At our recent Raisin Banking Conference in Berlin, we had a chance to chat with our partners at CiviBank and zoom in to take a closer look at one aspect of cooperation. Founded in 1886 in northern Italy’s UNESCO heritage site Cividale del Friuli as Banca di Cividale, CiviBank currently has eight offers, from one- to ten-year term deposits with rates of up to 2%, available on our German platform WeltSparen.
In our conversation with CiviBank’s Virtual Branch Operations Manager Angela Furlan and Project Manager Ella Jeretienko we focused on the day-to-day work that makes our relationship function well. They also told us about the Italian banking sector’s evolving stance on fintech.
CiviBank was the very first Italian bank to go entirely online in the process of onboarding customers with Raisin, making them a trailblazer in a country where it’s still common to be required to sign stacks of documents and bring them to the bank or send them in by post. CiviBank’s decision to move online made them an especially exciting Italian partner for us at Raisin. As our Banking Relationship Manager Tilen Iskra (above) explained, the cooperation was established in at least three languages (including, coincidentally, his native Slovenian), and yet the understanding between Raisin and CiviBank has been especially strong.
CiviBank is a trailblazer — the first Italian bank to go entirely online in onboarding customers with us.
On the one hand there are case-by-case issues, customer-related questions, and technical issues that get resolved day by day, week to week, by our partner bank operations. On the other, the teams coordinate on a management level to enact rate changes, introduce new savings products or product changes, not to mention working through the initial onboarding process together.
As always, once up and running, everyone’s ideal is not to have to be in contact: there’s no better indicator that everything is functioning smoothly! However when there is a need, we’re available and able to meet it as quickly as possible, which means having the technical know-how but also fundamentally good communication skills — from the right language to shared goals.
When the products are online and all of CiviBank’s questions are answered, there remains the all-important issue of customer service. Providing the absolute best customer service is an essential part of the partnership from our side. So when, for instance, German savers need help with their Italian account we’re there to interface, with our highly trained native-speaker customer service agents.
The back-office and reporting platform is friendly and very easy to use, and the fact that both CiviBank and Raisin staff are multicultural and multilingual helps too.
A partnership like ours between a bank and a fintech serves a larger purpose — in our case, allowing German savers to access CiviBank’s term deposits — but as we’ve described, it’s built on a huge number of smaller interactions between their staff in Italy and ours in Berlin. That’s why we wanted to ask:
What is the regular contact with Raisin like?
From our perspective, working with Raisin is both technically and operationally very efficient. We always get prompt feedback and quick responses to any requests that we make. The back-office and reporting platform is friendly and very easy to use, and the fact that both CiviBank and Raisin staff are multicultural and multilingual helps too.
What has changed for you since you started on the Raisin platform?
When we first started with Raisin we only had few products — just five — but now we’ve expanded and offer, for instance, seven-, eight-, and ten-year term deposits. The fact that German customers are so interested is important: that’s why we’ve extended the range of products and investment possibilities, sometimes with special offers for a limited period. At the moment we’re also looking at Holland and Spain, thus expanding beyond the German market.
Banks have realized that there are many synergies, with lots of possibilities to build win-win partnerships.
What are attitudes like in Italian banking, towards cooperation with fintechs?
In Italy the debate about banking and fintech is a focal point. A number of banks created the Fintech District in Milan, and in addition, most dynamic banks, like us at CiviBank, have a dedicated business function for fintech partnerships. Whereas at the outset fintechs seemed to present a threat to the traditional banking sector, nowadays banks have realized that there are many synergies between the two with lots of possibilities to build win-win partnerships.
A big thank you to Ella Jeretienko and Angela Furlan for joining us at the conference in Berlin and taking the time to share their perspective on our partnership. We’re looking forward to many more years of working together to deliver outstanding savings products to customers in Germany and across Europe.