Increasingly customers expect a full range of digital products from their banks. Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola, a 70-year-old bank in Macedonia, is meeting the challenge.

In the last quarter of a century, the world has seen a transformation in customer behaviour – changed expectations, lifestyles and dynamic engagement with new technologies. Pew Research noted in 2018 that millennials had near total adoption of smartphones and social media, in turn influencing older generations.

These changes have challenged the traditional banking sector, who have been compelled to respond to the new digital economy.

Led by the tech principles of simplicity and minimalism, banks are attempting to find the right way to place their products in digital form to increase efficiency both for their own operations and the customer’s time.

The most effective way of achieving these goals is to align traditional backing products with digitalisation, say Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola, an innovative bank operating from Macedonia.

Take ATMs. They are there to withdraw money, but now they have extended functions – new ‘smart’ ATMs allow 24-hour access to your account, checking deposits, money transfer, depositing money on the account. ATMs even ‘talk to you’ since they now have a sound option, helping with access for clients with visual impairment.

Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola describes itself as a progressive and modern bank and a part of this global trend of digitalisation. It follows the innovations of the industry and keeps pace with social and cultural change. In its 70-year existence as one of the oldest banks in the Macedonian market, it is in an excellent position to describe the significant changes that have taken place over the decades.  President of Stopanska’s Management Board, Vladimir Eftimoski, said:

“We are witnesses of a total transformation of the operational processes, all we could not imagine 70 years ago. We’d argue that, because the transformation has been so rapid, we don’t know where banking will be in 70 years.

“As an accountable bank dedicated to the satisfaction of its clients’ needs, we attempt to follow the directions of the new digital era inexhaustibly. We pursue the pace of the modern times, create and introduce products in line with newly created market needs.

“Our products are in some way a redesign of the traditional model – meaning we adhere to the principles of simplicity, discretion and safety – since we believe that they are some of the essential characteristics of a banking service expected by the clients. The steps we make in these spheres might not be fastest, but they are absolutely safe and, all we have introduced so far as innovation has shown solid positive results.

“In general, banks in the Republic of Macedonia have already seriously turned to the technology transformation process, and we are all together in the race to offer our clients something more than a product or a service. We all want to find a way for them to feel the benefits and obtain high quality, different and innovative experience.

“This process is not easy, but it is extremely challenging especially for small and open economies as is that in which the banks work in the Republic of Macedonia.” 

Clients of Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola actively use the e-banking service, where they have 24-hour insight into their accounts, easy planning and tracking of their accounts as well as safe and straightforward completion of banking activities electronically. E-banking was the foundation of all further transformations introduced or are on the list to be launched by the Bank as a part of its engagement with the new market conditions.

The mobile application Bank2GO is new, innovative and easy to use application for mobile devices, allowing the client’s preview of all products and making transactions entirely safe.

Further enhancing the safety of client accounts and services will be Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola’s 3DS service. 3DS is a global solution designed for more secure e-commerce transactions, confirming that the real cardholder initiates the transactions. 3D Secure is recognised as the highest international standard for protection for internet transactions.

Transaction security and client safety will also be supported by Online Fraud Monitoring – real risk transaction monitoring parameters or offline monitoring on the level of inspection of suspicious transactions will be conducted by an employee responsible for monitoring risk transactions.

The bank has also introduced a Cash In Deposit option for ATMs, where a special module will allow the client to receive immediately available funds (limited amount per transaction).

Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola will also introduce an additional option for payment of bills through ATMs as well as a Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) option or preferential card currency whereby the ATM converts the amount of MasterCard transaction from the local currency (MKD) to the currency of the payment card’s country of issue. For that purpose, the cardholder can select a conversion option from the menu offered on the display, while the menu offers the amount of MKD to be withdrawn from ATM equivalent to the currency chosen and the commission for the conversion made.

The bank is currently engaged in a full-design rebrand of its numerous payment cards, and contactless payWave technology already used in some of its cards is planned to be introduced in all card brands with which the Bank cooperates.   

Upcoming plans are for the introduction of a digital wallet. And to make the Bank’s products available to the clients at any time, the bank is exploring the potential for online application for any of its products. Says Eftimoski:

“In the era of digital revolution, digitalisation is no longer a question of choice. It is something that every bank needs to do to become competitive and to satisfy customers’ demand for digital technology for their banking transactions.

“Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola is one of the well-established banks in the Macedonian market, aware of the complexity of the changes brought about by the new challenges. We have always sought to meet those challenges.

“Based on its abundant and long experience, the bank promptly and knowingly recognises the clients’ needs in all its functions and has responded by creating new products. We feel Stopanska banka a.d. Bitola is a market leader in the digital transf