The plastic card business in Armenia is going forward at a steady gait. Trying to attract more clients, banks offer ‘tempting’ terms, making accent on affordable tariffs. At the same time, the culture of using plastic cards is being developed. Ameriabank’s Branches Coordination Manager Hrachya Malkhasyan comments to PanARMENIAN.Net on how to withstand competition and satisfy the clients’ needs.
Presently, all commercial banks in Armenia offer various types of plastic cards. How do you meet the competition in this market?
The competition in this field is not just tough. I can even say that “price wars” are going on. Ameriabank follows its course, trying to avoid these wars as ineffective way of attracting clients. We eye the business through the prism of each client’s needs and therefore build communication channels and product line. First, we value the quickness and quality of the service, as well as profitable lending conditions. We also try to develop an infrastructure, specifically by increasing the number of ATMs and POS-terminals. Here, a unique role is given to the bank's image and the brand, which helps attract clients without being dragged into the so-called price struggle. Special attention is paid to bolstering security to rule out any possibility of leaks, a condition highly appreciated by the clients.
I would like to emphasize that Ameriabank highlights the quality, starting with the presentation of the application and through the entire service process. Besides, our card holders are given the opportunity to profit by up to 50% discounts in more than 250 sales outlets.
What does Ameriabank do to plastic more available for the population?
By the number of ATMs and POS-Terminals, Ameriabank is among the leaders in Armenia's banking system. Currently, we have 90 ATMs, of which 68 are in Yerevan and the others are installed in provinces, mostly in the main tourist zones: Dilijan, Tatev, Tsaghkadzor, etc. In 2013, we are planning to increase the number of ATMs by 15. As to POS-terminals, we intend to improve their efficiency through monitoring and continuing work with the clients. Over 600 POS-Terminals are now functioning, most of them in Yerevan. 200 more will be installed till the end of the year.
Development of branches also contributes to availability of the bank’s services. We have 5 branches in Yerevan, 3 in provinces and 1 in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh.
I would like to note that Ameriabank is the first Armenian bank, whose application is presented at the Apple Store. This innovation is a good opportunity for the local residents and tourists to familiarize themselves with the news, currency exchange rates, services, location of the branches and ATMs. Interactive map is also provided.
With cashless payments gaining popularity in Armenia, what results did the bank achieve for plastic card transactions in the 1st halfyear?
Compared to the early 2013, the bank posted 8% growth for cards released to total 42000 items (up from 39000.) This year, we’re planning to provide 50% growth as a reflection of our expectations from a new approach to the card servicing. Though not a leader for a number of cards issued, Ameriabank is one of the most effective banks for transaction activity per card. The fact proves the loyalty of our cardholders and effectiveness of the business. Also, we don’t have a margin in servicing of pension cards as opposed to other players in the sector.
What has the bank to offer in the sector of salary projects?
Development of standards to facilitate offers for salary projects is being finalized, with the following criteria considered: the number of employees in the organization, average salary, the company turnover, client loyalty. Based on the criteria above, companies will be offered specific terms for servicing of cards, overdrafts, consumer credits, internet banking, etc. Large-scale works to boost effectiveness of salary projects are in progress, with Ameriabank, initially developed as a corporate bank, having major potential in the sector to be fully implemented by the yearend.
Do you plan developing e-commerce?
We’re currently expecting changes in ArCa payment system, with serious preparations to provide internet acquiring services practically finalized. We intend to enter the e-commerce market following a VISA international system-provided certification for ArCa. We believe we have enough potential to win a major share in the market.
What new projects and services does the bank plan to offer to its card holders?
We have cardinally changed our approach to provision and servicing of cards. While before we only offered single-type cards, we’re now providing debit and credit ones, with competitive interest rates.
We also lowered the servicing fee for credit and debit cards, with ATM cashing fee also decreased. For debit cards, we offer credit lines (overdrafts.)
In mid-term perspective, we’re planning to develop our own loyalty programs, with a number of incentives for use of the bank services and promotion of long-term cooperation.