In the 13th episode of SME Banking Club Podcast Series, we speak with Adam Walendziewski (ING Bank Śląski) about ING Business, an online banking platform for SME & MC customers, awarded as the best online banking for companies in the CEE region.

Olena Gryniuk: Hello! You are listening to the SME Banking Club Podcast Series. We speak about SME Banking. My name is Olena Gryniuk. Today I’m in Warsaw meeting Adam Walendziewski, Global SME/MC Digital Platform Centre Director at ING Bank Slaski in Poland.

Hello Adam. I’m very glad to have you today!

Adam Walendziewski: Good morning! Thank you for having me.

OG: ING Business, which is an online banking solution for SME & MC customers in ING Bank Śląski, was awarded as the best online banking for companies in the CEE region. Congratulations once again! For 100 parameters that we evaluated while analyzing banks working with SMEs in the region, you have almost all of them. Tell us a bit how the solution evolved and how long did it take you to have all the main functions available online actually?

AW: Yes, it was a long journey. We started in 2005 or 2006, and ING Business Online – at that time – was implemented in 2007, so we’ve got over 12 years of history, and it evolved step-by-step, basically. We started with Cash Management functions, like basic accounts, transaction modules, and from time to time, from year to year, from month to month, we added more and more features, product features and self-service functions, like requests, new possibility to maintain business, new functions to cover all the needs of the customers that we have already in ING Business platform right now. A few years ago, we started redesigning ING Business Online platform to meet the newest UX standards, to provide better user experience to our users, our clients. ING Business in the new version was implemented in 2017, so we’ve got over two years of working with the newest version with better personalization possibilities, with better UX, and I’m really happy that clients really enjoy that new version of the application.

OG: Yes, and customers use the application. You showed in your Q1 2019 Financial Results Report that 95% of loan applications from business customers were submitted online. This is almost the limit. This is the best result in the region. How do you motivate customers to use online banking, especially new features you’re launching? OR these are the customers who drive you to implement more & more features to ING Business?

AW: Yes, clients motivate us. It’s more about being where the customer is, it’s about watching trends, about watching how customers behave, how users behave. In the end, customers are not using the application; users are using the application. They are moving their expectations, their behaviors from the retail individual world, they are using social media, they are using portals, they are using application like Google, Facebook, Uber etc. and they expect the same look & feel, the same good user experience in their profession, in their business applications as well. So, we are trying to meet that pace, and we are trying to deliver the best possible solutions to meet clients’ expectations. And, I think, we are meeting those expectations quite well, we are delivering good products, good services and clients are using that in a daily manner.

Adam Walendziewski speaking at the SME Online Banking Awards 2019 for the CEE region (Warsaw, June 10, 2019)

OG: How being a part of ING Group influences the implementation of innovations in ING Bank Śląski, if we talk about the area of online banking?

AW: ING Business, I think, is the best possible solution that we have in ING Group right now. A few years ago, ING Business was delivered to ING Romania. We moved our Polish solution with quite small changes, like 5 of them. Of course, the most important was translation to Romanian language and adapting that setup on different back-end application, because that was the most crucial one. But we did it, we delivered that solution, in cooperation with our vendor, to ING Bank In Romania, and right now migration process is in place, and clients are constantly using that application on the Romanian market as well. Moreover, ING Business was chosen by MBB, our Management Board, as a go-to platform for all SME & MC customers in our Group.

OG: What makes ING Bank Śląski be ahead of the market, not only in Poland but in the whole region? How do you make it to be ahead with new implementations? What is your secret?

AW: This is not a secret. This is our promise to our customers to keep getting better, to put a client in the center of our thinking, center of our work. It’s our promise that we are going to be better and better every day. So, like I said in the first answer, we’re trying to deliver the best possible solutions, we are listening to our clients, we are meeting their expectations. So, it’s more about listening to our clients and keeping the pace what the client expects from us.

OG: How many people involved in the development of ING Business?

AW: Over 10 years of history, there were many of them, but right now in my tribe it’s around 60-70 people working on the development and creating business requirements, analyzing client’s voice, creating UX of this new platform, new products, etc. so, around 60-70 people working on it on a daily basis. I’m talking only about people involved in direct implementation here. I’m talking only about people working on specific products etc., because we’ve got tribes dedicated to Cash Management features, dedicated to financing features. They are working with us; they are preparing business expectations, and we are adapting the needs of our clients in those specific products into ING Business platform. My tribe works in agile, in scrum methodology. We’ve got 8 squads working on delivering ING Business platform. So, it’s around 8-9, sometimes 10 people working in a specific squad with additional people involved in UX, so around 70 people working on ING Business platform. Basically, ING Business redesigning project was the first project in our segment, which was done in scrum methodology.

OG: How do you cooperate with TTP?

AW: Right now, we are preparing PSD2 interfaces, AIS, PIS, and confirmation of funds. So, this cooperation is not very huge right now. But I am expecting this topic to grow, and I am expecting to have bigger cooperation with some third-party providers. We’d also like to be a Third Party-Provider to other banks. ING Bank, in general, is cooperating with TPPs, specifically with FinTechs and other startups. One example can be imoje. This is an e-commerce solution, where we are cooperating with Twisto – a platform from the Czech Republic – in order to provide the best possible e-commerce solution for the payments.

OG: What are the next implementations that customers should expect from ING Bank Śląski this year?

AW: We are going to deliver a new version of our mobile application, so, we are working right now on redesigning and rebuilding of this mobile application. We are working on PSD2 topics as well, so we need to provide some services to cover PSD2 principles. But additionally, we’d like to use other banks’ services in order to establish our own solutions within the ING Business platform. Additionally, better UX of specific modules, better look & feel of product modules like cards, better connection with loans, etc. so constant improvement of specific modules.

OG: What was the most challenging part when updating or implementing new online banking solution?

AW: ING Bank works in Poland for 30 years now, so, we’ve got many back-office applications. The most challenging is connecting with all the backend quite old solutions. All that legacy that we have in our IT is challenging to cover, of course, this is possible but challenging. Additionally, I think the most challenging right now is covering regulatory expectations. So, our colleagues in regulatory bodies are quite challenging right now, so it is challenging to cover their expectations and the newest principles. But, of course, this is important, we need to do it, and we are covering it on a daily basis.

OG: What is your vision on how online business banking will be developing during the next few years?

AW: I assume we will have three of the most important streams. One of them will be Open Banking in general, covering the PSD2 topic, but not only this. Additionally, delivering a new solution to customers, creating the environment of the specific financial products with connection with banking, FinTechs, startups, etc. This will, of course, happen in retail world area than in SME or MC area, but I think there is a possibility as well to deliver good stuff to our clients, to deliver new solutions to help customers grow their business with a connection to online banking. Another one is security. Of course, this is a constant running chase with fraud prevention topic. You must secure, and we are securing, but there is a group of people trying to rob money from our customers. So online banking security is really-really important. This is constant improvement, constant chasing, and creating better solutions for our customers. And the third one – more digitalization, better UX, better customer experience, more digitalized, better customer journey, products from day to day.

OG: Thank you, Adam, for joining me today. Good luck with all new implementations.

AW: Thank you very much! It was very nice to be here.