Balazs Topor is SME Product & Segment leader at Raiffeisen Bank. He has more than 15 years’ experience in SME banking and in-depth expertise in customer value creation, segment differentiation and product design.
Continuing with the SME Finance Forum Interview series, we want to address another underserved segment - SMEs - and learn about digital transformation in banks targeting this important consumer group.
1. What does innovation mean for you?
Innovation is one of those overused words, and has come to signify a wide array of concepts within banking, tech, Fintech and has lost its true definition. In my opinion, innovation is the simplification of old-school practices. Banks especially are playing in a different field than Fintechs: we are not a niche player, we are addressing the needs of masses. Therefore innovation should really be a way to make things simpler, easier for the user and in a more cost-efficient way.
2. What about the key trends in SME Banking and changes in the future?
First and foremost, customer needs are becoming more complex - SMEs no longer see their banks as suppliers of financial products, they want to have a business partner, who can understand their overall financial picture and future growth strategy. Besides all the digitalisation and transformation that’s happening in banks, I still believe that human factor will remain important. When it comes to changes and new trends, banks will focus on different customer acquisition channels, move to fully digital mobile applications and educate SMEs in how to use those new technologies to fully maximize the benefits of services provided.
3. In your opinion, what are the key macro challenges for SMEs?
All of this starts with a better understanding of SME needs - we have identified that the perfect tools for businesses are still missing. Apparently cashflow management and future projection are very important for SMES, however banks are still struggling to act on that data and provide contextual information, best offers and recommendations that serve SMEs.
4. What about collaboration in between Fintechs and banks?
Fintechs and banks should definitely collaborate and work together towards a seamless banking experience. In terms of the differences, banks are not far away technology-wise, but we are very far away in user experience compared to your Fintech companies that have started to build customer-centric products from scratch and banks are truly aware of that.
5. What technologies will be important to SME businesses in the future? How do you see the landscape and what will have changed?
I would highlight three key strategic priorities. Firstly - digital lending for SMEs - sourcing, assessing and servicing loans through digital means and data points. Secondly, online customer acquisition will represent a very important strategic move, especially in markets like Ukraine and Russia. Thirdly remote advisory will kick in, helping to reach clients via remote channels day by day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vaida Pakulyte is a digital marketing manager at Strands. As an outcome focused online marketer, Vaida is interested in online banking, user experience, technology and specializes in creating content that sticks.