Levon Hampartzoumian: Bulgaria is learning from the mistakes of countries with more developed financial services

Bulgaria has got the privilege to learn from the mistakes of the countries with more developed financial services and to adopt the best services and technologies only, stated Levon Hampartzoumian, Chief Executive Officer of UniCredit Bulbank, on the Financial Innovations Forum.

The forum is organized by the “Bank of the Year” Association.

Being in the periphery, we have got the privilege to learn from others’ mistakes, Hampartzoumian said during the panel, when the question of whether a financial evolution or revolution is upon us was discussed. The Bulgarian market is at an embryo stage in some spheres of the financial services, which protected us in 2008, the Chief Executive Officer of UniCredit Bulbank pointed out. Just like we never introduced payment by cheques but started using credit cards right away, we can now skip some stages of the market development and directly take advantage of the technologies that will take over, stated Hampartzoumian.

Tsvetanka Mincheva, a member of the Management Board and Director of Retail Banking Division in UniCredit Bulbank, put an emphasis on the importance of the selection of ideas which can turn into successful market products during her lecture called “Innovations: the five ways for ideas to reach the market”. The question is not whether to invest in innovations, it is how to do it most efficiently, Mincheva pointed out. She affirmed that the banking industry is undergoing considerable changes, and digitalization is changing the model of the financial institutions’ functioning.

Digitalization and new technologies have to be implemented into the working process of banks, but these steps should be made gradually, Mincheva pointed out. The reason is that no matter how digitalized the processes are, it is important not to lose the relationship with the client, because without it we cannot build trust, she emphasized.

Mincheva believes that if banks want to achieve good results, they have to change the way they work and to choose the right ideas to realize. She gave specific examples of how a successful financial institution such as UniCredit Bulbank chooses its initiatives and ideas.

Apart from a regular plan with new projects, decided on at the beginning of the year, UniCredit Bulbank develops its partnership with the IT sector, because in this way it stays in touch with the people who create and develop the new technologies. The bank actively supports start-ups, which are generators of ideas, too. Another way of introducing new ideas into big banks such as UniCredit Bulbank is on the group level since markets develop at different rates.

What we did in Bulgaria is opening the Branch of the Future, a project which was created on Central and Eastern European level, and which was very well accepted on the European level. Mobile banking is another successful digital project, Mincheva pointed out.

The bank exchanges good practices outside the organization, too, most frequently when cooperating with students and universities.

In her lecture Tsvetanka Mincheva aslo said that it is essential for the bank to hear the opinion of colleagues who communicate with clients on a daily basis because they have got very good ideas for the optimization of the working process. UniCredit Bulbank has got two initiatives for generating colleagues’ ideas – the first one is ‘I’ve got an idea’, through which everyone is free to give ideas and the second one is UnBound through which colleagues develop and implement big projects.

The Retail Banking Director pointed out to the most important issues on which banks have to focus, namely: a structured approach to innovations – creating specialized units, responsible for developing and integrating innovations; cultural challenges – it is important for banks to learn from their mistakes and Agile – the flexible approach to managing projects.

All participants in the forum agreed on the crucial importance of innovation for the success of banks. The Chief Executive Officer of CIBANK and Chairman of EB of the Association of Banks in Bulgaria Peter Andronov pointed out that not only the young generation but also the clients at a more mature age are already using a wide range of online banking services, and the digitalization of processes is the only way for banks to become more efficient and cope with the burden of regulations. Petya Dimitrova, Chief Executive Officer of Post Bank, said that the Bulgarian banking sector faces opportunities for rapid development of mobile and internet services, as internet banking in Bulgaria is under 5%, with an average of 46% in Europe. Customer experience is the key to choosing a bank, Iravan Hira, Director General of Hewlett Packard Bulgaria, pointed out. He presented data from a research carried out among 6,000 employees of the IT company, who said that one of the main criteria when choosing a bank is the accessibility of its mobile application.

More information for media:

UniCredit Bulbank, Identity & Communications Department

Viktoria Blajeva, Phone: + 359 2 9264 993, wjlj/ebwjepwbAvojdsfejuhspvq/ch

Mara Bareva, Phone: +359 2 9264 963 , nbsb/cbsfwbAvojdsfejuhspvq/ch

Beatris Nikolova, Phone: +359 2 9232 528, cfbusjt/ojlpmpwbAvojdsfejuhspvq/ch