HERE AND BEYOND
Cards instead of banknotes in the pocket
Media Room

 

Interview of the Retail Banking Director of Ameriabank CJSC Vazrik Sekoyan to the ‘Golos Armenii’ newspaper
 
- It is no secret that the salary projects are the cornerstone of the Armenian market of plastic cards. What is their weight in the Ameriabank cards base?
- Surely the card business is mostly based on salary projects – a civil method of receiving salary by clients. The world shifted to this method long ago. Both the Government and physical entities appear to be winners in this case in terms of decrease of hidden (unregistered) wages for the Government and security for physical entities, since ‘lost card’ does not mean ‘lost money’. Secondly, it is a convenient way of making payments.
Another benefit of card is overdraft – a key to formation of credit history and financial reputation of the cardholder. We usually offer three-fold salary overdrafts to cardholders with stable salary.
Companies which pay out wages by payment cards draw a considerable benefit, too: they are spared the trouble of settlement formalities inherent in disbursement of salaries in cash. Many companies even cover annual card service fees of their employees and that is a kind of component of their social responsibility package.
It’s also worth mentioning that the benefits of Ameriabank’s salary cards are not confined to the availability of credit line and security of the payment instrument. Once the employee of the company becomes the client of our bank he/she is offered a wide pack of benefits and bonuses for other products of the bank, including car loans, mortgage loans for construction and renovation of apartments and dwelling houses, consumer loans, etc.
As to the weight of the salary cards in Ameriabank’s cards base, salary cards certainly make an overwhelming majority. Our bank is rather flexible in terms of salary card servicing and this is the reason why among our clients are not only companies paying out wages to their employees by means of our salary cards, but also physical entities who are serviced on individual terms. Paying the due to the services, fees and rates of our bank, many individuals use our cards as a universal payment instrument for getting their wages, receiving remittances from abroad and keeping their savings.
- Still salary cards cannot be called very active, as long as few transactions are made through them – once the salary is transferred to the account and becomes active, it is either withdrawn fully, or, at best, part by part. Could you offer any ways of making the use of plastic cards more versatile and active though salary projects?
- The cards business is pushing forward irreversibly. The number of cardholders in major cities who use the cards not only for receiving and withdrawing salary, experiences a fast growth day by day. In marzes this process has slowed down a bit, yet the time when the plastic card will be a universal payment instrument is on our doorstep. The merchants accepting payment cards also seem to mushroom out.
This issue also pertains to the establishment and development of the culture of making payments through cards, as well as the infrastructure of the card business. For instance, currently a wide network of merchants in various spheres of activity accepts cards and services them via POS terminals, which is equally convenient both for the cardholder and the company. The POS terminal network expansion leads to the development of the retail business, products and services. According to statistics a cardholder usually spends more than the client who pays in cash. Unfortunately, at present the ATM transactions exceed the card payments at merchants both in number and amount, through a positive growth tendency has been registered recently.
- What are the privileges that you offer to Ameriabank cardholders and how do you attract clients (available overdrafts, low fees and commissions charged by ATMs of other banks, annual card service fee, discounts at merchant networks, security-related issues, etc.)?
- In addition to the salary and overdraft Ameriabank cardholder may get 3-40% discounts (subject to the card type) at over 300 merchants. We are continuously increasing the network of merchants. Besides, as I stated above, if the cardholder is an employee of Ameriabank corporate client, he/she may also enjoy benefits while using some of our banking products.
I would like to draw your attention to an important detail. Everyone knows that it is better to perform card transactions through the ATM of the bank that issued the card which would be rather cost effective in terms of fees and commissions charged. In connection with this I would like to say that Ameriabank has got the widest ATM network in Yerevan due to which our cardholders find our ATMs easily, through no loss of time and efforts. Besides, Ameriabank became a pioneer to have been represented in App Store which enables our cardholders to quickly find the required ATM through the interactive map of the software application.
To top it all, we offer additional card-linked services to the cardholders. For instance, due to our cooperation with IAPA international system Gold cardholders are provided with travel insurance allowing to enjoy hotel stay and car rent discounts in over 80 countries of the world. Platinum cardholders are provided with business-lounge Priority Pass service for two persons at airports, at a special VIP section with a smoking room, bar, internet access and other services.
As to the security of plastic cards, already in quarter 4 of the current year Ameriabank will fully shift to the issuance and provision of chip cards with a higher level of security as compared with magnetic stripe cards. 
Updated 23.06.2011, 18:12
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