What is the Polish market marching towards?

Poland is a market, similar to Turkey and Scandinavia, which many look towards to see what is the next big thing in banking and payments.

Krakow-based Comarch, founded in 1993, is a software company that serves a myriad of sectors. These include telecommunications, trade and services, IT infrastructure, public administration, manufacturing, healthcare, and SMEs. However, some of its most interesting work is in finance and banking.

Comarch’s financial services sector specialises in creating and developing software and IT systems for major financial institutions operating on banking. Its portfolio currently includes UniCredit, BNP Paribas, ING, Raiffeisen, Allianz, Societe Generale and more. Overall, 24,000 bank employees use Comarch software every day.

According to Comarch, the ‘undisputed leader’ in sales for the last year is its Comarch Internet Banking, which is in great demand in Europe. A transactional platform designed to handle large volumes of data; it processes 28 million transactions monthly.

Other tools include Comarch CRM & Loyalty for banking, a set of products to aid building and maintaining customer relationships, and Comarch Smart Finance, a retail banking solution that consolidates internet and mobile banking, as well as personal finance management. With the latter, the bank can analyse the financial behaviour of its customers and offer products adjusted to their specific needs and expectations.

With a particular focus on global scale operations, the financial services arm of Comarch places its interest in countries with the most developed or rapidly developing financial markets. A few examples are Belgium, Turkey, the US, and Singapore.

Last year, the sales revenue of the financial services arm amounted to €33m ($35.9m), around 13.4% of Comarch’s entire revenue, and is third in financial performance among all of the sectors that Comarch covers.

Rising prospects
Andrzej Przewiezlikowski, vice president of Comarch, is confident that things can only get better.

At its conference, in association with Efma, in Krakow, The Retail and Corporate Finance Excellence Summit, he said: “Profits reached €23m last year. We can’t officially comment about results this year, but the first three quarters were pretty decent if you look at the numbers compared to the previous years.

“We have a presence in 46 subsidiaries in 24 countries across the world. The important thing is that these markets grow, so it is not pure luck that drives us. It’s not something that we did one time and we’re happy about that. It’s something that we’ve been doing constantly for the last ten years; we’re growing on a year-to-year basis.

“That basically means that we are able to provide a service and will not disappear a few years from now because we have sufficient business to support us, even if we have something like a financial crisis.”

Embracing the new
During the conference, Jakub Grzechnik, head of mobile and internet banking at PKO BP, presented on the topic of digital product development to support banking propositions. The main point was that new products needed to be built with digital first in mind.

He said: “Young and affluent customers want to be self-service customers…but legacy customers may have habits that are not necessarily digital.”

Przewiezlikowski, when speaking to RBI, added: “11% of our revenue goes to research and development (R&D); I call it, a promise of future excellence. We are not a company without a long term view, we are actually a company that does have products, that does invest in those products and that does support and improve those products.”

Comarch prides itself on its reputation and ‘expertise’, particularly when it comes to working within companies’ existing legacy systems. As a problem throughout a large chunk of the financial sector, this is crucial. With large costs in play, whether that be maintaining existing systems or replacing them, Comarch works within legacy limitations.

Przewiezlikowski said: “There are many companies out there with legacy solutions and we have changed the way that we work in our software design package. Rather than developing everything from scratch, we first of all design the customer experience. This basically leads us to solutions which are more product-oriented with a very good customer experience and good design.

“This ethos makes sure that we’re actually taking responsibility for the whole implementation of the product.”

He concluded: “The trouble with the banks is that if you look at the best that the banks have in their IT systems, the majority of that comes from legacy programmes, but if they do, let’s say, new internet banking, they aren’t necessarily changing.

“They are putting another layer of complexity that comes with their system. The thing is that if they do it this way, they have much more ability in changing the way they interact with customers because they don’t need to change a whole core system in order to have a banking product. That does save a lot of money.”