Poland's Alior to slash branch network in 'digital disruptor' push

Poland's Alior to slash branch network in 'digital disruptor' push

Poland's Alior Bank is vowing to cement its place as a leading 'digital disrupter' over the next three years, slashing the size of its branch network and pumping money into technology.

Although only launched in 2008, Alior has built up a network of 324 branches, with another 786 outlets.

But with the rise of online and mobile channels, the bank is already embarking on a major overhaul of how it does business, preparing to slim down to 200 of its own sites and 680 franchises over the next three years.

The branches that remain will get upgrades, with the latest mobile tools and "well paid bankers" providing more than simple cash transactions.

The move will free up money for an £80 million splurge on IT and innovation projects (on top of current tech spending) over the next three years.

Alior has set itself a target of getting more than 40% of end-to-end sales done through digital channels by 2020 and is gearing up to launch a financial broker aggregator by the end of the year.

In a presentation (PDF), the bank makes clear its interest in all of the tech flavours of the month: blockchain, cloud, biometrics AI and big data. It says that it is carrying out a DLT proof-of-concept, has rolled out fingerprint tech and is working on voice and face recognition, and is waiting on regulatory approval for cloud-based collaboration tools.

AI work is already underway in the shape of an inhouse-built tool called Dronn, which supports collection processes. Meanwhile, it has enlisted IBM to use Watson for internal processes.

Improved use of data is helping the bank better understand its customers through behavioural segmentation. Using analysis of several data pools it has identified five priority segments to target. For instance, a 35 year old who "enjoys life" and is influenced by ads who can be sent Black Friday promotions.

All of this is designed to cement Alior's place as a leading Polish bank and boost return on equity from eight per cent to 14% by 2020.

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