Friday, June 2, 2023
Home Blog

Usage of Biometrics in Digital SME customer journeys

Source: Freepik

Today, during our SME Banking Club webinar, together with Wiktor Jaszczak (Facephi) we discussed Biometrics and how it can help in the creation of a smooth customer experience during the process of digital customer journeys, and also the advantages of the usage of biometric solutions compared to other methods. In the context of SME customers, of course.

This May we finished a joint Study, which gave several insightful numbers to analyze and think about:

  • 45% of financial companies in the CEE region implemented digital customer onboarding for SME/business customers. It’s a great number! It correlates very much with our annual SME Banking studies we do on the functionalities of Online and Mobile banking for SMEs, including the possibility of purely digital customer onboarding. It shows a 10% increase compared to previous years, and we do see a lot of announcements this year about this and that bank’s implementation of digital customer onboarding.
  • The next interesting number shows that 36% (of the ones that implemented digital customer onboarding) use biometrics in that process (primarily face recognition).
  • 50% of customers who started digital onboarding don’t finish it mainly because of the long process. I experienced such a process myself when I couldn’t scan my face from the very first time in some applications and when it asks to scan it once again, wink or blink every time you use it – you skip it.
  • Our general statistics say that 70% of the financial organizations in the region implemented biometrics for transaction authorization. And the very good news is that 70% of the customers actually use it, which means we’re moving toward passwordless authorization.
  • If we go to fraud prevention and the role biometrics can play in preventing it, our research reveals that 77% of financial organizations encountered different types of fraud during the last 2 years, among them 41% of organizations encountered identity theft, and 21% – account takeover. These are the areas where biometrics can help make it much more difficult for fraudsters to access sensitive data.
  • 57% of financial organizations plan to implement biometrics in their digital processes during the next 2-3 years. The preference in this region’s financial organizations leans towards Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and hybrid models of biometric solutions.


You can find more details in our joint Biometrics Study (for the CEE region), which you can download here.


Watch the full webinar below:

UniCredit Bulbank and Sellavi stand by online merchants

Source: UniCredit Bulbank

UniCredit Bulbank and Sellavi (the platform for creating and servicing online stores) in Bulgaria are launching a joint partnership that will allow entrepreneurs oriented in the field of online trading to develop their full potential. With the support of UniCredit Bulbank, customers can take advantage of the virtual POS service providing online payment with payment cards. Those who choose this offer will be able to make transactions without fee for the first year, which will facilitate sales and allow reaching more customers.

Established in 2015 in Israel, Sellavi has been operating in the Bulgarian market since the end of 2022. The online e-commerce platform operates in 27 markets worldwide and serves over 75 million users per month as thousands of entrepreneurs can sell their products, regardless of business size or industry.

Sellavi is a do-it-yourself online store builder platform that allows merchants to create online stores within an hour, with no technical knowledge required. With the help of its innovative software, Sellavi offers businesses easy and convenient website-building solutions with automated online processes and a wide range of functionalities. They can benefit from built-in integrations with state-of-the-art marketing, sales, and shipping tools, and an easy-to-manage admin panel.

Source: UniCredit Bulbank

Among the main advantages of the platform is the elimination of complex technical processes when creating an online store. In this way, the service frees up valuable time and resources for entrepreneurs, which they can focus on developing their businesses. For owners with an existing online store, this includes the ability to seamlessly migrate their site to the platform’s services.

The tendency for more and more entrepreneurs to focus on the development of online stores seems to maintain sustainable growth. According to the annual report of E-commerce Europe, the volume of B2C e-commerce of products and services in Bulgaria in 2022 reached EUR 1.64 billion.

The partnership between Sellavi and UniCredit Bulbank will provide merchants with a comprehensive solution to build a solid online presence. The collaboration aims to enable businesses, whether small or large, new or established, to increase sales and reach new customers easily and securely.


Source: the Bank`s press release dated May 05, 2023

Tatra banka provides facial biometrics to third parties

Source: Tatra banka

In 2018 Tatra banka in Slovakia introduced a new method of verifying its customers through facial biometrics when opening an account online. Now it brings one of the safest technologies for personal identification to third parties who want to use this service in their business activities.

What is facial biometrics?

Facial biometricsTB is based on a technology, which measures and evaluates a lot of different points and surfaces on the face. It focuses for instance on the distance of eyes, cheekbones, or lip thickness. The face image analyses, whether the person is real, or it´s just a photo. The captured face is then compared with the ID card photo. The maximum verification security is ensured by an online comparison of the ID card photo with the database of the Ministry of Interior.

After the successful implementation of this innovation when opening an account for natural persons, Tatra banka extended its use to the Consumer loanTB, the Self employed accountTB, and the On instalmentsTB service. Since the beginning of this year, customers can also activate the ReaderTB application using only their face and ID card.

Use of technology in other industries

Tatra banka strives to regularly bring useful news to customers that will make their lives easier. It also opens its unique technologies to the external environment. This time they are intended for customers – legal entities, who can easily fulfill their legal obligations associated with customer identification or who are interested in simplifying the process of registration and filling in data when applying for the provision of their service.

The uniqueness of the service lies in the fact that facial biometrics is provided on the principle of Software as a service, where the entire technology is located in the secure environment of the Bank. Companies using this service access it through an API interface. Such an approach enables quick and easy integration with the possibility of early use of the service. In doing so, the Bank uses its experience from providing the Open bankingTB domain.

Tatra banka provides technology at three different levels. The first of them makes it possible to obtain data from the identity card, which does not need to be manually transcribed. The second level provides biometric face verification to confirm that the person registering is actually behind a computer, a tablet, or a mobile phone. The third level is extended by the possibility to verify a mobile phone number and an e-mail address. In this way, it is possible to completely replace the current process of manual registration, during which the customer must enter his data and, in some cases, send a copy of the identity document.

“The primary benefits offered by the service are, in addition to the higher security of digitization of processes, a better customer experience. Last but not least, companies benefit from quick integration and lower costs compared to if they wanted to develop the service themselves,” – adds Lukáš Rybár, Product Manager at Tatra banka.

With the new service, the Bank contributes to increasing the rate of digitization of the processes and to higher security for new registrations. The innovative way of verifying people will be able to be used by the first customers who care about the identification of their users being as secure as possible.


Source: the Bank`s press release dated May 04, 2023

İşbank and Vodafone Business present green solutions for SMEs

Photo by SME Banking Club

Türkiye İş Bankası (İşbank), together with Vodafone Business in Turkey, supports SME customers in reducing energy consumption with the Vodafone Business Red Energy solution. The Bank will offer the Vodafone IoT Technology-Based Energy Efficiency Service Package to its customers who will use environmentally friendly loans. The Vodafone Business Red Energy IoT Service Procurement Project, which will offer environmentally friendly loans and technological solutions will allow SMEs to reduce their carbon footprint by providing energy efficiency and at the same time reducing their costs. It aims to provide this service for 12 months to two hundred SME customers in the Bank’s portfolio who will use at least one green loan.

“SMEs need to report and control their energy consumption instantly, to reduce their energy consumption by making the right resource management, and to control equipment such as remote ventilation and lighting. With our Red Energy solution, which reduces electricity consumption by up to 30%, they can monitor the energy of electricity-consuming devices and make comparative reports between machines. They can remotely monitor the energy consumption of the machines and see the historical consumption. Moreover, SMEs can automatically adjust the air conditioners to the desired degree by remotely controlling them, and they can manage the indoor and outdoor lighting remotely with a single button. In addition, SMEs can also prevent unwanted consumption with reactive energy monitoring and alarm systems. We are very happy to expand this technology to SMEs together with Türkiye İş Bankası,” – said Özlem Kestioğlu, Chief Enterprise Business Unit Officer at Vodafone Turkey.

“We take actions that contribute to our common future by raising awareness within the scope of sustainability and turn this approach into concrete outputs. We increase our financing support to renewable energy, and resource efficiency projects with the awareness of the important role of the banking sector in the transition to a low carbon economy, in line with the principles of responsible banking, and to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. We are expanding our product and service diversity in this field with strategic collaborations. Thanks to the Vodafone Business Red Energy solution, it is starting the efficient transformation movement by offering the Vodafone IoT Technology-Based Energy Efficiency Service Package, where SMEs can monitor and control their energy consumption data in their enterprises or production facilities through a single platform, where they can save on their energy consumption and contribute to the green transformation of SMEs,”​ – said Özge Küllah Kurtuluş, Head of SME Banking Marketing Division at Türkiye İş Bankası.


Source: the Bank`s press release dated April 27, 2023

Raiffeisen Bank Romania offers instant payments for SMEs

Source: Raiffeisen Bank website,

Raiffeisen Bank in Romania offers its SME customers instant payment through the New Raiffeisen Online for SMEs and Raiffeisen Smart Business applications. So, SMEs can transfer their funds, under RON 50,000 (approx. EUR 10,000) in real-time.

The customers who have current accounts in RON at Raiffeisen Bank Romania can receive money from accounts opened at banks participating in the Instant Payments system, in less than 10 seconds.

In addition to instant payments, the Raiffeisen Smart Business application offers multiple benefits to SME customers: free notifications, balance view with a single move, smart search engines, payment templates, multiple authorizations, salary payments, sending account statements with a single click, etc.

“We are talking about another important step for the transformation of the way SMEs make their payments. The transactions are executed immediately, and the funds are reflected in the partners’ accounts in a few seconds. Instant access to money improves customer turnover and liquidity, thus facilitating the granting of possible commercial discounts. We continue to invest in the expansion of instant payments by adding new options, such as QR code transactions,” – said Florentina Stilu, Director of Transaction Services at Raiffeisen Bank Romania.

You can find more information here (in Romanian).


Source: the Bank`s press release dated April 12, 2023

Aware partners SME Banking Club in 2023


Aware became SME Banking Club’s Partner in 2023 again!

Aware is a global leading provider, which proposes its customers’ biometrics software services, solutions, and products. Aware’s identity verification solutions support financial services, enterprise security, HR, healthcare, border management, citizen ID, defense, law enforcement, and intelligence.

In 2021, SME Banking Club, together with Aware, organized a joint webinar on Secure Financial Onboarding and Transactions without Passwords.

In 2022, Enrique Caballero presented the topic called: The importance of biometric onboarding for the banking industry, during the latest CEE22 SME Banking Conference in Prague.

Watch full Enrique’s speech from the CEE22 Conference:

About Aware

Aware is an American company specializing in biometrics, which was founded in 1993. During all these years, Aware’s team fruitfully developed software products used to integrate advanced biometric functionality quickly and effortlessly into systems for a variety of applications. Its products and services are thoughtfully engineered for reliability, scalability, and adaptability to bring forth the next generation in cloud-based, multi-modal mobile biometrics. Currently, Aware’s solutions are actively used by more than 100 commercial leading customers and 80 government authorities worldwide.

About SME Banking Club

SME Banking Club was established by a team of former SME bankers in 2010 as a professional network of bankers to exchange information and experiences in the segments of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses. SME Banking Club organizes regional SME banking conferences and webinars that bring together financial institutions, technology companies, and development finance institutions to share knowledge, spur innovation and promote the development of SME Banking in the region. Also, it provides its members with access to detailed analytical market reports and annual studies. SME Banking Club’s main activities are concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe.

How to build a competitive advantage thanks to ESG certification?


ESG (environmental, social, and governance) certification is appearing to be one of the most important requirements these days. Concern for sustainable development is becoming extremely important, it’s becoming a measure of success (and measure of the success is going beyond just financial results). More governments, investors, counterparties, and even consumers started to demand that every business or company act responsibly to help address challenges like global warming, the loss of biodiversity, etc., but also social ones. The new generation of consumers and employees do pay attention whether they buy goods or work in an organization that is socially responsible, and simply ethical. We, as consumers, started checking the brands before we buy anything on ethical and social criteria, e.g. whether they have a business in russia, whether they use child labor, we started paying more attention to buying recycling goods, etc. And as soon as more ESG data is available the more it’ll define our buying behavior.

This responsibility is demonstrated through ESG certification. ESG data collection and reporting is the first step of a company’s ESG journey. The certification means that the organization is moving to and driving sustainable practices to reduce its impact on the environment and society.

In the EU, large companies must disclose ESG information under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD).

The NDRD applies to large public-interest companies with more than 500 employees, coveting approximately 11 700 large companies and groups across the EU, including:

  • listed companies
  • banks
  • insurance companies
  • other companies designated by national authorities as public interest entities.

From 2023 the scope is extended and approximately 50.000 companies in the EU, corresponding to 75% of the EU’s companies’ turnover, which are obliged to mandatory ESG reporting. SMEs will be next.

Technically, ESG certification is a 3rd party verification system used to measure a company’s key sustainability initiatives. 

On that matter, we partner with CRIF Poland, who provided their Synesgy platform to proceed with our first ESG certificate.

ESG certification (scoring) determines the company’s level of compliance with environmental, social, and corporate governance factors, also taking into account the sector and geographical area.


How to get prepared for ESG Certification: 

  • First of all, you should prepare your data (costs spent) on electricity, water, waste, etc, for the previous year (the scoring is done on an annual basis). At the moment input of such data to the platform is manual.
  • Adopting of ESG strategy and publishing it officially on the company’s website clear the objectives and show your first steps towards sustainability.
  • Devote the time to fulfill and analyze the data you input.
  • As a result of certification, you receive an Action plan on how to achieve your ESG goals: cut down the carbon footprint, and work on the social aspects of organizations that can help advance the welfare of the community. 

First ESG certificate gives a good starting point to analyze (and start thinking on that on an ongoing basis) and set the list of actions needed to become a sustainable organization, which should result in your competitive advantage in the market.


Are you interested in learning more?

Watch the webinar “ESG: reporting, data management, and business potential”.

New green financing for entrepreneurs at Millennium Leasing

Source: Millennium Bank

Since April 2023, Millennium Leasing in Poland has been expanding its offer with the leasing of environmentally friendly items. Thanks to it, entrepreneurs can finance comprehensively and on preferential terms as many as 53 groups of green assets, including a wide selection of machines and equipment. This is a novelty in the Polish market.

“Green investment leasing is a solution for entrepreneurs who want to implement a sustainable development policy in their businesses and significantly reduce electricity costs. For years, Millennium Leasing has been offering products aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. We do not stop there and include another product in our offer. In the green investment leasing offer, we focused mainly on assets from the group of machines and devices. Pro-ecological items are becoming more and more popular among customers and entrepreneurs are more and more willing to use leasing of these assets. That is why we want these solutions to be even more accessible to Polish entrepreneurs,” – said Marcin Balicki, President of the Management Board at Millennium Leasing.

As part of the offer, entrepreneurs benefit from a longer lease period, reduced interest rates, and a fast decision-making path. In addition, they can choose the option “3 lower installments to start” with an installment amount of only 10% of the standard rate. This solution allows them to reduce the burden in the initial period of the lease and postpone the repayment of the first 3 installments to a later date.

Leasing of green investments covers a wide range of items as many as 53 product groups. The most important are machines and devices. In addition to photovoltaic panels and installations, which have been financed in Millennium Leasing for many years, entrepreneurs can finance energy storage facilities, heat pumps, as well as specialized pro-ecological devices, e.g. electric car charging stations, lines, and machines for recycling plastics, waste, cables, tires, washing machines for containers, air treatment systems or machines for the production of ecological fuel pellets. Such a wide range of machines and equipment financing is unique on the market. Electric vehicles also constitute an important group in the green offer these are, of course, cars, but also scooters, bicycles, forklifts, and even buses. The customers can lease both new and used items.

“Taking into account the growing requirements for environmental protection and the entrepreneur`s expectations in this regard, I do not doubt that ecological investments are the future. Currently, the European Union is working on the air directive, which will radically tighten the limits of pollution levels. The indirect impact on customers choosing green solutions and technologies will also increase. And we are part of this positive green trend,” said Marcin Modliborek, Head of the Product Management Department at Millennium Leasing.


Source: Millennium Bank`s press release dated April 25, 2023

BNP Paribas Bank digitizes the lending process for farmers

Source: BNP Paribas Bank Polska

BNP Paribas Bank in Poland digitizes the lending process for medium and large agricultural enterprises. In the beginning, it introduces an online application. Over time, the entire process will be transferred to the Internet. It will be available to both existing and new customers.

“We implement modern technological solutions in subsequent areas of our activity to constantly improve customer service and provide them with the greatest possible convenience of using our services,” emphasizes Maciej Piskorski, Director of the Agro Products Department at BNP Paribas Bank. “Streamlining and digitizing the processes used in servicing the Bank’s customers, including farmers, is one of our goals set out in the GObeyond strategy,” he adds.

Since mid-April, farmers from the SME sector who would like to obtain a loan from BNP Paribas Bank have had a convenient eApplication. This solution makes it possible for all farmers in the Bank, both representing smaller and large farms, to submit a loan application electronically. The process begins on the side of the Bank’s advisor, who provides the customer with a form to complete. The application will be configured in such a way that it includes questions relevant to the specific situation of the entity applying for a loan. The data will go directly to the creditworthiness calculation system, which will speed up the whole process. Once the data has been entered, the customer will be able to use it when completing subsequent applications in the future.

BNP Paribas Bank is a recognized financial partner of Polish agriculture. The Bank has a wide range of loans that support investments or the current needs of farms.


Source: the Bank`s press release dated April 18, 2023

SME Banking Club is an international networking platform of business bankers aimed to provide relevant information on what banks and financial companies are offering for entrepreneurs, micro-, small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Latest posts