Fintech Stories #2: Marek Šupa, CEO 365.bank
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
Fintech Stories is a series of in-depth interviews with fintech founders, CEOs, other doers and makers curated by Tomas, co-founder of innovation studio Booster Labs.
In the second edition of Fintech Stories, we sat down with Marek Šupa, CEO of 365.bank, the first smart bank in Slovakia. Marek talks about 365.bank concept, its vision and the reason why he decided to set up such a bank in Slovakia.
Marek, how would you briefly introduce 365.bank to somebody who does not know it at all?
365.bank is a bank that uses technology to offer its customers value add they are currently not getting from their banks. 365.bank brings about a new view of customer finances and thanks to an advanced data analysis helps to manage people’s finances better.
How did you become CEO of new bank in Slovakia? What is your story?
Back during my studies in 90s, I had an opportunity to do internship with one of the Slovak banks. I had an opportunity to start my career in banking sector but based on my experience from administration I decided not to pursue a career in banking sector back then.
I only started to be fully interested in financial sector after the outbreak of financial crisis in 2008, when there was an ideal environment for starting new fintech companies. Services which banks were offering were suddenly harder to access for average consumers. For example, securing a loan was more complex than ever before. Another important moment was proliferation of mobile technology which suddenly became a channel to access financial products.
Marek Šupa, CEO of 365.bank
What were the main reasons you decided 365.bank makes sense in the Slovak market?
I was very unsatisfied with the state of digital banking of other banks on our market. I believe there is a space to build a bank with a true value-add which is currently not offered in the Slovak market and which will clients want to use every day.
What will the added value be? What will 365.bank offer to its customers?
Firstly, we create the bank which is customer oriented from the get-go. Customer centric approach is part of our DNA. We believe our UX will be more advanced compared to what people are used to in traditional banking apps.
We think current bank applications are peppered with too many features which clients do not tend to use in the end. We´re entering the market with current account and debit card first. Other features we have already prepared or will be launched are decided based on the feedback from clients.
We believe we will be strong in offering saving products and thanks to our data analytics capability we will be able to show clients how they behave in comparison with other similar clients. We want to be a proactive bank - for example we want to notify client about possible changes in his or her behavior that might help to achieve his or hers goals quicker.
To summarize, 365.bank will provide clients with functionality which will help them to improve their financial health.
What kind of customers do you want to attract?
In the beginning, we want to attract customers with interest in new technology as 365 will be the bank with attractive communication and “fresh brand”. I believe that our second target group will be young people that will appreciate free account. The third target group we want to focus on are people who require comfort and are seeking new loan or financing product.
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What was or is the hardest task in building 365.bank? What are your learnings so far?
There were two hard tasks for me. First of all, persuading people within organization about meaningfulness of the project. The next thing was fulfilling Slovak legislative requirements.
It is incomprehensible for us that today Slovak citizens can open account in German bank online in a few minutes but with the Slovak bank they have to wait until next day for processing of the verification payment.
Was there something that was a surprise or a shock during the process of preparation 365.bank?
Slovakia is still a conservative country where most payments are made in cash. Demand for a mobile bank without branches is still relatively small in Slovakia when compared with abroad, where number of such banks is much higher.
The game is about a mobile bank becoming a personal assistant and guardian of client expenses. Therefore, we are convinced that opening this kind of intelligent and mobile bank in Slovakia makes sense.
365.bank - mobile application
365.bank is betting on startup cooperation. Can you tell us a little bit more?
We have chosen start-ups which offer unique solutions solving our needs. For example, we cooperate with Knoyd on predictive and analytics tools. With Habitable we work on UX. We use AI tech from Good AI to build our intelligent chatbot. Last but not least, together with Dateio, we work on our loyalty system based on big data.
We consider cooperation with start-ups as win-win situation – it brings us higher efficiency and at the same time we get to work with skilled and intelligent people who have huge potential.
What is your ambition with 365.bank?
Our short- term ambition is to launch the bank to the general public. Within five years we would like to have 200 to 250 thousand clients. At the same time, our ambition is not limited only to Slovakia. We believe there is a potential for growth within European Union as well.
365.bank - Savings Showcase
On Fintech, Banks and Fintech Partnerships
Is there something what you like or you use from current trends?
I use Curve and Revolut daily and in general I like applications which solve specific and tangible customer needs. I am really interested in apps dedicated to families and to management of family budget. Apps like Saldo, Osper or Go Henry give families very strong tool to manage family finance and teach kids how to work with electronic money. We would like to address this topic also in 365.bank
I really like Banqup too - it is a fintech platform for young entrepreneurs based on infrastructure from Solaris Bank and focused on building the best customer experience for small and medium businesses.
There are a lot of buzzwords flying around in banking these days - AI, open APIs (based on Directive PSD2), blockchain, chatbots and so on. Which of these will have the biggest impact on banking sector in few years?
Everything you have just named will have a huge impact on the banking sector. The question we ask in 365.bank is what priorities we have today.
One of our priorities is to bring daily banking with added value and another priority is to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze data in new ways. Thank to these data points, 365.bank can be more intelligent than other banks.
Taking into consideration that you have experience with other fintech start-ups, what advice would you give to people who want to set-up fintech start-up?
If only the people starting fintech start-ups spent more time on business model so that their products would not be just working from clients’ point of view, but would also have a sound monetization strategy.
I think more mature fintech companies should be very careful with communication to their customers. It happens very often that leading fintech companies such as N26, Monzo or Monese bring in new additional customer-facing fees and limitations which hurts their credibility in the long run.
365.bank - mobile application
To conclude - what do you like the most about your job?
Definitely the dynamics of my job. The opportunity to create bank is something unbelievable and simply put it is a great experience. What I like even more is that together with my team we are creating a bank which will solves our problems we experience ourselves.
Thanks a lot for the interview, Marek!
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