The market for financial & banking services is in a new stage of development, being concerned with redefining some new business models and developing new services, a stage meant to bring about more openness, transparency and competitiveness and stimulate innovation. At global level, in the banking & financial sector, the new priorities are digitalization and innovation. The digital model has changed the game for ever: to stay relevant in financial & banking services means becoming an active part of customers’ digital lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new challenges for financial institutions, for the business environment and for the population, with movement restrictions and social distancing accelerating the usage of remote services. If, until now, we were talking about the opportunities generated by technology, today, digitalization has indeed become a must in order to continue providing for customers access to products and services, efficiently and safely, on short and medium-term but also on a longer period of time – which cannot be known currently, due to the many unknown aspects in the development of this unprecedented global crisis.

Contemplating innovation and digitalization, the financial & banking industry is one of the most dynamic sectors, rolling out a number of projects meant to lead to major structural changes. These changes are related to enhancing the performance of the services delivered to customers but also to the automation and modernization of internal systems, in line with technological progress.

Adopting digital technologies in financial & banking services addresses consumers’ expectations and requirements regarding the simplification of the access to banking operations via the new information and telecommunication technologies, while, at the same time, enhancing the financial inclusion of the people living in less-developed areas.

The general amenity of Romania’s economy before foreign investors and competitiveness improvements in any domain – by providing a level playing field regarding access to payment applications and services, investments, loans and deposits – are the direct consequences of digitalization in banking & finance.

For the banking sector, the wide-scale implementation of digital solutions and the maximal turning to account of their scope potential lead to increasing customer satisfaction and to a larger customer base, next to cost cutting, which, in the end, will be transferred to the benefit of consumers – via tariff cuts for accessing and making several financial & banking operations.

The Romanian Association of Banks has been promoting dialogue with all stakeholders – institutions, representatives of consumer associations, the business environment, the mass media – in order to improve and harmonise the legal framework in force, so as to allow for the accelerating of the process of adopting digital technologies in the financial & banking sector.

The project targets certain types of problems which can be addressed in order to reach the aim mentioned above, such as:

Simplifying the procedures on the authentication and verification of customer identity under the KYC procedures:

  • Recognizing the digital environment as a safe environment for conducting KYC activities, together with the same procedures performed by banks;
  • Clarifying and simplifying the legislation on outsourcing these procedures;
  • Adapting the legislation on information exchange between public and private institutions for identity verification, while observing the provisions on personal data protection;

Accepting digital documents and customers’ consent in digital format:

  • generalizing the transfer of documents in digital format;
  • devising some automated, real-time verification procedures with several institutional partners;
  • the customers who connect via the Internet or via mobile banking applications;
  • recognising the legal value of the simple and advanced electronic signatures, in conformity with the European regulatory framework;

Simplifying the procedures on the proof of customer revenues:

  • Allowing for the usage of a scoring based on the information held by banks for the customers with a track-record of revenue accounts.

The Digital Agenda Platform includes the following completed / under construction projects of the banking community:

  • Modernizing the national legal framework, transposing and enforcing the provisions of the new European regulations on payments;
  • Adopting the SEPA standards for lei payments – SEPA RON, publishing the standards for payment messages at national level on the electronic platform MyStandards and managing the National Payment Schemes across the banking community;
  • Inter-institutional cooperation in order to render more efficient garnishment processing, via an automated electronic system;
  • Developing an ecosystem for Instant Payments and a payment infrastructure by always contemplating the needs of end-customers, via credit institutions adopting on a wide scale the Instant lei Payment Scheme launched in April 2019, the AliasPay service (money transfers between accounts opened with different banks by using the beneficiary’s mobile phone number instead of the IBAN code), launched in March 2021 and a QR code at national level;
  • Developing a central platform for registering natural persons and for updating their personal data;
  • Cooperation of the banking sector with the authorities in the field in order to strengthen cyber security measures, to inform just in time all banks regarding incidents – with a view to facilitate the exchange of the indicators of compromise identified – and to urgently apply prevention and remedy measures.