With this eighth episode of SME Banking Conversations with Olena Gryniuk, we are continuing the series of inspiring interviews on SME Banking, digital transformation, and people making innovations happen in the industry!
The recording of the eighth episode took place in Warsaw (Poland). Olena Gryniuk – CEE Director at SME Banking Club, speaks to Mirka Mioducka – Product Owner at Santander Bank Polska about value-added services for SMEs.
Listen to this conversation on our SoundCloud channel:
Olena Gryniuk: Value-added services. What does this definition cover in Santander?
Mirka Mioducka: Santander value-added services for SMEs are the services that help our customer manage their business, but they are not typical services like loans or accounts. The first added service that we implemented was accounting. We are a bank; we don’t have accounting knowledge. So, we choose to work with a company that is implementing and developing an accounting application for SMEs for many years, this is e-invoicing but not only. Customers can manage accounting by themselves, or they can get help from the accounting office. We wanted to make the process of using the services simple. We decided to implement value-added services in electronic banking because we have our customer data, so customers don’t have to set this data again and log in to other websites.
OG: I would say that SME customers started to expect such kinds of services from the banks, they do believe that banks can be trusted providers of such services. So, this is great that you’re doing this. Who is your targeted customer for such services?
MM: We implemented value-added services in electronic banking so we can offer this solution for sole traders only for now.
OG: You implemented the biggest number of value-added services in the Polish market. You mentioned that your first one was online accounting. You have e-invoicing, you have e-collection, right? You have electronic agreements – SMEs can create, sign, and send agreements to their counterparties online. And you implemented all those services with the partners, right?
MM: Yes, exactly. We’ve already implemented seven value-added services. We also have factoring, medical package, leasing, and bid bond guarantee. Each value-added service is provided by a different external partner. Each of those collaborations is also successful for us. We learn from each other because the bank is a very big and complex institution, and our providers are smaller companies. So, we had to learn how to cooperate, and how to work together.
OG: What is the feedback of your customers?
MM: External and internal surveys have shown that customers need such solutions because they don’t have time to search a market, they don’t have time to search the solution. Customers like the fact that we search for a service provider for them. About 40000 of our customers are using value-added services and these customers have a higher NPS. So, that means they are more likely to recommend our services, and they are more loyal. However, at the end of the day, that is our customers, for whom we have carefully checked every provider. We checked the market, we checked the services, customer journey. So, the customer can focus on just what is most important for them, their business, their company, and their private life.
OG: You solve their problems and you’re giving them more time for business and families. This year I read several surveys here in the Central Eastern Europe markets that entrepreneurs spent from 6 to 8 hours a week for non-core activities such as invoicing exactly, accounting, paying taxes, and other let’s call it bureaucratic or paperwork. Implementation of value-added services for SMEs is beneficial for everybody, for the customers as they can focus on their core targets, and for the banks due to several reasons. First of all, banks will have stronger SMEs because they will focus more on the businesses and will get more revenue. So, they will be financially stronger. The business processes will be organized better. Third, providing such services can bring additional revenues for the banks. And last but not the least, I would say maybe the most important is that having all these data on the customer, transactions, invoice data, and accounting data, you can personalize the offer for SMEs as much as possible. What we see now is that 30% of the banks here in the region offer value-added services for SMEs. My question to you is which challenges do you feel banks have right now? Which challenges did you have and what was this breaking point when the bank starts implementing such services?
MM: Yes, six-eight and sometimes more hours spent on paperwork, checking changes in the law, in accounting. That’s a lot. Our first assumption when we decided to implement the value-added services in electronic banking, was that the process must be online. So, no extra paperwork, no running around to sign another contract. It was the most important for us. We know that our customers are digital and Polish banking is very technologically advanced. So, we didn’t want to have a standalone solution, we wanted to connect our data, banking data, and accounting data. Our customers are very digital, so they prefer to send an invoice to their accounting office online, they don’t go there and spend a lot of time on traffic. You said, a maximum of 30% of banks in the CEE region offer value-added services. I think maybe banks are afraid to sell non-banking services because they are not simple. If the managers want to sell this product, they must have some extra knowledge connected with factoring, leasing with health packages, with accounting. It is a little bit complicated for them, some extra information.
OG: You mentioned online sending of invoices and knowing that in Poland – within one year, in European countries, and here in the CEE – the next two-three years e-invoicing will become obligatory for all companies, for all entrepreneurs. So, this is a really great opportunity for the banks to become such a provider.
MM: I think it is a game-changer. So, customers should choose an online provider which helps them send an invoice for the customer.
OG: Yes, it would be great if it is integrated with online banking at once, with your accounts, right? So, you can, send a transfer or pay the invoice with 1, 2, or 3 clicks.
MM: Yes, we are working on it! I’m looking forward to it! Now all banks have almost the same offer. They are selling loans; they are selling accounts. Implementation of value-added services is a game changer. I think the customer in the future will choose a bank with a far better non-banking offer, not only with the loans and accounts.
OG: I think they already do. This is really becoming a competitive advantage. And my dream and view on that are that in several years VAS should be included in a standard SME banking offer.
MM: I hope in the future customer will choose online applications because they are connected with electronic banking and information data from electronic banking can get automatically to the accounting services and from accounting services to the bank. So, you have one ecosystem for the company, you have everything, every data in one place. You don’t have to log in to many services. So, it’s a crucial and simple way to manage a business.
OG: This year, you launched a program called Strong in Business targeted at women entrepreneurs, right? Say about it more, what are the results?
MM: Strong in Business is a joint project with Polish Entrepreneurs Foundation, within which we want to support women who want to set up their businesses or develop their businesses. Between May and November, we will hold ten webinars for them, for example, about building a personal brand, how to create a business plan, and team management. And a part of the project is competition. Participants can win financial support and of course, they have a huge amount of information about how to develop their businesses and their companies. Today more than 2000 females participated in our webinars. This is huge. I am very proud that our bank can help women and show how they can manage the business and develop their businesses and themselves.
OG: Mirka, what is your path to Santander Bank Polska?
MM: I work in Santander for almost 12 years. I started with debt collection. I called customers which didn’t pay loans. And later I was working in a department connected with an investment fund. And for seven years I work in the SME department. So, now I am a product owner for daily banking and value-added services. And now I’m starting to create a new team and we will develop features for SMEs in mobile applications, for example, value-added services.
OG: How big is the SME banking team, and the team responsible for the value-added services in the bank?
MM: All department counts about 90 people. And my team is me and eight persons. But I hope that in a new team because we have a totally new adventure, we have to prepare new solutions and features in mobile applications, we will have 15 at least, I hope.
OG: What are you preparing for SMEs right now?
MM: We already implemented seven value-added services, so we don’t have a plan to implement more for now. We want to promote these value-added services because not every customer knows about them. We want to implement a value-added service in the mobile application. So, this is the most important task for next year. And we are extending our cooperation with inFakt – it’s an accounting solution. Now our customers can see our Santander loan offer on the e-accounting website. So, this is something new for us, we are very excited about this new project that you are waiting for customers to learn from external source information about our offers.
OG: This is great! Mirka, thank you very much for this conversation!
MM: Thank you so much!
Watch the conversation below: