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Bank of Cyprus: We dare, innovate and break stereotypes

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Τραπεζα Κyπρο&upsilon ;: Τολμουμε, καινοτομουμε και σπα&mu ;ε τα στερεoτυπα

Digital transformation is the big bet we are called to win in a fast changing modern world, in which cutting-edge technologies play an important role.

The question is often asked whether digital transformation is a journey or a destination. I would liken him to a mountain that never stops growing. The more you climb it, the more things you learn and the more you test your endurance, the more you discover. Complacency has no place in this endeavor, as if you fall into the trap of stagnation then the distance from the top grows.

We at Bank of Cyprus see this challenge as an invitation to constantly test our capabilities, develop and highlight our talents and of course strengthen even more our wide range of innovative products and services. We see digital transformation as a drive to further simplify our customers' experience in their daily transactions and maximize the value of the organization.

We are bringing the new era in banking service< /p>

To understand the change we have achieved and the evolution of our digital banking footprint, it is enough to consider how you interacted with our Bank five years ago and in what ways it interacts today. He will find that leaps have been made which, due to the gradual change, may not have been noticed.

If he somehow came directly from 2016 to 2023, he would be amazed at what he would encounter. It would be very strange to him that people pay for their shopping in the supermarket by showing their mobile phone or watch. He would wonder how quickly he can send money to someone without knowing their bank account number, when in fact he can do it just using QuickPay. He would also be surprised to learn that many people haven't stepped into a bank branch in months or years, as they use online banking services to manage their accounts, transfer money, pay bills and even take out a new loan from computer or their mobile phone.

Leveraging the award-winning BoC Mobile App, we have implemented numerous innovations that have ushered in a new era in banking: QuickPay, e-wallets, mobile check deposit, MoneyFit, digital signatures, Quick Loans, Digital Onboarding and more. It would not be an exaggeration to say that our products and services have allowed other public and private entities to follow the path of technological development.

Lower than the EU average.

In outlining the progress we have recorded, we do not overlook that there is still a way to go as a country in digital transactions to reach European averages. The findings of the report of the Central Bank of Cyprus entitled “The landscape of retail payments in Cyprus” are indicative. Cypriots still rely heavily on cash payments as during 2021, 72% of total retail payments were made in cash.

During the same time period, the typical resident in the EU used payment means without cash 1.6 times more often than the average resident in Cyprus. At the same time, checks are still widely used in Cyprus. These are just two examples that demonstrate the room for improvement for further adoption of available digital solutions.

We have a plan, we work with a strategy

The key to the success of any project is the strategy followed, its flexibility, its adaptability and the foresight of the implementers. Since 2017, when the implementation of the digital transformation program began, we have recorded tremendous progress. Our goal and purpose is to pioneer the provision of innovative digital services to our clients from here and the strategy we follow is aligned with a specific action plan, which includes complex processes with changes in organizational structure, processes and systems, as well as the adoption of new technologies .

Our compass always points to the customer, as all our efforts and projects are based on the customer's needs and designed in such a way as to satisfy them as effectively as possible. In the final analysis, the user experience is the most important parameter and the one that determines the success or failure of any product or service.

We do the words, actions

As technological breakthroughs move into widespread adoption, customers expect them to be applied to their banking experience as well. It could well be said that it becomes a kind of necessity until the next revolution comes. For example, when ATMs were first put into operation they were considered something very revolutionary in banking. Over the years they became established to such an extent that no one could think of a bank and a bank branch functioning without an ATM.

Coming to today we see that ATMs have evolved to serve customers even more, but nowadays almost everyone has a digital wallet. We therefore see that customers now demand the same experience they get from their favorite social networking app in their daily dealings with their bank, government, university and everything else imaginable.

< p>Insight is also important, as it determines how and when specific technologies will move into widespread adoption, while the ability to identify those tools that will help the customer is critical. For example, blockchain technology has led to the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Banks, including the Bank of Cyprus, have proven wise not to follow this path as we have witnessed the collapse of various cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges, instability and the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities. This does not mean that many good things from the same technology, such as Smart Contracts, are ignored. Therefore, a key pillar of our strategy is the adoption of the right technology at the right time.

Jinius, the first digital economy platform in Cyprus, is an excellent example of our strategic development. It is the first of its kind platform that connects businesses and individuals in such a way that they can transact in real time, efficiently, securely, smartly and quickly. To achieve this we had to think about the technology, the operating model, the business model and above all the customer experience. We had to plan it and then execute it and as it turned out we did it successfully.

The role of the state

When we talk about strategy, we should also include the important role of the state. It is imperative that the government maintains its leading role in the technological transition of the Cypriot society and economy.

“We learn otherwise”

At the Bank of Cyprus we have recently launched the “Learn differently” program which aims at financial and digital literacy. Through this program, our fellow citizens of older age, as well as anyone else who wishes, can learn in simple words and pictures how to do their banking transactions easily and simply using technology and the available digital tools. The first part of the Program includes a series of presentations in Municipalities and communities completely free of charge, where the participants will be informed about basic financial concepts but also about how to comfortably and confidently handle several digital services of the Bank via computer, mobile phone and ATMs .

*Mr. Giorgos Kouses is the Executive Director of Technology Division & of Operational Activities of the Bank of Cyprus.

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Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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