BRD: embracing digital in the banking sector
As one of the leading banks in Romania, BRD - Groupe Société Générale is in the midst of a significant digital transformation. Technology is considered the lifeblood of the company and is central to operations.
BRD is the Romanian affiliate of Groupe Société Générale and operates under its wider umbrella. “It’s a flexible relationship,” explains Florin Boldescu, Chief Digital Officer at the firm. “There’s many banks from different countries all working together and it provides a great opportunity to discuss new ideas and learn from each other. It’s an open banking environment where all banks can work together towards a common goal.”
BRD’s digital transformation ambitions are focused on several key areas, such as: evolving towards digital ready architecture (decoupling, API, services), embracing Agility to deliver faster, be better aligned with business teams, leverage a DevOps approach (automation, software factory, cloud) and provide a flexible workplace to employees.
Both Boldescu and Eric Ruiz, Chief Information Officer at BRD, believes in the importance of embracing change amidst a major shift in culture. “We were one of the first banks to launch a mobile banking app over a decade ago. It’s great to look back on and we’re proud that we have brought our contribution,” says Boldescu. “The entire banking industry is an open and highly dynamic environment and in order to meet these challenges, it requires a change in culture. Sometimes you need to overhaul the business in order to change your perception and the way you make decisions. This led to the creation of the Digital Hub.”
BRD’s Digital Hub has been developed to allow for better interaction with customers and is a key part of its strategy to cover several channels and better meet individual customer demands. “Over the past year, the market has shifted in a unique way,” explains Boldescu. “Although change is great, we can’t afford to leave people behind. We have to ensure we migrate the older generation smoothly and make the transition as easy as possible.” With the Romanian market experiencing high levels of growth over the past few years, BRD has established a more seamless, omnichannel approach in a bid to improve its user experience. “We still have customers that like to come into a branch to do their banking but in Romania, digital is becoming increasingly prominent,” says Ruiz. “There’s substantial competition and some of our competitors might have great ideas so we can’t stand still.” Due to the acceleration of digitalisation in the banking industry, Ruiz adds Agile software development (Agile) has become a key component of BRD’s transformation. “In order to implement Agile, we first had to determine exactly what it is and what we wanted it to achieve. To accomplish this, establishing a step-by-step approach was essential,” explains Ruiz. “Agile is a new way of working and we’ve trained our people and paired them with an Agile coach. It’s a great way to make processes more efficient and drive real value for our business.”
In a bid to drive operations, BRD has established several strategic partnerships such as IT Smart Systems and Backbase. “Our partner, IT Smart Systems (ITSS), has made an important contribution to our digital transformation journey and continues to show a strong commitment to meet our common objectives inside the omnichannel and OpenBanking & PSD2 programmes,” explains Ruiz. “ITSS already helped BRD to digitalise its corporate trade finance business and also set up the PSD2 APIs.”
“With proven senior expertise on Backbase Digital Banking, Forgerock Digital Identity and digital transformation in general, IT Smart Systems’ team of professionals work with us in the Hub to help create that omnichannel hyper-personalised yet secure user experience for our customers and employees,” adds Boldescu. “We will continue to strengthen our partnership with IT Smart Systems as a trusted and valuable partner for BRD.”
The banking world is showing no signs of slowing down. Due to the significant level of technology at financial institutions, companies now more than ever, are seeking to digitalise their offerings and streamline services for their customers. However, although the acceleration of digital is primarily considered a good thing, it also brings with it the issue of cybercrime. To combat this, Ruiz places considerable value on his firm’s cybersecurity approach. “Every solution we put on the market is controlled by a security team and each has its own security file. It undergoes a penetration test, and if there’s any issues that flag up, we address it,” he explains. “We also conduct a regular vulnerability scanning, internally and externally to ensure our security is where it needs to be.”
With the future in mind, both men harbour clear objectives for the next few years. “Our idea for the future is digital and especially mobile-first. We value innovation and want to provide its value to our customers,” summarises Ruiz. “Our ambition is to completely digitalise the customer experience — that’s the plan.”