European Business: Ms. Hegedüs, GRÁNIT Bank was launched as a purely digital bank in 2010. Why was this strategy chosen?
Éva Hegedüs: There were four key factors. I have worked in the banking sector for over 20 years, and my experience has shown that the internet has significantly changed the attitude and behaviour of customers. Secondly, even in the early 2000s, it was clear that there was no further potential for growth in offering customers a branch network. It was also obvious that a digital bank would be more cost effective. Finally, in 2010 the market was already extremely competitive, and in that situation you need a unique selling point to stand out. Based on these criteria, we opted to create a business model based on digital banking, with conservative credit politics and a decentralized deposit structure. Our goal was to establish an online banking platform, not just for standard electronic banking but one which could also be used for mobile phone banking. This has proved to be the right decision; today mobile phones are used for a huge volume of banking business
European Business: Who are your target customer groups?
Éva Hegedüs: We have a good track record in retail banking, and in corporate finance for both SMEs and large corporates.
European Business: What is special about the service offered by GRÁNIT Bank?
Éva Hegedüs: Our service is fast, cost effective and easy to use. A customer can open an account with us within six minutes. We have focused on creating a portfolio of innovative products. We were the first bank to launch a video bank service – GRÁNIT VideoBank – which enables customers to talk directly to an advisor in the comfort of their own home, using a PC, tablet or mobile phone. We were also the first bank in Europe to offer new generation mobile payment – GRÁNIT Pay – where customers pay using their mobile phone on NFC compatible POS terminals and receive an eSMS to confirm the transaction. Of course, security is a priority. We have invested heavily in this area, and have created solutions such as GRÁNIT Lock which, if the bank card is stolen, suspends the account so that no-one can make any further transactions.
European Business: Besides innovation, what has been key in GRÁNIT Bank’s incredible success story?
Éva Hegedüs: The other important elements of our business model are conservatism in terms of our credit politics, and knowledge of our business and the market. We have strong management, and a team of 100 highly experienced and committed staff. We also have a solid investor network. Of course, it helped that we launched the business at a time when the market was ripe for such innovation. Normally it takes six to seven years for a new bank to make a profit. We achieved it within four years.
"Our service is fast, cost effective and easy to use. A customer can open an account with us within six minutes." Éva HegedüsCEO and Chairperson of GRÁNIT Bank
European Business: GRÁNIT Bank specializes in digital banking. How do you see the challenges of digitalization for the market in general?
Éva Hegedüs: A large bank with a 20 year old IT system and a large back office will find it difficult and cost intensive to digitalize. However, not doing it is not an option. For consumers, simplicity and responsiveness are standard demands to which banks must respond, not only in their accounting systems but also in money movement and credit services. The days of massive growth in the banking sector are over. The market is very competitive, and without digitalization there can be no growth. Many new finance technology companies have been established which will create significant challenges within the banking sector. In this respect, GRÁNIT Bank has huge advantages over many of its more traditional competitors.
European Business: What plans do you have for GRÁNIT Bank’s future?
Éva Hegedüs: We want to strengthen our position in the digital bank sector through continued innovation, development and growth, ideally generating new business through the recommendations of satisfied customers. It is an honour to lead GRÁNIT Bank, and hugely inspiring and motivating too, so of course, I want it to be as successful as possible. I always say I have three children – two adult ones and the bank.