22 September 2017
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Erste digital offshoot George hits one million customer milestone in Austria

14 June 2017  |  3604 views  |  0 Source: Erste

George, the digital banking platform developed by Erste Group Bank’s in-house fintech and widely recognized as one of the most advanced in Europe, has hit the one million users mark in Austria two years after its launch.

Roughly one in eight adult Austrians -- and every fourth online banking user in the country -- now uses the platform.

“We see the one million mark as a strong validation by our clients, with an average of 10,000 new users signing up every week. What clients say makes a huge difference to them is the fact that George is visual, intuitive and fun to use. But even more than that, they appreciate its modular structure, which enables them to actually build their very own George on top of its broad range of core functionalities. By helping them better manage their lifestyles, we see George as an example of how client data can be used for clients’ own benefit,” explains Peter Bosek, Chief Retail Officer at Erste Group.

George is designed as a front-end interface on top of a legacy core banking system, offering clients personalised digital banking to suit their differing needs. Its open platform approach and plug-in infrastructure provide it with exceptional customisability and flexibility, including for cooperation with fintechs and other third-party providers to add new features that provide clients with value-added solutions. Customers using George also benefit from the platform’s ability to import banking data for accounts they might have at other banks, applying George’s personal financial planner tools and analytics to it. George manages to open up the model of a traditional bank with data-driven services, while minimising the impact of a legacy system on real-time financial interactions. “We used design thinking to develop a platform that combines the best of two worlds. On one hand, as one of the largest banks in Austria and CEE, we’ve brought the advantage of scale, as well as the depth of our experience in financial and risk management; on the other hand, our plug-in approach brings the benefits of new value-added services, including those offered by fintechs,” Bosek states.

George’s ability to integrate plug-ins, including those from third parties, establishes it as the nucleus of new business models that will allow Erste Group to respond to the broader challenges raised by digitalisation disruption. With over 117,000 plug-ins activated by users, George has already developed into a marketplace. “We are looking forward to PSD2: it will bring about the ‘platformication’ of banking and is thus playing to our strengths. Our vision is to build the iTunes store of European finance,” Bosek adds.

Upcoming launches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia this year, followed by the Romanian market in 2018 will extend George to an additional 10 million Erste Group customers and beyond, turning it into the first financial aggregator in Central and Eastern Europe. By 2020, George will be available to all of Erste Group’s over 16 million customers in the seven markets in which the banking group is present. “George will be Erste Group’s standardized digital interface across CEE over the next three years,” Bosek notes. On a regional basis, the platform will be able to offer country-specific products and plug-ins; cooperation with other banks outside Erste Group's core markets is also under consideration.

George was awarded 3rd prize in the Digital Distribution category within the Efma & Accenture Innovation Awards. Autonomous, the independent research provider, recently ranked Erste Group among the top 3 retail digital banks in Europe.

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