Interview with Haris Ceco

AT COMTRADE DIGITAL SERVICES, WE STRIVE TOWARDS BUILDING LONG-TERM WIN-WIN PARTNERSHIPS

 

The Fleming team sits down with Haris Ceco, VP and GM Fintech, Comtrade Digital Services, to discuss digital transformation in retail banking. The first question is some what obvious: Comtrade enables companies to digitally transform, but how do you ensure Comtrade remains the partner of choice considering the financial industry is booming with FinTechstart-ups?

 “Comtrade’s Fintech unit has this unique mixture of domain knowledge, experience, and innovative technology”, replies Ceco, who in his time with Comtrade, has worked with more clients from Financial industry than he can count.

“At Comtrade Digital Services, we strive towards building long-term win-win partnerships, where we take on the role of innovation-technology partner,” he adds.

 

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Haris Ceco, VP and GM Fintech, Comtrade Digital Services

Comtrade Digital Services is a leading software engineering services and solutions provider. Through understanding of the new roles in technology-savvy businesses and with over 25 years of hands-on experience on numerous projects, the company enables clients across different industries to innovate faster and reinvent their business models digitally by leveraging agile development methodologies, innovative technology, and business acumen. When it comes to engineering banking solutions, Comtrade relies on a holistic approach to ensure its clients’ business is running at its full potential.

 

Haris, in your experience, what are the largest challenges of digital transformation in retail banking?

While we usually talk about the external challenges and benefits of digital transformation, its success relies heavily on internal processes. Digital transformation means change and requires a shift in the thinking of the entire organization, as well as new skills that need to be developed internally or outsourced. Considering this, the largest challenge is the shift in the thinking and restructuring of organizations, especially in traditional industries such as banking. The most difficult questions are always connected to switching people and teams onto the agile mindset while executing the right digital strategy and adopting the customer-centric approach while remaining compliant.

What are your clients usually most worried about when it comes to taking on such significant projects as a complete transformation of their business?

The top concerns remain security and compliance. However, the underlying concern is choosing the right technology and innovation partner.

What is the main reason banks decide to embark the digital journey?

Adopting the customer-centric approach and meeting and exceeding customer expectations is a constant struggle, especially for banks with legacy systems that are not aligned with digital strategies and do not support the further development of innovative digital banking solutions. In addition to providing seamless multichannel user experience and rapid development of new offerings, our clients are mainly trying to enhance their data analytics capabilities, reduce operating costs or automate core business processes.

Data analytics capabilities are at the very heart of customer-centric approach. How do Comtrade’s solutions support customer-centric strategies?

Comtrade Digital Services offers a suite of IT solutions and services for banks and financial service institutions that are built with an in-depth understanding of end-users’ wants and our client’s needs. Through our technology, we want to empower both. We strive toward building simple and insightful solutions that provide banks with actionable data. After all, customer centricity is all about building meaningful and sustainable long-term relationships through knowing and responding to customers’ wants and needs. Research shows that when customers perceive a company as being “right for them,” it correlates to long-term revenue growth. With this approach, banks can now empower their customers using the knowledge they already have to nudge them towards win-win decisions.

 

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Comtrade Digital Services officially launched Assisto chatbot in December 2016.

 

One of the solutions from your portfolio is the Assisto banking chatbot which is probably the best manifestation of customer-centric solutions. After a year and a half since you have first launched it, you have implemented it in many banks. What advice would you give to a bank that is thinking of extending its digital branch with chatbot solutions?

Do not wait. While chatbots may seem a nice-to-have addition at first, they are now becoming a crucial if not even necessary part of the digital branch. They seem to fit extremely well with younger, texting-first generation who are pushing for conversational banking.

How is conversational banking transforming the way banks interact with their customers?

Conversational banking is a response to customers’ demands and it encourages banks to give their brand a specific voice. Particularly with chatbots, banks should really think about who they are as a brand, what they stand for and who they are as an organization and then use chatbots to express that. For the first time, banks can be funny and trustworthy at the same time. And it is amazing how well users react to this human side of banks. They know they are talking to a robot,but still empathize with it. This is an era when it is safe for banks to be a bit more personal.

We ask Ceco to elaborate what does he means by personal. “Connect with each customer on a deeper, personal level,”he explains. The company believes conversational platforms are a great tool to connect with many users at once but with each user in a different personalized way.

Ceco adds: “Continuous developments in AI are making interactions even more human-like which resonates really well with the users and results in improved engagement.”But the end users come second on the company's list: “Understanding end users is, of course, crucial, but our main goal is to find ways on how to empower our clients through technology.”

The interview comes to end as Ceco rushes to another meeting: “I still meet and advise clients. For me, it is the best way to keep up with the market.” With this kind of approach in recent years, the company moved from being merely a technology provider to a strategic innovative partner.