Online Technologies to Shape the Future of Banking
Media Room

Card payments are a common practice in the modern world, with a lion share of e-commerce payments made by bank cards. Acquiring, i.e. accepting cards as a means of payment for goods and services, is the most promising and continuously evolving direction of the card business. Ms. Burastan Movsisyan, Chief Technologies and Services Officer at Ameriabank CJSC, spoke about global trends, situation on the local market and know-how innovations of Ameriabank in an interview to PanARMENIA.Net.

1. What are the trends in banking technologies globally and in Armenia?

Due to shift from traditional face-to-face communication to a computer-mediated communication, the bank technologies have changed significantly over the recent years. Exploring consumer needs, the leading banks come to understand that consumers are changing rapidly and are no longer rushing to the bank to solve their financial issues. Gen Next is replaced by digital natives, consumers of the future. They are more active, inclined to reading news feed and blogs rather than reading press and watching TV. They turn away from physical relocation and they’d rather execute their financial transactions by just clicking the mouse or entering the password. So the advanced banks today access their consumer via Internet and mobile technologies. There are even precedents of virtual-only banks without physical premises. This option, though, is hardly going to work in Armenia in the nearest future.

Rapid penetration of internet into Armenia made it possible to upgrade banking technologies and develop online banking, i.e. virtualize many of the banking operations. While remote banking is very convenient, in my opinion, the banks will still continue to enhance their physical branch network taking into consideration national mindset and tough competition on the market. Online services will evolve along with offline infrastructure, gaining popularity and attracting an increasing number of customers.

2. There is increasing demand for acquiring services since more and more individuals and companies prefer electronic settlements. Is situation the same in Armenia?

Development of card business supporting infrastructure and growing number of cardholders boosted non-cash payments for products and services. Over the recent couple of years the number of bank cardholders saw a solid increase, up by more than 30%. On the other hand, development of web-resources as a convenient channel of interaction with merchants forces the banks to move ahead with card business and online banking services. This all results in smooth transition from cash payments to POS and website-mediated settlements (online shops). This is really much more convenient than carrying heavy wallets, especially for frequent travelers.

3. What are the benefits offered in this regard by Ameriabank?

Quite recently we have launched Internet acquiring service. Our new product and partnership with VISA and Master Card international and Arca local payment systems enable the consumers to shop online, i.e. pay by cards via Internet. Our bank is the first in Armenia to launch virtual POS. It makes possible for the merchants to accept payments directly from their websites with mediation of our in-house developed software. This is a great opportunity for the merchants to accept online payments without extra web development and programming costs. The service can be activated just in a couple of days.

Since Armenian products (souvenirs, carpets, jewelry, beverages, etc.) are quite popular among the Armenian Diaspora which is spread all over the world, online acquiring service may create a great opportunity for the local producers and entrepreneurs to enter international markets.
While online acquiring service is already launched, our current goal is to enhance partnership network and create more opportunities for our clients and partners.

I’d like to bring your attention to our latest mass-oriented project with Armentel aimed to enable acceptance of bills online. We plan to increase the number of this service subscribers to 40% of the total number of web users. Currently works are underway to implement this product with the other operators providing communication and utility services to the population. On the other hand, we are aware of the growing concern for the security issues driven by the rapid growth rates of virtual transactions. We ensure high level of security by VbV (Verified by VISA) and 3DSecure technologies.

4. What other innovative know-how is Ameriabank going to launch in the nearest future to best suit its customers’ needs?

Increasing customer loyalty, predicting their needs and boosting customer satisfaction is an ongoing concern for us as a client-oriented bank. Our clients expect 24/7 straightforward and quick service with high level of protection.

Currently we are enhancing online banking service with a focus on online communication with clients. Soon we are launching our Contact Center to support our clients 24/7, and thus clients will be able to perform the majority of banking transactions without visiting the bank either with the help of Contact Center operator or Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. This is a big stride forward in upgrading of customer service. I think we’ll be the first bank in Armenia available to its clients 24/7.

5. What is your vision of the bank of the future in this digitalized era?

Despite growing number of various self-service channels, the number of bank offices isn’t decreasing. Another thing is that organic growth of the banking net is far less than growth of clientele. I believe that no matter how developed online banking becomes, the banks should always have physical premises for face-to-face consulting on more sophisticated banking products.
While choosing how to contact our client, we should tailor our offer to what he needs and where he needs it. If compared with the mobile operators, it’s like customizing pricing and services for a certain consumer or a target segment.

If consider the future banking more globally, I believe that retail banking will be mostly shaped by use of mobile phones. I think using a mobile phone or a tablet for utility payments, online shopping and other transactions or filing loan application will be a common case in the not so distant future in Armenia.

As regards corporate banking, including SMEs, I think there will be a shift from saving and accumulating money to the fiduciary management services where the bank will act as an advisor and expert making the money work for its owner. Online banking and any form of distant asset management will become increasingly popular. Just fancy a corporate client who communicates with the bank via PC. Clicking on the application button on the monitor he will be able to send an inquiry, make a transaction, ask for advice or get professional mediation services.
In my opinion, no matter how far we go in virtualizing communication between the bank and the client, the product, brand and service quality will always have a crucial role affecting the choice of bank, whatever the channel of communication is. This is why while upgrading technologies we are trying to move forward to our clients, ensuring convenience of banking and easy access.

Updated 22.04.2014, 18:33
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