The need for a mid-term strategy – Interview with Matej Šošterič

Nov 20, 2020

This interview was published in Finance anex magazine Modern banking on 13th November. 

When developing digital banking solutions that could also target users beyond our borders, Slovenian banks mostly lack courage – says Matej Sosteric (Matej Šošterič), Comtrade Fintech sales director. “Why not address users in Germany, just like N26 addresses users in Slovenia?”, he asks – adding that domestic banks are fighting each other for a small group of customers, instead of looking across the border, where the potential to expand is much greater.

Advanced users are the digitalization driving force

According to Sosteric, digital services developed by Slovenian banks are not lagging behind those developed by banks in Middle or Western Europe. A good part of Slovenian users is technologically quite advanced, so banks must keep up with their requirements. “If users don’t get what they expect, they will turn elsewhere. This was also acknowledged by global fintech players, such as Revolut, N26, Monese and others.”

Matej Šošterič
‘Banks must establish a medium-term strategy in order to define where they want to be in five years, as well as how will they include digital processes in the very heart of their business. They will have to change the way of working and become more agile: this means taking small steps towards adding new services and constantly testing customer response.’ Matej Šošterič, Sales Director Comtrade Fintech

More than 25 years of experience

Banks in Slovenia respond to user requests fairly successfully. Customer experience has changed significantly in last two decades – and it is expected to change even more in the future.

Comtrade Fintech has been involved in the digitalization of Slovenian banking from the very beginning, being a strategic partner for many banks at home and abroad for more than 25 years. The company has developed the first electronic banking solution in Slovenia, while today it works closely with banks to respond to industry disruptions we are witnessing.

“In all these years, we’ve been a part of many projects of different sizes, in which we have successfully combined our expertise with the bank requirements. Each of our solutions is unique, tailored to the individual bank, excelling in innovating processes for a great user experience”, Sosteric explains.

The need for a mid-term strategy

Sosteric says that “the traditional banking model, in the form we know well, will not survive”. According to him, banks must establish a medium-term strategy in order to define where they want to be in five years, as well as how will they include digital processes in the very heart of their business. They will have to change the way of working and become more agile: this means taking small steps towards adding new services and constantly testing customer response.

As this can turn out to be too much of a challenge for many financial institutions, they prefer to focus on development of attractive digital solutions in short term, choosing a different external contractor for each project. This results in the formation of silo systems, which cannot communicate with each other. Another challenge is posed by the so-called legacy applications. “In an environment like this, it’s hard to keep up with the digital development. Internal teams must try very hard to provide necessary digital capabilities while creating expensive, immutable projects.”

Unified banking platforms as a basis for future business

“If banks want to become more agile, in order to deal with all digitalization challenges, they must introduce large infrastructural and organizational changes,” he says. The solution is a single banking platform that allows consistency without silo applications, as well as enables uniform customer journey. “Only this can act as a solid digital basis for the business of the future, as it enables innovation and enriches the user experience.”

In the area of single banking platforms, Comtrade Fintech partners with Backbase – one of the world’s leading providers in this field. This cooperation had started in 2017; a year later, the company was already named Regional Partner of the Year for Europe. “The reward is a confirmation of our commitment to ensuring a smooth transition to the new era of digital banking”, Sosteric adds.

As he says, they want to upgrade the partnership even more in the future, as well as extend to new regions. In doing so, they leverage the global presence of the British company Endava, which recently became the new owner of CDS – the company that Comtrade Fintech is a part of.

The bank and the contractor must pursue the same goals

Comtrade Fintech employees receive regular training at the Backbase Academy and operate in line with the methodology that has passed all accreditation processes. “Our expertise and in-depth understanding of banking regulations and procedures are the key to ensure a holistic approach to creating banking solutions”, Sosteric explains.

The implementation of a single banking platform is quite a demanding process, and it requires the bank and the contractor to work closely together. “Consensus about the project lifecycle is vital – all involved parties have to understand the scope, the objectives and how envisioned solutions will work, both in terms of user experience and the technology behind it,” says Sosteric, stressing that the technology provider and the bank must pursue the same goals throughout the project.

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