Central And Eastern Europe: The Digital Switch

Digitization helps banks speed up money transfer, harmonize services and develop new tools.

When it comes to money transfer, speed is of the essence. In this key banking process, the speed of transfer directly affects customers’ ability to effectively use funds in corporate accounts.

Sberbank, the winner of this year’s Best Bank for Liquidity Management and Best Bank for Payments & Collections, put its foot on the accelerator at the end of 2018 when it switched to a digital workflow for products related to liquidity management. The shift eliminates the need to visit a bank branch to submit documents, saving both time and paper.

“One of the main challenges in liquidity management is the reduction of paper workflow and the creation of services that meet new needs,” says Sergey Popov, director of transaction banking at Sberbank. Since the digital switch, 99% of Sberbank’s contracts are concluded remotely and 99.9% of all payment services are performed online. “All services related to collection and depositing of cash to the settlement account can also be performed without visiting the bank’s office,” Popov says. “This results in less labor and more ease in carrying out routine operations.”

Speed depends on harmonization of services, says Giovanni Lucini, head of global transaction banking for Central and Eastern Europe at UniCredit, this year’s Best Bank for Cash Management. “Our clients in CEE require one single point of access to their financial operations across the region,” he says.

Citing UniCredit’s Instant Payment and Global Payments Initiative, Lucini also stresses the need to continuously invest in innovation, “with the aim of meeting emerging customer needs and equipping them with the best products and services. To this end, we are increasingly leveraging smart data, offering clients improved visibility and transparency.” Instant Payment speeds the exchange of money and services. The Global Payments Initiative works to make cross-border payments straightforward and quick.

Sberbank also places great importance on innovative technologies such as machine learning to improve payments processes. “We are confident that in combination with Big Data, this will lead to the creation of new tools for our customers and liquidity management for banks in the upcoming future,” Popov says.

In addition to electronic document management, Sberbank has recently switched to a microservice architecture, enabling it to simplify the development and support of a number of new services. According to Financial IT, some of these new services include electronic documentation. Clients can send letters on current deals, make changes, submit applications on early payments, answer letters and make requests, all online.

“Any business should develop a comprehensive digital solution for customers who work with liquidity management tools: collection, payments, pooling products, as well as significant document workflow,” says Popov.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International is present in 13 markets in CEE, providing it with valuable insight into each of the markets in which it operates. The RBI Fund Data Base (FDB) and trading platform covers 20,000 international mutual funds, with over 300 fund companies–a valued service for both domestic CEE and international companies operating in the region.

It’s essential for banks to tailor their solutions to specific types of customers, based on their different and often unique needs. That “allows us to eliminate customers’ pain and [close] gaps in the processes that cause them to leave certain banks,” says Popov.

That said, the best thing a bank can do for its customers is to reduce the time they have to spend on daily operations and to implement new options and customization for particular clients, he adds. That means making available paperless processes, distant services and integrated solutions for business management online, enabling the client to devote more precious working hours to business development.


Best Overall Bank for Cash Management UniCredit
Best Bank for Liquidity Management Sberbank
Best Bank for Payments and Collections Sberbank
Best Provider of Short-Term Investments/Money Market Funds Raiffeisen Bank International