Comtrade’s Haris Ceco: ‘Banks have something most fintechs lack’

3 Dec 2018

Haris Ceco, vice-president and general manager of fintech at Comtrade Digital Services. Image: Comtrade

By embracing open banking, traditional banks can make use of solid income streams to be digital leaders. But only if they want to, says Comtrade’s fintech leader Haris Ceco.

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Haris Ceco currently holds the position of vice-president and general manager of fintech at Comtrade Digital Services. He has been active in the field of IT solutions development and implementation since 1997 when he graduated from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sarajevo.

Ceco has also gained in-depth knowledge of the IT industry through various roles that he held during his career, including in test engineering, software engineering, information systems architecture and project management.

‘Open banking presents the opportunity for banks to rethink and transform their roles and business models’

In 2004, he took on the position of a programme leader for development and implementation of IT solutions in the financial sector. Following that, in 2008, he became director of Comtrade in Sarajevo, where he was responsible for further developing, expanding and strengthening the company’s brand.

Today, Ceco successfully leads the Comtrade fintech digital team, the business unit best known for its unique mixture of domain knowledge, experience and innovative technology.

What are the prevailing tech trends shaping the fintech revolution?

The essence of the fintech revolution comes down to embracing the customer- and regulator-centric approach. While those two approaches rely heavily on technology, we should take into account the human side of digital transformation. Trends like automation, customer intelligence, newly emerging technologies and increased legislation may be the driving forces of the fintech revolution, but it’s the shift in perspective towards an individual’s experience and their needs that will truly reshape it and make it sustainable.

What kind of work has Comtrade’s fintech unit done in facilitating fintech advancements?

As a fintech company that provides solutions and services for businesses, we strive towards building long-term, win-win partnerships where we take on the role of innovation partner for rapid digitalisation in the financial industry.

With the highest regulations and the latest trends in mind, we see our digital banking solutions, services and products as a bridge between our clients and their customers or market. We use our domain knowledge and extensive experience to help them transform externally, as well as internally, enabling them to adopt an agile way of working.

It’s about finding the right solution for every client, be that a chatbot that can communicate with their younger customers through instant messaging, or a platform that allows people to facilitate transfers, check balances and locate branches with a few clicks of a button.

How are banks in Europe taking to open banking following PSD2?

Open banking presents the opportunity for banks to rethink and transform their roles and business models. As with any other type of disruption, open banking can be seen as a threat to the industry.

However, it can also be viewed as an opportunity to quickly respond to customer expectations with new and relevant products and services, which can be brought to market faster. This approach can also reduce the costs and risks associated with the development and launch phases of a new offering. Acting swiftly can therefore give companies a head start, but not many banks are taking advantage.

Are traditional banks under pressure from nimble young fintech start-ups, or can they use fintech start-ups to their advantage?

Like Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” Banks reluctant to change will continue to feel the pressure until they are willing to take the digital leap and be inclined to use, work alongside and learn from fintechs. Most probably, these are the banks that have the biggest market shares.

While it is hard for banks to keep up with change in the industry and constant innovation, they have something that most fintechs lack – that is, a number of income streams and the trust of their customers.

What does the future of banking look like for the average customer?

The future of banking will adapt to the demands and needs of extremely tech-savvy customers, and will most likely be mobile, personalised and empowering – empowering in the sense of delivering flawless customer experience and high-quality advice.

Successful banks will take on the role of digital leader and financial consultant, enabling their customers to increase the value of their assets and achieve their financial goals.

The next generation to actively enter the market has completely different expectations in terms of communicating with the outside world, and financial institutions will be no exception. As next-generation digital natives, this generation is a perfect match and should be the main focus of digitally superior financial institutions.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years