A smart citizen is the one who understands how to make relevant decisions in different situations when it comes to finances, one who knows how to use all the aspects of financial services and how to benefit from that, Aliona Stratan, first deputy chairwoman of the Moldovan largest bank, maib, told NEWS.am Tech in the sidelines of Silicon Mountains Summit 2023 held in Yerevan on October 17.
“It’s important for all the people to understand very well how to make use of the existing financial technologies. So from the bank’s perspective, smart people are those who understand the technology and know how to use it,” says Aliona Stratan who also participated in a panel discussion during the summit titled Smart Citizen.
Sharing knowledge and experience
In a small country, she says, it is impossible to be professionally arrogant: any organization will have to see what others are doing, learn from them and share its knowledge and experiences with them.
“Being partly Armenian, for me it was very important to share what we do in Moldova,” she says when asked what motivated her to participate in the summit. “Maybe some of the things that we do well could be used here so that people in Armenia know about us in case they want to learn from us or we might want to learn from them so that we can make our markets better. This was my general expectation and I think I have done that as I met a lot of interesting people here and I think we will benefit from knowledge-sharing,” she says.
Empowering people to make financial decisions
Digital technologies are evolving now because people do not want to be dependent on a specific place at a specific time: they want to have 24/7 access to their finances regardless where they are. In addition, this, according to Aliona Stratan, creates many opportunities for institutions to develop technologies to meet these needs.
“In our philosophy we believe that the client is at the center of everything. And these are not just words. For us it is very important to understand the ‘pain points’ or problems our clients have. Only after that, we start to develop something because if you are not solving a problem, then why do you create technology? So, technology is for taking out some of that ‘pain points’ and give people more time, more flexibility and empowering them somehow to make financial decisions,” she explains.
Three pillars banking a mobile app should be built on
The largest Moldovan bank, maib has around 1 million clients of which 0.5 million use the bank’s mobile app. There are three pillars, Aliona Stratan says, around which the app has been developed: it has to be easy to use, understandable and transparent.
“The mobile app should be very easy to use: one click, zero click, depending. Secondly, it should be understandable. People should understand what the next step is, the technology should be intuitive. And it should be transparent in terms of commissions, fees, etc. so that the customer does not have bad feelings after dealing with the bank. So if you respect these three pillars more people will use your application,” she says, adding that customer journeys, which are not “digitally born”, will not be used by customers.
Now maib has gone for agile transformation, which means that all the teams are cross functional, having also IT, Products, Risks, Legal personnel included as part of the development team to deliver on client expectations. It provides a good perspective to get an overview and see the processes from end-to-end, increases the speed of developing new products, services and creating pleasant customer experiences.
Full ecosystem around banking app
Recently maib made it possible for customers to become the bank’s client without visiting the bank via online onboarding. The bank also plans to make all its services end-to-end in the application and the big challenge now is to create end-to-end processes but digitally first. Further, the bank is going to build a full ecosystem around the banking app. It has already launched the CasaHub, the first real estate ecosystem in Moldova, and the DriveHub, an automotive dealership.
“We are developing a very fast ecosystem around the needs of our clients. Our application in the near future will not be only about financial solutions,” she says.
Transformation of cities and communities
Maib is sparing no effort in driving the smart transformation of cities and communities in the country. It collaborates with the government to offer smart solutions in public transport, considering the specifications of the local market. It also cooperates with cities to install payment terminals in the parks and other public areas, as well as to find other ways of offering technological solutions to make citizens’ lives easier.
The government in its turn creates many instruments so that people use more digital services. These days it was approved in the first reading by Moldovan Parliament the digitalization of identity cards, driving licenses, registration certificates, as well as certain elements relating to their generation and use. Relevant documents in digital format will be shared through the government’s integrated e-services application. This is provided to stimulate the use of electronic services. In addition, it is now launching an initiative that all the salaries of government employees will be paid from one platform. Moreover, it is the employees who will choose their financial partner bank they want not an institution or an official. This, according to Aliona Stratan, will create equal opportunities for the banks to compete with each other by offering their services and trying to get new customers.
“And this is great when the government and the business work together to deliver good customer experience in an environment when everybody wants to operate,” she says.
Digitalization makes people financially more intelligent
About forty percent of all loans, by number, in Moldova have been provided by maib, and the bank thinks this is because it offers online loans via the bank’s mobile app, so the customers can get a loan without having to visit the bank. Aliona Stratan says that digitalization of financial services helps people save time, make more rational and informed decisions and become more intelligent financially.
“They know how to use technology in order to pay less, to be more accountable, to know exactly when and what they have to pay,” she explains.
In addition, Aliona Stratan says, digitalization can bridge the gap between different generations as those who know how to use financial technologies help their parents and grandparents to make use of it and to make their lives easier. Yet older generations are still adopting new technologies at a faster rate than ever before. And this is our present and future, she adds.