Vaidas Zagunis, member of the management board at SEB Lithuania and its head of retail banking, talks with Global Finance about the Swedish bank’s deployment of digital products to support its universal banking strategy.
Global Finance: SEB is a universal bank in your headquarters country, Sweden, and in the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. What was the original impetus for the strategy?
Vaidas Zagunis: Universal banking services form a part of our strategy, Vision 2025, which defines the strategic priorities for the entire SEB Group. We aim to be the leading Nordic bank for corporations and institutions and the top universal bank in Sweden and the Baltic countries. Our initial strategic ambition in the Baltic states was to become the home bank with a full-service offering for private individuals, corporate customers and financial institutions. Focus on a wide range of financial services helped us grow into the largest commercial bank in Lithuania.
GF: SEB won for corporate and consumer digital services in all three Baltic countries. How does SEB develop and refine digital strategy at the country level?
Zagunis: Customer acceptance of technology-based innovations is relatively high in the Baltic states, e.g., up to 99% of daily banking operations by customers of SEB Lithuania are already conducted in self-service mode. Digital banking development decisions in the Baltic states are made at the Baltic level, and usually these initiatives in each of the three countries are tailored and implemented simultaneously. Thus, we are able to reduce our digital banking products’ time-to-market and to optimize financial and human resources we allocate for it.
GF: What are some of your latest digital innovations in the Baltic states, and what’s coming?
Zagunis: Up to now, we have successfully implemented a number of digital (remote) banking initiatives in the Baltic states. Just to name a few: We have launched a new version of the SEB Lithuania Mobile Banking app, and introduced digital identification tool Smart-ID app and Remote Advisory Service, a real-time video financial consultation. Consumer loans became available online; upon submitting an online application, it takes our customer on average five minutes to receive a notification whether the loan decision is positive or more data is needed. We have also offered innovations to our corporate customers; they can already sign factoring and lease agreements online with a mobile e-signature.
One of the recent initiatives that we are implementing right know in Lithuania is that we have teamed up with a local fintech company to launch a new app that aims to encompass customer loyalty and rewards programs offered by various merchants and service providers. In the nearest future, we will definitely carry on with development of the mobile banking app, which has already become a strategic channel for us. We will also continue to implement our long-term ambition to make all of our products available online, and will be introducing a rapid-process-digitization approach into our internal processes.