DIGITAL BANKING

DIGITAL CUSTOMER SERVICES

The difficult circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has given a great impetus to the digital transformation in all dimensions, bringing the understanding that the world has no choice but to digitalize. By the date the quarantine was imposed, the Bank has already achieved a high level of digitalization and thus was very well prepared for the situation.

The e-banking system for retail customers, Internet Bank, accessible at i.bspb.ru, is the principal online channel for the customers of Bank Saint Petersburg, offering increasingly better services and solutions at more favorable prices. The number of individuals who have signed up for i.bspb.ru showed a growth of 14% in 2020: from 1 300 000 to 1 482 000. One-third of the city’s economically active population has access to i.bspb.ru, and every third customer of the Bank uses the mobile banking application: The number of active users exceeded 460 000 per month with the number of app uses exceeding 10  mln per month. The share of users of the mobile banking application grew by 25% and reached 85% of the total number of Internet Bank users.

In 2020, Bank Saint Petersburg updated its mobile application to improve the quality of the customer interface. This primarily involved the most anticipated improvements requested by proactive users of the Bank.

In 2020, clients ordered 63% more credit cards via the mobile and Internet banking solutions than in 2019. For debit cards, this figure increased by 20%. 50% more SMS online services were ordered and digital orders for corporate cards grew by 9.2%.

In 2020, the mobile application was expanded to include a capability to open any deposit offered by the Bank, resulting in an 88% increase in the number of deposits opened via the mobile platform.

The mobile app was further enhanced by adding the Exchange Bridge service. Now, our customers can make transactions to buy or sell foreign currency with deferred conversion backed with a security deposit in any place of the globe. Nowadays the new service has no analogues among existing offers for individual customers. Within the Exchange Bridge service, the client gets the opportunity to buy and sell currency with a deferred settlement date upon paying 10–12% of the future transaction amount. At the same time, the Bank will accrue and pay monthly interest on the amount of the security deposit, and the planning horizon for a convenient settlement date in the future will be 365 days.

The Cash Back section was introduced to the mobile app. Now, holders of the Visa Cashback card who receive standard сashback rate of 1% and higher cashback earnings for the categories, such as “Filling station” (5%) and “Cafes and restaurants” (10%), can control the amount of payable cashback rewards and the program performance terms.

Payroll clients of the Bank can now pick the initial credit limit via the mobile application. The limit has been approved and can be picked in just one click. You do not need any document or statement. The initial amount is RUB 5 000, but it can be increased in 3 months.

The Bank cares about its customers’ security and does its utmost to offer the best possible service on remote channels. Therefore, in our mobile app you can now restore your username and password without visiting or calling the Bank (sometimes a call may still be necessary, as the security of our clients’ funds and data is the Bank’s number one priority), order statements for public and municipal employees, download any file from your correspondence with the Bank, download account statements, delete any authorized device that is not used, apply for a loan repayment holiday, and ask to update your passport details.

Further, in 2020, the Bank launched a number of important digital projects for its customers. Via our mobile app, you can now order a virtual card that can be tokenized (added to your phone’s wallet). The Bank has introduced a simpler application form and submission procedures for consumer loans. The Bank has speeded up the display of card operations in its mobile banking application — now, the information appears instantly. Users have an opportunity to pick a credit limit in just a couple of clicks. The Bank has provided an opportunity to recommend the Yarkaya and ICOUNT cards to your friends and get rewards. In addition, the Bank has made considerable investments in ensuring the security of its customers’ money in the digital banking space.

At the end of 2019, 99% of corporate customers use the Internet Bank i2B, 99% of payments and FX transactions are made online.

In 2020, the Bank added new functionality to its BSPB Business mobile app for corporate customers. Now, our clients can choose a mobile phone number for receiving a payment confirmation SMS.

In addition, the Counterparty Check service is now available in the mobile app. It enables clients to get information about reliability of their business partners by simply entering their taxpayer identification code. The system can generate a brief report on the business partner and send it if required.

The BSPB Business mobile app now allows for sending a printable copy of transfer orders marked as executed by the Bank. In the History section of the mobile application, the user can generate a PDF printable copy of an executed ruble transfer order chosen from the list and send it to their counterparty using the standard application tools. 

It is now possible to edit payments awaiting signature and control your payment drafts, which considerably simplifies the creation of new payments and speeds up the completion of transactions.

In 2020, the Bank’s BSPB Business mobile application for corporate customers ranked second in the rating maintained by brobank.ru, a service for choosing financial services from banks and loan companies. The rating was based on user reviews published in Google Play and App Store, making it as unbiased as possible. Other leaders include applications of Alfa Bank, Sberbank, and Tinkoff Bank. In terms of platforms, the BSPB Business topped the rating among Android apps.

As for the support for its SME customers, it was not just a set of measures but an entire ecosystem #ICAN_BUSINESS_ONLINE that the Bank launched during the coronavirus pandemic. It accommodates financial services that are particularly relevant when the Bank’s dealings with clients are remote.

The #ICAN_BUSINESS_ONLINE ecosystem enables our corporate customers to do the following without visiting the Bank:

  • make payments quickly and securely;
  • receive bank statements by email;
  • check their business partners using our Svetofor service;
  • monitor the account activity and balance changes;
  • convert foreign currencies using a quotation board;
  • place a deposit;
  • submit a loan application;
  • use our international business services;
  • issue a qualified electronic signature in a matter of minutes;
  • connect to acquiring services;
  • and many more.

The Bank’s digital platform for SMEs involving the i2B online banking service and the BSPB Business mobile app draws on the market’s best practices and know-hows. It is an open digital platform convenient for daily financial transactions in real time without visiting the bank office.

A high quality of our digital solutions for small and medium-sized businesses was highly rated by independent experts. In 2020, the Bank ranked among the top 20 leading banks in the CIS and the Caucasus region offering the best digital ecosystems for SMEs according to the SME Banking Club’s Banking Ecosystems for SMEs 2020 study.

In 2020, the highest standard of the Bank’s online products was confirmed by a number of independent experts.

The Bank received a prize for digitalization at the annual Digital Leaders awards in the Digitalization Program 2020 — Banking Services category. The Digital Leaders awards is an annual event that showcases the best achievements in the field of digitalization and online services and inspires for greater digital transformation in all spheres of life.  It has evolved from the Innovation Time project that has been running for more than a decade.

The Bank has won a prize for its achievements in organizational digital transformation in the CDO/CDTO AWARD 2020.

Solutions of digitalization leaders in their industries and famous CIOs, CDOs/CDTOs of leading companies were nominated for the prize in 2020.

Bank Saint Petersburg has won the prize in two categories, the DIGITAL Transformation of the Year 2020 and the CDO/CDTO Award 2020 (the prize for the digitalization leader). The latter was given to Alexander Rybakov, Vice-President, Director of the Digital Department of Bank Saint Petersburg.

In the Retail Finance Awards 2020, our project “The WF Core Platform. Digital Transformation of the CRM System of Bank Saint Petersburg” received a special award in the IT Implementation category.

BusinessDrom analytical agency updated the Bank’s rating “Quality Seal.Online” at the A1.online level. This is the highest quality level that may be assigned to online banking systems and online accessibility of services. The Quality Seal.Online is a unified system for rating online accessibility of services and quality of remote customer services. The rating methodology involves analysis of external communications, functionality of the online system, and features available in the client area. The agency reviews the level of disclosure, quality and convenience of the client service infrastructure, standard contract terms, the level of financial sustainability, and other parameters.

Preapproved loans offered by Bank Saint Petersburg were recognized as the best in the Quick Solutions for Business category of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s competition.

IT SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS OPERATIONS

In 2020, the Bank was able to ensure that measures to allow for a continuous remote work in the context of the pandemic were put in place within a short time frame.

Other measures taken by the Bank to increase the efficiency of technological support of business in 2020:

  • the first part of a project for rapid deployment of combat/testing zones (CI/CD) was implemented. The project’s goal was to provide automated deployment of presales CRM zones (fully automated deployment and configuration of Windows servers, SQL servers, web-services for IIS). In some cases, deployment acceleration ranges from several days to several minutes;
  • a solution for the centralized application software update service was found and put into commercial operation (PatchMyPC);
  • employees were enabled to create virtual machines via a self-service portal and related work to develop the virtual cloud infrastructure tool MS Azure Pack was performed;
  • the Bank’s main ABS (CFT) and Processing IS (TWO) switched to new equipment (Exadata hardware and software).

The Bank continues to develop its consumer lending business, including by using process digitalization tools. The Bank uses deep analytics techniques to increase sales and offer customers what they really need. In order to support these techniques, we have found a solution that is capable of determining individual offerings in a precise and quick manner: SAS RTDM (SAS Real-Time Decision Manager).

The Bank has improved credit risk management processes by moving all calculations into a new decision-making system based on the SAS platform and the WF Core low-code platform.

The deployment of the solution virtually instantly began to produce positive effects on the Bank’s performance. A new loan pipeline powered by the SAS RTDM and the WF Core low-code platform is able to quickly adapt to the business needs and maintains a high standard of customer service.

So, the use of the SAS RTDM product brings logics of decision-making on loans to a brand new level. A prospective customer instantly receives a response to their loan request in accordance with the latest relevant offers of the Bank, including a possible loan amount, an interest rate, a monthly repayment amount, and the cost of insurance. The system makes a decision based on the borrower’s risk portfolio and where the terms sought after by the borrower do not match, generates an alternative offering.

The offering is calculated by the system within no longer than one minute. Now, additional information sources configured in both synchronous and asynchronous modes are used in the decision-making process for even more precise calculation of the credit risk and assessment of prospective borrowers’ solvency.

Deep analysis of risk profiles of prospective borrowers helps reduce the number of “bad” loans and quick generation of offerings contributes to improved service levels and, hence the number of clients. Optimization and digitalization of the process made it possible to reduce manual verifications, possible errors, and operating expenses.

Moreover, in 2020, the Bank and Neoflex, a developer of IT platforms for business digitalization, launched pilot services for receipt and processing of client requests from external sources on the basis of the Neoflex MSA Platform. The platform will enable the Bank to create and launch new services in common architecture within shorter time frames.

The aim of the implementation of the Bank’s digitalization strategy and upgrading of its technology landscape is to achieve faster time to market for new product launches. Based on analysis of the customer’s business tasks, Neoflex experts have, in cooperation with the Bank, developed a targeted architecture and deployed and configured the Neoflex MSA Platform as the first step. This produced an environment that brings together developers, engineers, and operations staff. The platform includes services, such as automated CI/CD processes, monitoring, logging, and enables the Bank to easily scale it as business functions are transferred.

Neoflex’s pilot project has developed microservices that implement processing and verification of loan applications against the clients’ requests received from partner websites and digital channels of the Bank followed by channeling the requests to the CRM system for further processing.

In 2020, the Bank deployed the AppDynamics solution to improve customer service levels. It will enable the Bank to effectively manage the performance of both internal and clients’ applications.

CISCO’s AppDynamics, a world leader on the market of monitoring performance of services and applications, and Bank Saint Petersburg, one of Russia’s largest regional banks, announced the beginning of their cooperation aimed at the implementation of a long-term program for digital transformation of banking products. AppDynamics provides the Bank with a single platform for monitoring and analysis of software and hardware for improved customer service.

AppDynamics will monitor the Bank’s infrastructure elements, such as the online banking portal, the mobile app, the Bank’s internal applications, the client server application Microsoft Dynamics CRM, CFT-Bank ABS, the Processing System, and the IBM Integration Bus (IIB). The project is implemented in cooperation with Winncom Technologies, one of the leading vendors of integrated telecommunications and network solutions.

In July 2020, the Bank migrated to the fail-safe cluster RDQM, a group of servers that provide high accessibility of the IBM Integration Bus. The cluster uses a single IP-address and a failure of one server does not lead to an outage, as the IT systems automatically switch to another server in the cluster.

INFORMATION SECURITY

The Bank pays great attention to the security of remote customer service systems. Protecting customer data and operations is one of the Bank’s top priorities. In 2020, the Bank finished the implementation of the Information Security Strategy by having achieved the desired goals. Also, in 2020, it prepared a new Information Security Strategy for 2021–2023, which determines areas of improvement for the information security system and draws on the Bank’s Development Strategy.

The Bank continued to improve the information security incident monitoring system. The Information Security Monitoring and Incident Response members took part in cyber drills both with the involvement of third party vendors and with the participation of FinCERT of the Bank of Russia. In order to remain prepared to counter external and internal attacks, penetration tests are conducted on a regular basis.

To minimize information security risks, a security standard for third parties that sets out mandatory requirements for provision of IT services was adopted for the purposes of contracting.

Thanks to the fact that the Bank’s infrastructure was prepared for safe remote work, the staff was switched to remote routines within the shortest time frames.

The Information Security Strategy involved the deployment of a number of systems to protect the IT infrastructure, such as a privileged user monitoring system and a corporate network risk management system, as well as a protection system against targeted attacks during online operations. 

The Bank’s critical web-services, including its online banking service, were protected against application attacks using a web-attack protection tool from one of the leading data protection providers in Russia.

The Bank continues to expand and develop cooperation with leading Russian and international companies in the field of information security which ensures a high level of protection of the Bank’s infrastructure, banking information and services.

The high level of compliance of the Bank’s information security system with the latest requirements has been confirmed by successful audits in accordance with such standards as GOST R 57580.1-2017 “Security of financial (banking) operations. Protection of information of financial organizations. Basic set of organizational and technical measures”; Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and a number of others.