Douglas Blakey, chair of the judging panel, reports from the RBI European Awards in Prague. In all, 11 separate financial institutions were recognised with the quantity and quality of entries doing the event proud

A hearty well done to all of the winning banks with a special mention for double winners: Israel Discount Bank. Moreover, IDB collected the awards for two hotly contested categories: best fintech partnership and best use of AI.

Best Branch Strategy: Air Bank

The winning bank, Air Bank, saw off strong competition to collect the first award of the evening. Since opening the doors of its first branches back in 2011, the Czech based winning lender has succeeded in its drive to bring ‘an air of freshness’ to the banking sector.

The branches, in terms of both design and ideology, are novel. Following the ancient Greek ‘agora’ concept – that signifies a
‘place of assembly’, the Air Bank branches are a place for customers to “meet, talk and discuss” their banking plans.

Air Bank serves its almost 800,000 customers from 35 branches. Recent channel highlights include the launch of the first contactless ATM in the country.

Best Mobile Banking Strategy: Raiffeisen

If anything, this category was even more closely contested.

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Shortlisted banks such as PKO, Poland, OTP and Alior all had strong cases to be recognised. In the end, the judges recognise Raiffeisen for the success of its Mobilní eKonto Raiffeisenbank. The innovative mobile banking application is built on three pillars: customer centricity, best in class security and full self-servicing capability.

Navigation within the app has been developed according to the latest user experience recommendations.

While the app enables users to access the majority of the bank products (including current and saving accounts, debit and credit cards, consumer loans, mortgages, investments to mutual funds) it remains intuitive and easy to use.

Clients can use full text search on several screens or quick action buttons that are accessible using a swipe gesture. To get instant information about products, users can receive information about card payments, incoming or outgoing payments, balance change or other events via push notifications.

Mobilní eKonto: serving all customer segments

The app is designed to serve all customer segments from retail to corporate customers. Client can easily navigate between client contexts and manage personal as well as business finances.

In addition, the app has several unique security features, including detection of malware in a client’s smartphone. Sensitive data is protected by Promon Shield.

Login to the application as well as authorisation of transactions uses two factors authentication. Clients use PIN or biometry (Touch ID, Face ID, and Fingerprint) for login and authorising transactions.

Other Mobilní eKonto features include the ability to buy insurance products while travelling or open saving accounts offering promotional interest rates.

Mobilní eKonto also helps clients to save money while shopping while the app also incorporates the bank’s loyalty scheme for credit card customers, Premium RB Club.

Best Open Banking Strategy: Danske Bank

Research shows that more than 30% of Nordic banking customers use more than one bank. If one factors in investment, pension and insurance the number is even higher. That means that customers of Danske Bank often have to navigate within and between several digital solutions in order to complete their financial tasks. This is cumbersome and time consuming.

Acknowledging that customers have several banks, in combination with Danske Bank’s key goal to create excellent customer experience, led the bank to develop a solution in response to customers’ daily challenges when using several banks.

During 2018 Danske Bank launched the solution “See accounts in other banks” I Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the UK.

The solution provides Danske Bank Customers with the ability to collect their accounts from other banks in Danske Bank Mobile Bank in an easy and straightforward way.

Successful partnership with Spiir

The fast development and launch process was made possible by the PSD2 EU Payment Directive paving the way for more transparency and increased competition to benefit consumers.

It was also made possible by a strategic partnership with the Danish Fintech company Spiir with expertise in budget tools and aggregation of income sources.

The partnership allowed Danske Bank to speed up development significantly.

Accounts from more than 200 Nordic and British Banks can now be seen in Danske Bank Mobil Bank. More than 24.000 customers have added accounts from other banks and over the last six months, the number of users has doubled and continues to grow.

Best Self Service Initiative: Moneta Money Bank

The winning bank is recognised for its Smart Banka proposition.

Smart Banka is built on the principles of human-centred design and a customer centric approach. User experience and innovation are the key focus of the development team. Every month Moneta Money Bank releases new features, functionalities and services which are being used by around 350,000 clients in the Czech Republic. Already, some 75% of the bank’s primary banking customers bank via the mobile channel.

Among a lengthy list of hits for Smart Banka is optimisation of the onboarding process. New customers are able to open accounts via the bank’s app inside 15 minutes.

Smart Banka is receiving around 5.5 million logins each month while it is attracting almost 25% of all customer payment transactions. Impressively, more than 80% of active customers are using the app’s payment facility every day. Other self service highlights include 55% of new sales of travel insurance being made via Smart Banka.

Best Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategy: Santander

The winning bank has almost tripled its Instagram followers in a year utilising different story telling methods. It is in the top 20 for banks globally in that category while on Facebook, it is a top 10 bank.

The bank is successfully using new forms of content to increase interaction and it is working. Santander’s recent Bank of Antandec marketing campaign enjoyed a lot of attention in the UK.

Best use of Data Analytics: OTP

Smart data analysis is helping OTP Bank to triple the value of loans issued in markets such as Russia. Optimising its data analysis is just one of the reasons that OTP is posting a sector beating RoE.

Already a dominant player in Hungary and strong in Bulgaria, OTP is growing in Russia, Croatia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.

Even when one strips out of the first half figures the bank’s acquisitions, operating profit without grew by 14% while total income without rose by 11%.

Best Product Innovation: Addiko Bank

With the ‘Addiko Virtual Branch’ the winning bank presented a unique digital service that to date is not offered by any other bank in the Croatian market.

Addiko Virtual Branch launched in 26 February 2019.

It enables current account opening without any need for the customer to visit a physical branch at any time. The service is also available for customers of all banks.

The virtual branch already generates loan applications equivalent to the total generated by the bank’s entire branch channel, surpassing the bank’s project forecasts.

Moreover, Addiko Virtual Branch remains the only fully digital loan solution available to customers in Croatia.

To add to the modern-digital-virtual feel hologram technology was used for the virtual branch. Since the launch of the virtual branch, loan applications are up sharply resulting in a 1.1 percentage point rise in the bank’s cash loans market share.

Three additional metrics merit attention. Addiko now enjoys 97.7% brand awareness in Croatia following the virtual branch launch, an all time high for the bank. And since launch there have been 60,000 unique customer visits with 80% of visitors aged between 25 and 44-exactly the bank’s key customer target segment.

Best Payments Innovation: ING

A number of the categories were closely contested-this category is however results in a clear win for ING. The judges recognise the winner for its ING Tap on Phone solution, an android based app, which converts mobile devices (phones, tablets) into POS devices. In addition it allows them to accept secure EMV contactless transactions via physical and digital cards.

ING Tap on Phone application allows business owners to use their own smartphone, tablet or other wireless devices as mobile points of sale (POS), replacing the traditional electronic POS terminal.

This application provides cost efficient card acceptance for all micro merchants and SMEs.

The app uses built-in NFC technology of the mobile phones for reading cards, instead of using external hardware.

Considering that the solution does not require any additional dongle (the merchants’ android smart device is enough) it has a great potential especially for the low penetrated market where merchants suffers the high cost of traditional POS terminals.

Best Security Innovation: Moneyou

ABN AMRO subsidiary Moneyou is recognised for its initiative with Konsentus. The Konsentus TPP regulatory and Identity checking service is providing Financial Institutions with a ready-made solution enabling them to comply with PSD2 Open Banking regulation and prevent unauthorised and fraudulent access to their Open Banking APIs.

Across Europe, implementation of PSD2 Open Banking came into force on 14 September 2019 and affects over 9,000 FIs.  Providing open access to APIs creates an operational risk and the prospect of fraudulent activity by unauthorised TPPs. As well as financial loss through fraudulent payments, passing data to unauthorised entitles would also be in breach of both PSD2 and GDPR.

When a TPP requests access to a FI’s API to access end user account data or initiate a payment on behalf of the user, the FI must check that the TPP is a legitimate organisation.

And they must also check that they are regulated/approved by their home member state.

For a FI to be able to identify a TPP and check its current regulated status there are over 100 databases that it needs to access, in real time.

Konsentus offers FIs the only low cost, easy deployable PSD2 schema compliant service, delivering all the functionality required by a FI to validate the identity of a TPP and its most up to date regulated status.

Moneyou is a model case of a financial institution making informed risk management decisions protecting PSU data

Excellence in Customer Centricity/Customer Experience: Postbank

Postbank is recognised for its e-signing project, one of the most important digital projects of the bank in recent years.

And notably, Postbank is the first bank in Bulgaria to introduce e-signing of documents in its offices.

The bank is working with the support of Printec and Namirial to drive the project.

The e-signing project’s long-term goal is for all financial centres to be fully paperless. The e-signing project was implemented in two phases.

Phase 1 included all cashiers across 170 branches of the bank. It was launched in the end of 2017. Phase 2 launched in the beginning of 2019 and includes all experts in every branch.

e-signing is now live for 60 of the most commonly used documents in the bank. The total number of documents signed digitally is 56% of all the signatures and is steadily increasing.

Best Fintech Partnership: Israel Discount Bank

The winning bank is recognised for its business partnership with promising Israeli startup nsKnox. This company provides innovative data security and corporate payment protection solutions.

These include a breakthrough Cooperative Cyber Security (CCS) technology. The technology is based on a new model which combines the individual cyber security capabilities of a number of secured organisations and networks – making hacks significantly more challenging than just penetrating a single organisation.

The partnership with nsKnox required the bank to implement changes in both the technical and the business spheres. In the technical level, the bank implemented server environment to support the nxKnox product.

Businesswise, the bank is undergoing a major change-in-mindset, as it is turning an operational unit into a business unit, providing service and support to an external client – running the vendor’s “Knoxer” service as a line of business.

This innovation – the first of its kind in Israel -allows the bank to leverage its unique assets, which til now have been designated solely for internal use, and to use them to form a new line of business.

For the first time ever, Discount bank is monetising its operational assets and turning existing infrastructure, capabilities, professional skills and expertise, which the bank is heavily invested in, into a new revenue stream with high hopes for the future.

Best Use of AI: Israel Discount Bank

The winning bank has implemented an innovative auto-deposit digital service. This AI-based feature, is embedded within customer’s banking app. Twice a week, the tool independently analyses the user’s monthly expenditures – including future forecasted expenses – and then spots available money in his checking account, which is automatically transferred into a designated saving account.

This way, available spare change adds up over time, and turns into a useful sum of money – with zero effort on the customer side.

Users can stop the auto-deposits any time, boost the sums deposited, and under any condition, the auto-savings tool will not allow the checking account to slip into overdraft.