BSC Business Support Center and the Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE) conducted the 2nd public-private dialogue (PPD) meeting in the frames of the joint project of “Shaping the Digital Economy Agenda in Armenia". The meeting was held on June 29 and was the 2nd meeting of the series of 8 PPDs.
“Cooperation between banks and the private sector on digitalization agenda” meeting’s purpose was to create a communication platform between financial sector organizations and representatives of the private sector, which will facilitate their cooperation on the way to digital transformation.
During the meeting, questions and proposals regarding digitalization were raised by the attendees, the scope of cooperation between banks and the private sector, existing problems and opportunities were discussed.
At the beginning of the discussion, Luiza Ayvazyan, the head of the Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE) Armenia office, and Самвел Геворкян, the founding director of the BSC Business Support Center (BSC) delivered their welcome speech.
The moderator of the discussion was Olga Semyonova, cyber security specialist at Grant Thornton Armenia.
The participants of the discussion were 40 representatives of the public and private sectors, banks, credit and fintech organizations.
A brief summary of the meeting can be found below:
1․ How has digitalization affected the communication between banks and their customers?
– Business expert Samvel Gevorgyan mentioned the example of Kazakhstan, where banks provide favorable conditions to organizations whose business processes are automated. Due to this, the effectiveness of cooperation between the bank and the private organization increases, the process in the bank becomes faster, because all the documents are obtained in the necessary format. With such an opportunity, government institutions or financial sector organizations can guide the private sector towards digitalization.
– Attendees shared their experience regarding the tools and platforms offered by banks, noting that sometimes people do not have access to new digital opportunities and encounter difficulties in using digital tools. Director of Customers Support Center Ashot Mirzoyan spoke about this point, proposing to have educational initiatives in parallel with the implementation of new systems and digital tools, to teach the society how to use digital solutions. Responding to this question, the director of the Information Systems Agency of Armenia (ISAA) Nerses Yeritsyan said that they are committed to involve representatives of the academic sector, to include an educational component within the framework of their activities. Nerses Yeritsyan made it clear that it is definitely necessary to ensure progress, regardless the digital skills and capabilities people have at this moment.
2․ What are the barriers for digitalization of financial sector organizations?
– One of the main obstacles is the lack of digitalized processes in the state infrastructures. In this regard, the process of introducing a national credibility platform in the ISAA has already started, an architecture is being created, standards are being implemented, which will regulate public procurement and guide the private sector to perform their business processes in the right format.
– Several representatives of credit organizations mentioned that it requires quite a lot of financial investments for companies to conduct an individual digitalization process. As a result, organizations often have to choose alternative ways, which makes the process more complicated and slower. According to the representative of the credit organization, the most complicated process is the identification of customers, where joining the credit bureau is not solving the issue, as all partners have to join to carry out customer identification. Referring to this point, Nerses Yeritsyan mentioned that the Mobile ID unified platform was created with the cooperation of telecoms and banks operating in RA, which enables private organizations to connect to the platform through API and get access to customer data with a paid subscription. In this regard, the agency’s target is that by the end of 2023, the data of about 1 million citizens will be available on the unified Mobile ID platform.
– A representative of a private sector virtual PBX service provider added that the main barrier to implementing their service is the lack of trust: people don’t want to enable their call recordings or give access to their customer databases to a 3rd party. Siranush Seyranyan mentioned that businesses are quite committed to digital transformation, there is no need to explain and convince the need for digitalization anymore. Regarding this point Nerses Yeritsyan mentioned that a working group is being formed within the framework of the ISAA activities, which will develop a program of legislative reforms, as well as a bill on cyber security and data security.
3․ What measures are banks and financial organizations taking to effectively compete with blockchain and fintech organizations?
– The representative of the credit organization mentioned that they have already adopted the approach to engage customers and keep involved not only through paid services, but also through social initiatives. They implement various educational and rural community development programs, have created a charity fund that helps students with their internship and easily enter the labor market.
– Samvel Gevorgyan mentioned the example of Tinkoff Bank, which offers accounting services to its clients. Thanks to the automated system, having the information about all the client’s transfers, it is an easy process for banks to carry out accounting services, and to become a reliable partner for its clients.
– The representative of the CBA, Arsen Aramyan, stated that the challenge for banks to compete with fin tech organizations is already real, because open banking will be launched soon, banks will have to provide digital services and enter into direct competition with their IT solutions. Arsen Aramyan called on banks to enrich their IT departments, implement API layers and attract new employees, offering IT specialists’ salaries corresponding to market prices. Referring to this point, the representative of ArmBusinessBank, Vahan Harutyunyan, said that they have already noticed the need for new specialists, tried to involve them by offering different working conditions from the banking sector. Vahan Harutyunyan mentioned that they tried to involve students of the final year of the bachelor’s degree, to train them, to help them enter the labor market.
– Arsen Mnatsakanyan, representative of an IT organization, made a proposal to involve IT specialists with a short-term contract. The attendees agreed that “developer as a service” format is becoming relevant, and banks can cooperate with IT organizations in that format, bypassing the problems of attracting permanent employees. Arsen Mnatsakanyan mentioned that we have IT specialists in Armenia who are experienced in working with large foreign banks and companies, and suggested involving them, localize their knowledge and experience.
The series of public-private dialogues (PPDs) is carried out within the framework of the “Shaping the Digital Economy Agenda in Armenia" project of the Business Support Center (BSC) and the Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE). To participate in the next PPD meetings of the project, follow our announcements.