zones are available in 32 offices of the bank in 15 cities in the country, where our customers can identify themselves with their bankcard and perform on their own about 90% of the operations performed by cashiers. Our customers can use the self-service devices to deposit or withdraw money not only from their cards, but also from their bank accounts; they will be able to order transfers in BGN from all their Postbank accounts. They will also be able to receive summaries for their bank accounts or credit cards, as well as receive money transfers from Western Union. Our customers will be able to apply for a credit product or repay debts, as well as pay utility bills from their card.
We plan to further expand the functionality of our digital zones, as well as their coverage in the country, as part of our strategy to provide an excellent customer experience for each user.
On 1 October, the ECB placed the largest banks in the country, including you, under direct supervision. What does this action mean?
The ECB’s direct supervision of five of the largest banks is an important step in the process of joining the euro area and adopting the euro.
In our opinion, there will be no change because we are part of a major European financial group, which is already under the ECB’s direct supervision, that is, we follow the same rules and laws. In recent years, we have gone through several inspections, which confirmed the stability of the system and the quality of supervision.
The exercise of dual supervision by the BNB and by the most reputable European regulator, as the ECB is, is part of the process of close cooperation between these two institutions, and as such, I think it will be a clear sign of security and another confirmation of the good practices of the banks, which I hope we will all demonstrate.