Bernardo Sanchez Incera
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
"A state of mind that
pushes us to
our pioneering spirit!"
Bernardo Sanchez Incera
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
closer relations with our clients
What does the digital revolution change in the relationship between the bank and its clients?
In our business, like in all other parts of society, consumers want mobility, realtime answers, greater security and more
personalised advice. Digital technology makes it possible to better understand these needs and respond to them.
Despite appearances, digital technology is “enhancing” the relations we have with our clients. It is bringing
us closer together and intensifying the relationship. In 2016, digital technology became the primary means
by which our clients contacted us, with over 900 million digital contacts made. From our retail banking branches
to social media, we are adapting to the fact that clients can contact us when and how they want by personalising
this contact. We’re working on reinventing and constantly building closer relationships with our clients by
combining the best of digital technology with the human touch.
For simple everyday operations, our clients want us to give them greater autonomy. We are expanding our range of services to respond to this demand. Using our app, you can now directly adjust the limit of your bank card at any time. A system of personalised alerts allows you to stay informed of future transactions and events. You manage your accounts with complete autonomy and the results are near-instantaneous. Thanks to the account aggregator offered by Societe Generale and Crédit du Nord, you can now view all your accounts on a single screen. In addition, you can open a savings account or take out an insurance policy in a fully paperless and secure format. Digital technology is making banking simpler and more efficient. Boursorama, a 100% online bank, has taken full advantage of this shift, achieving very strong customer growth in 2016. It reached one million clients in early 2017, and the target is to pass the two million mark by 2020.
Given this context, what will the retail banking branch of tomorrow look like?
We are confident that bank branches will retain an essential role, but we’re also making profound changes to
ensure that they, too, adapt to new client behaviour. Every year, we renovate 10% of our branches to ensure
that they evolve at the same pace as our clients’ expectations. By 2020, 550 additional branches will be equipped
with self-service areas with personalised features adapted to client needs, enabling clients to conduct day-to-day transactions at their own discretion, even when the branch is closed. At the same time, we’re also raising
the level of expertise of our staff. Clients may not visit our branches as often, but when they do come in,
it’s usually during a key moment in their lives, such as starting a career, creating a business or buying a
home. They therefore want expert advice. At a time when all ordinary interactions with the bank take place
through digital technology, we must simultaneously offer the best client experience on our mobile apps and
transform our branches into centres of expertise providing clients with the level of advice they need. By 2020,
we will have invested €1.5 billion in digital and information technology as well as €150 million in training
to support our teams with the changes in their roles.
This individual relationship with clients, could it serve as a starting point for new services?
Absolutely. That’s another area where digital technology can help us. For example, thanks to data marketing, we’re able to
gain an even deeper understanding of our clients, meaning we can contact them regarding appropriate topics
and offer personalised products and services at the right moment. At the same time as we create these new services,
we must guarantee the security of these transactions, which is the absolute bedrock of the banking relationship.
In this regard, we offered our clients a truly unique innovation this year in the form of cards with dynamic
security codes. This was a first in France.
On a broader level, by entrusting us with their money, our clients have recognised us as a trusted partner. We have a special relationship with them and so it makes sense for us to offer them an expanded range of services that cover other aspects of their day-to-day lives or careers, teaming up with partners when the opportunity is right. We’re also thinking about the new kinds of services that will emerge from the transition from an economy based on ownership to one based on use. For example, in the automobile sector, our specialised subsidiary ALD is becoming a mobility solutions operator in a market that will increasingly be driven by shared transport. Another example is our partnership with the startup Base 10, which has developed a co-working application. We have made Societe Generale’s banking branches in the southwest of France accessible to all, clients and non-clients alike. So if you’re travelling in Bordeaux or Limoges, you can reserve your co-working space with a few clicks and you’ll feel right at home there. In summary, in a world where social and societal behaviours are undergoing profound transformation, we too are rethinking how we work and interact with our clients. These changes can also be seen internationally of course. In Africa, for example, the development of mobile technology is radically altering the way we offer access to banking services.
How do you constantly reinvent the banking experience of your clients?
The common driver is collaboration. Collaboration with clients, first and foremost, such as when we include them in the design of new versions of our mobile apps, and in the future when we’ll work with them to create a new ecosystem of services based on their personal needs. There’s also collaboration inside the bank, as innovating to serve our clients better is a collective process. Innovation involves technology of course, and we have many talented individuals within our organisation who can develop the services that our clients need. However, the challenge is much wider: we need to foster a state of mind that pushes us to constantly explore, experiment and nurture our pioneering spirit!
Chief Executive Officer of NASSE DEMECO GROUP
Co-Founder of TAGPAY
Co-Founder of JAM
We reinvented our business
through digital technology
Even in supposedly conservative sectors, digital technology has the potential to radically change the services offered to customers and the model of development used by businesses. One such example is Demeco, leader of the removals sector in France, which launched the Emoovz platform, an online marketplace open to all players in the industry.
Digital technology represents a new world and a new economy waiting to be built. Companies that fail to make the
transition ultimately risk disappearing or becoming totally dependent on web-based pure players. At Demeco, we
decided to take the initiative to avoid running this risk. For a long time, offering removal services online was
not considered a strategic priority in our industry, with the focus remaining on having the resources, the workforce
and the operations themselves. However, then we saw the emergence of web players who, without any equipment or
removal staff, managed to capture a significant share of the market by focusing on marketing while subcontracting
the actual execution of their contracts. As the leader in our sector, we realised we needed to anticipate the disruption
caused by digital technology to the relationship we have with our cus tomers and commit ourselves to this transformation
before anyone else. We started by looking at best practices in other sectors such as hospitality and travel, which
were already highly developed in this area. We hired a young digital director from the web community who helped
us think differently. He convinced us to go with the option that presented the largest departure from conventional
practices in the sector: creating a marketplace. That’s how the Emoovz site came to be. Customers visiting the
site will, of course, see our services, supported by the strength of our network. However, they also find the services
of any other company that meets their needs. They can compare prices in complete transparency, consult the ratings
given to removal companies and book directly online. The system also allows removal companies to adjust their daily
In short, we reinvented our business by focusing on the customer and placing them at the heart of the operation. Even now, the team that runs Emoovz.com is very focused on user feedback to continuously improve the customer experience of the website. Based on the same principle, we are studying the development of a dedicated online service for corporate and institutional customers, who account for nearly half of our business. Digital tools are also opening up new oppor tunities for increasing productivity in our sector as a whole. For example, by combining Emoovz with the planning software designed for our businesses (Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP), we can help other removal companies optimise the loading of their vehicles and notably reduce empty return journeys. Our whole sector is now entering a new era with digital technology.
Mobile technology is
the future of
banking in Africa
FinTech firm TagPay was an early believer in the rise of mobile banking in Africa. Together with Societe Generale, a longstanding client and partner, they developed an open and adaptable platform that made banking services accessible to populations excluded from conventional networks.
After working in the e-banking world, I founded TagPay about 10 years ago with a partner from the telecommunications industry. We had the intuition, well before the proliferation of smartphones, that mobile telephony would be a groundbreaking technology capable of transforming the banking world. Starting from a very technological angle that initially focused on meeting the essential security needs of making a transaction, we gradually developed a comprehensive system for digital mobile banking. Today, TagPay employs around 20 people and provides its banking sector clients with a virtual platform using cloud technology to offer a wide range of services, from money transfers to contactless payments and bill payments. Societe Generale was our first major client, and recently became a partner by acquiring a stake in TagPay. By being one of the first to have confidence in our technology, Societe Generale brought us essential credibility during our early growth. For a structure such as ours to exist and grow, it needs to be supported by established players that have the foresight, the energy and the openness to understand and embrace our innovations. Our partnership with Societe Generale demonstrated that our idea could meet the performance requirements of such a large group. It was a decisive moment for us.
Africa: a giant innovation laboratory
Our collaboration with Societe Generale is primarily linked to Africa, which is a giant innovation laboratory for digital mobile banking. Africa was where the TagPay adventure took off. The vast majority of the continent’s population has a mobile phone, but no bank account. We were able to bypass the established technology of countries already well served by banks and offer direct access to the bank of the future, based on state-of-the-art technology that operates in real time, is simple to use and is completely secure. Societe Generale, which has a large presence on the African continent, perfectly understood this fundamental change. We joined them with the deployment of the first mobile banking services offered by their Manko subsidiary in Senegal, and are supporting them today with the launch of YUP, which marks a new stage in their Pan-African digital banking strategy. Mobile technology offers the opportunity to reach huge numbers of people who, until now, had been excluded from conventional banking networks.
Technology gives way to services
Yesterday’s world, with its cumbersome and complex systems, was dominated by infrastructure and processes. In the open world of mobile technology, where considerably less cost and time is needed to develop systems, technology is giving way to the core of the banking business, namely services. The tool that we’re developing for and with the bank is totally adaptable. Based on a single platform, teams will be able to develop new features in the future that will generate new sources of revenue and new business models. With this open architecture, it is essential to be able to interact with local ecosystems. That is what Societe Generale is currently doing in Africa by teaming up with the network of retailers who will distribute their mobile banking services. Basically, it’s not the bank which is adapting to technology, but the opposite, and the opportunities are immense.
Societe Generale was open-minded enough to accept a solution that didn’t originate internally, with all of the effort this implied in terms of integrating the solution with the highly structured and regulated framework of a major bank. They agreed to let go of some established ways of doing things. As for us, they helped us improve security by bringing us up their standards. Today, we all benefit from our mutual efforts, helping us to understand and move forward with the same goal. We made it through the most difficult part, which was the decision-making phase. We’re currently in the deployment phase, and we now understand how to innovate together.
THE STARTUP MAKING
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LIVES
Jam is a chatbot, a small intelligent "robot" that young
people talk with on Messenger — Facebook’s instant
messaging app — to help them find new ideas for their
free time, according to their preferences. The goal
is to guide them with whatever makes them happy.
Marjolaine Grondin, co-founder Jam: "For me, entrepreneurial spirit is about choosing freedom, creativity and the drive to excel and create something new. People often talk about entrepreneurs, but less frequently about the teams behind them. However, an entrepreneur isn’t an expert but rather a conductor, as in an orchestra, and a conductor can only work if they have an orchestra that plays!". Two years after it was launched, the chatbot now has more than 100,000 users. The goal for Marjolaine and her team is to go as deep as possible in terms of the subjects that Jam processes — the number of users and the number of regions covered — and so make it the best youth lifestyle product around. "For me, the role of a bank when you’re an entrepreneur is to understand that you have potential and to be able to respond in an agile manner".
Societe Generale teamed up with Jam to better understand Millennials. Through the chatbot, the Bank provides answers and advice on issues that matter, such as how to finance their studies and personal plans, the payment solutions best suited to their needs or how to prepare for a voyage abroad, among others.
In the Internet age and with the wider development of digital channels, Societe Generale has a clear mission: to be a trusted banking partner at the cutting edge of innovation for banking security and fully in touch with the latest usages and concerns of its increasingly independent, mobile and connected clients.
Societe Generale is the first bank in France and one of the first in the world to offer a card with a dynamic visual security code to its individual customers. In just over 6 months, 150,000 clients are already using the card.
"Cybercrime keeps evolving and so we too have to innovate, both in terms of both protection and our ability to respond. We need to invest in artificial intelligence, and therefore machine learning, in order to react even faster and detect new kinds of fraud".
Vincent Bouëtel, Head of IT Security for Retail Banking in France.
To offer its customers’ completely secure online and mobile transactions, Komerční Banka, Societe Generale's Czech subsidiary, has begun offering the Trusteer Rapport security solution. The solution has proven its ability to neutralise threats: the number of logins from infected computers has fallen by approximately 95%.
Keeping pace with the changing digital habits of consumers, Societe Generale is increasing the number of new web and mobile services offering greater independence, ease of use and access to advice.
Societe Generale has more and more remote banking services offering high real value, including a pioneering app with regular updates including, in 2016, additional personalised notifications and an account aggregator. Recognised as the leading mobile bank, Societe Generale is the only French brand to have received a Twitter Award, given for its response time of under 30 minutes on the @SG_etvous Twitter account.
Among the tools providing our clients with greater convenience, fast and secure payment methods play an increasingly important role. Eurobank, the Group’s subsidiary in Poland, is offering its customers a payment solution via their smartphones. In France, the simple-to-use contactless Paylib service offers a similar solution.
In February 2017, Societe Generale and the French IT college EPITA co-organised the Open Source Day, a day dedicated to open source software development for 600 students. Alain Benoist, Managing Director of Societe Generale’s Business Solution Centre, said: "For us, interoperability is absolutely vital if we want to retain a significant capacity for innovation and follow developments in the race for innovation, in which, today, every stakeholder is involved."
Present on the continent for over a century, Societe Generale combines extensive local knowledge with solid experience providing support to corporate and individual customers. Drawing on its historic roots and geographic coverage, the Bank has set up a forum for the people who are shaping today's dynamic, creative and innovative Africa.
This "laboratory of ideas" runs as an incubator for the innovative initiatives of our African subsidiaries and local startup. It is currently implementing three projects developed during a hackathon: a branch queue management app in Ghana, a digital terminal for pre-arranging cash transactions in Senegal and a customer support system using tablets at branches in Burkina Faso.
After a trip to Senegal and Ivory Coast, Frédéric Oudéa shared his thoughts on the issues and challenges Africa represents:
"Europe needs to feel concerned and take a greater interest in the sustainable development of the African continent."
In sync with Africa’s entrepreneurial drive, its low banking penetration and its strong growth in mobile equipment, Societe Generale launched YUP, a digital wallet that offers a comprehensive range of banking-related services, from withdrawals, deposits and money transfers to bill payment, phone credit purchases and more.