Oleksii Iatsenko became the Chairman of the Management Board of Megabank JSC, Ukraine in July 2019. He has been in senior management with the bank since 2010, during which time Megabank has established a foothold among the twenty most reliable banks of Ukraine, according to various rating agencies.
When Wanda Rich, editor of Global Banking & Finance Review, spoke with him recently, she began by asking him about the various ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the business. “It had an impact more in social aspects,” Oleksii explained. “In order to take care of our employees and customers, we had to change the usual mode of servicing. We have done – and continue to do – everything in order to comply with the recommendations for the protection and safety of our customers and employees as much as possible.
“The pandemic has had an impact on the amount of online services. Of course, at this time, customers began to actively switch to the bank’s online services. On the one hand, we saw a high demand there. On the other, there was a huge load on all our online systems and platforms – website and mobile application, self-service terminals, and all remote service facilities.
We have calculated that within a year of the pandemic in Ukraine (March 2020 – March 2021), the number of payments – in particular, utility bills – increased by 346% through the bank’s mobile application, which is todobank; by 48% through the bank’s online platform Integral Clearing Center for paying utility bills and making other payments, and by 46% through the bank’s self-service M-box terminals.”
Megabank has been fortunate to not experience a huge negative impact. “The segment of clients, which at one time was chosen by the bank as strategic – micro and small enterprises in the agricultural sector – received a minimal negative impact due to the pandemic and managed to adapt to the new conditions. Representatives of this sector had the opportunity, with our help, to receive support within government support programmes.”
Oleksii emphasised that the bank took careful measures to ensure that the needs of employees and customers were appropriately met during this period. “It was the key task of the bank to transfer as many employees as possible to work remotely,” he said. “Before that, we analysed the minimum number of people needed to ensure the stable operation of all bank systems. For these employees, we provided transfer to and from work.
“Megabank also paid for laboratory tests for employees who showed the first symptoms of a viral disease, or who had had contact with a confirmed case. We also provided financial assistance to those who fell ill with COVID-19, and provided open branches with personal protective gears, information on distancing, regular disinfection of premises, etc.”
Making as many online services available as possible was another necessary step to support customer safety. “Megabank has accelerated the implementation of online technologies in order to give customers maximum online services. As an example, to stimulate the social responsibility of our customers, we introduced cashback for paying utility bills using the bank’s mobile application and web portal.”
Creating satisfied customers is also the basis of Megabank’s product development strategy. “The driving force behind product creation is, first of all, our customers’ expectations,” he said. “We constantly monitor the requests of our customers, as well as market trends and new technologies. It is important for us to meet the needs of customers in the new products launched by Megabank.”
In this vein, todobank also came about. “Customers’ requests led to the creation of todobank. Megabank has many customers who use banking services for making payments.
“The bank processes a large number of customers’ transactions and, in fact, is a kind of a transaction hub,” Oleksii continued. “It became obvious that people needed a platform that would allow using a smartphone to make all these payments without visiting a bank branch, in any convenient place and time. Megabank processes a large number of utility bills, so there was a task to implement their payment through a mobile application. This is how the idea of launching todobank was born. As for how todobank differs from others, all similar neobanks in Ukraine were launched primarily as a tool for issuing cards with their subsequent servicing. In order to become a user of any neobank application in Ukraine, you need to order and receive a card. A unique feature of todobank is that in order to become a client, you just need to download a mobile application and start using it, being the owner of any card of any bank. And if you wish, you can order a credit card from todobank. In addition, a prepaid card is available from todobank with which you can make certain transactions.”
Customer accessibility being always at the forefront of Megabank’s thinking, the application process for a todobank card is especially important. “You need to fill in a short questionnaire and take a photo of an identity document, and a courier will bring your card at a convenient time. You can also get it at any branch of the bank.”
Oleksii also spoke to Wanda about the digital solutions offered by Megabank which include the clearing system, Integral Clearing Center. “This is one of the unique digital solutions that Megabank offers today. It is a unique feature of the bank that allows you to pay all utility bills in one payment. This year we plan to launch the possibility of paying in a single payment for all types of utility bills at all addresses that are in the possession of our client. In addition, the system allows you to view online the status of debts for all types of utility services, such as heating, gas, electricity, water supply, intercom, cable TV, internet, etc. Since last year it has also become possible to transfer meter readings – that is, the volume of consumed services for the accounting period. This can be done through the bank’s mobile application, and there is no need to contact each service provider separately. This significantly saves our customers’ time.”
Megabank – and Ukraine as a whole – are also ahead of the curve in terms of digital identification recognition. “This year, Ukraine became the first country in the world to make a decision at the legislative level that the electronic version of the passport is equivalent to its paper counterpart,” Oleksii said. “Megabank is fully prepared for this. Today our clients can go through identification with the help of Megabank and get access to the Diya application. Diya contains digital versions of clients’ documents: passports, driver’s license, tax payer card, etc. In addition, our clients only need to present a digital version of their passport in the Diya application in order to get service at the bank branch. There is no need to carry a paper version of your documents with you. This is a big step forward in our bank’s paperless policy.”
Agribusiness remains an important focus for the bank, and they make sure to open up financial opportunities and support the growth of clients in this sector. “Megabank has a large number of products for this sector,” Oleksii emphasised. “We adapt these products every year so that they remain relevant and in demand. The bank offers agroscoring, which allows making a decision on the issuance of a loan to micro and small agribusiness enterprises and private farms within 48 hours. It also provides a wide range of unsecured loans to farms to replenish working capital between seasons. The bank participates in government programmes to support this sector of the Ukrainian economy and, together with foreign partners, the bank financed loans for the development of agribusiness, energy efficiency and green energy.”
Oleksii also went into how corporate and social responsibility are important now. “In 2019, Megabank was the first in Ukraine to become an associate member of the international independent network of banks, Global Alliance for Banking on Values,” he explained. “We purposefully joined the association because its values include responsible banking business, which involves the use of finances to ensure sustainable economic, social and environmental development, which are the values of Megabank today.
“As part of our social responsibility, the priority areas of financing for us are energy efficiency; equipment and technology upgrade, including public utility providers which leads to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions; transition to electric vehicles, and energy-saving technologies in construction as well as alternative energy sources. We also consider it our social responsibility to participate in the initiatives of local authorities on the population’s access to digital services.
“During the pandemic, we could not stand aside. Megabank provided financial support to medical institutions by purchasing the necessary equipment.”
Oleksii is confident that the coming year will see a marked difference from the past twelve months. “2020 for Megabank was a year of challenges and opportunities. I am sure that 2021 will be the year of success and growth for Megabank.”