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So, I shall begin with the end, because of the glued team, accepting and evolving in our roles and responsibilities, restlessly learning and developing our communication skills, understanding the need to lend your leader ear to your team and collaborate with them and all other internal and external stakeholders, got us here, with a strong, sustainable position and voice in the card payments market.
One day in the life of a card manager, how does it look like?
There is no day like the other and I am, indeed, a lucky man because my business life is quite intense: meetings with customers and service providers, internal conferences, participation in various projects, one to one discussions with teammates. All this in a structured framework, but in different doses and ingredients every day.

What about your life in general? If you were a book, what title would you have?
Hit Refresh. In fact, this is the title of a real book, written by the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, a very inspiring book about individual change and the technology that impacts all of our lives.

Why did you choose this path? Cards? The good and the bad of this job?
After 12 years in Alpha Bank Romania I still feel like on the first day, from the first hour of the morning I feel the challenge of new projects and the importance of a close relationship with customers, the way they relate to the products and services offered, what we can learn from them about their needs. It helps when planning new projects, even if we are on a beaten path, we dare to discover the new in the old, innovate, push forward, and use new available tools offered by technology.

All this time, my main motivation was that feeling that I bring my contribution, that I achieve things that can make a difference in the environment in which I carry out my activity.
If we act today, tomorrow shall be different.

Did the pandemic have any influence on the digital transformation initiatives?
The lock-down made a significant shift for consumer’s appetite to digital and online channels and, therefore also pushed the fast forward button in implementing our digital initiatives. All this period we were close to our customers’ needs, the same way they are there for us. Though their appetite for remote transactions was showing a huge change at the end of Q1, digital commerce had significant growth rates during the full lock-down period and after (over 80% in online). In addition, also the face-to-face transactions offered good recovery signs in May and especially in June, once the economy started to open.

Your job in one sentence?
Always look beyond what meets the eye, responsibly, and apply sustainable innovation in everything you do.

Leader or manager?
I see myself neither a leader, nor a manager; first of all, I prefer to be perceived as a good colleague. I have often been put in a position to coordinate teams with much more experience than mine and the most important aspect was to connect with each of these people in an honest manner, to establish a relationship based on mutual trust. In principle, I focus on the positive aspects of people and try to build a close relationship with each person. It takes a lot of time and effort, small and constant steps.

Coming back to digital, the very subject of these days… Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation: What’s the Difference?
Basically, Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation are all means in order to adapt to the accelerated pace of change of the society, to the digital world that puts its mark on both consumer behavior and companies, being the engine of innovation. However, while Digitization refers to the transformation of an existing manual/ paper based information (non-digital/analog) into an into a digital format, which produces process and workflows automation, in order to streamline the result, Digitalization covers a wider area of business. Digitalization represents the change, and not just at the system of record level, but at the business operations and models level, to maximize the revenue and to improve processes. Digital Transformation needs both Digitization and Digitalization, meaning the global change produced within the company’s strategy (covering all business levels) by identifying and using new ways for the company to respond and manage change effectively.

How do you see the transformation from transactional at the counter to Self Service POS in ABR case? How was your experience?
We have developed the self-service payment technology in Alpha Bank Romania two years ago and it was from the start a growth engine for our acquiring business. Depending on the sector in which it is utilized, the self-service equipment is very efficient. Less human staff required to serve customers, reduced waiting times for customers, improved customer experience by giving them control are just some of the advantages of the implementation of a self-service order &payment system. ABR was one of the pioneers in the local market introducing the first kiosk payment at KFC, which is now widely used at even and replicated in other use cases. Unattended technology can be very capable when is us used in simple activities where the customers have no requirement for consultancy or support.

How did the clients perceive this?
From a customer perspective is a significant improvement in terms of shopping experience. They are given in control of the process; they can select the products or services and they perform the payments without handling the card to a cashier. Interesting is also the merchant perspective: analyzing the transaction kiosk vs counter in a fast food restaurant we even found out that that tickets are higher at self-serve kiosks than at the counters.

What other operations are planned to be moved to SS ATM?
Currently we offer at our ATM 24/7 banking the deposit operation in 3 currencies (RON, EUR and USD) in the own account and in other account. At the same time, we are developing the credit card payment functionality and we are aiming to also activate foreign exchange, utility payments, prepaid top-up, and money transfer in the near future.

What can you tell us more about the latest available card facilities you implemented? The Alpha PhonePos, for example or Alpha Pay Online?
We are committed to consolidate our position in the sector of payments, but also in line with the global trend, to respond to the existing high demand for digital payments solutions.
The Bank’s innovations included new local launches. such as the partnership with Symphopay Fintech for the implementation of a “POS sharing” solution accessible at kiosks in eMAG showrooms, the successful implementation of the New Instant Money Back solution (1st in Europe) on the online platforms eMag and Fashion Days, the certification of the new POS terminals “Verifone Engage” in partnership with Printec Romania, the cards enrollment in multiple wallets (Apple Pay, Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay), in parallel with the expansion of self-service banking technology by activating the cash deposit option at the new ATMs of Alpha Bank Romania.
Recently, we have announced also the launch of two new applications: Alpha PhonePOS – an application that turns a mobile phone into a contactless POS and Alpha Pay Online – the new app for more secure and intelligent payments on the Internet using the biometric authentication.
A remarkable project in the local market is also the instant payment project and Alpha Bank Romania completed the certification for both MasterCard Money Send and VISA Direct programs, and launched several use cases, very appreciated in the market.



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