The pandemic has accelerated the ecommerce evolution in Romania and banks that wanted to meet the needs and expectations of customers have been even more motivated to develop new technologies to support dynamic businesses. Viorel Vasile, Cards Unit Director at Alpha Bank Romania, talks about the evolution of card on delivery payment and about Alpha PhonePOS, the first banking application launched in the Romanian market which transforms an Android mobile device into a POS terminal.
By Anda Sebesi
How does Alpha Bank support businesses which imply delivery payments through the development of new technologies? In this regard what can you tell us about Alpha Phone POS?
The payment on delivery issue caught our attention some time before the pandemic set in our lives and influenced our consumption behavior with impact in the eCommerce sector. This was especially due to the consistent weight of cash on delivery, the preferred payment option for local consumers. Attempts to convert this field to digital payments have existed before, but without much success given the fact that these attempts addressed the problem through traditional POS terminals that involved manual handling of an additional device. At that time, we began to look for alternative and viable technologies that would facilitate payments for the dynamic businesses. Thus, given the mass adoption of contactless technology in Romania and the obvious trend of dematerialization of card payments by migrating to mobile devices, we focused our efforts to launch a SoftPOS app and we placed Romania on the map of the first 10 countries in Europe who have benefited from this innovative technology.
What is the impact of such services that Alpha Bank develops for its customers?
As expected, Alpha PhonePOS has changed the way payments on delivery are viewed. By installing the payment application on a device already present at the level of a courier, together with an integration at the level of applications that simplifies the experience in use, the card payments on delivery have started to become as they should be, simple and efficient. Alpha PhonePOS has also created new opportunities for a whole range of liberal professions in many other fields, that have often surprised us with their enthusiasm of embracing this new payment technology. Lawyers, notaries, healthcare services, handcrafters, taxi drivers, all requested to use the new payment service. Also, in the public transportation, the solution ensures card-assisted payments on the Otopeni Airport- Bucharest North Train Station (Gara de Nord) line and on several other lines in the country.
What is Alpha Bank’s strategy in increasing the trustworthiness of its customers in its payment solutions developed both in online and offline?
If on the offline channel we will continue to focus on extending the Alpha PhonePOS solution and on kiosk &unattended payment integrations, as regards the online channel, we have implemented, for the first time in Europe, an Instant Refund solution meant to increase the level of trust of those who do online shopping through a safe, simple and fast money back process (maximum 30 minutes versus traditional return which can take up to 14 days). In addition to these enterprise solutions, at the same time, for the cards issued by Alpha Bank we have provided a biometric transaction authentication application (Alpha Pay Online) and we constantly monitor the improvement of anti-fraud rules in a dynamic approach, simultaneously with promoting consumer education campaigns to perform payments in a secure context.
How do you see the future of online payment solutions in Romania?
As payment infrastructure providers, we need to focus on providing simple and secure payment experiences. In the future, I rely on an increased focus on the analysis and use of data to improve the customer payment experience by extending card-on-file or token-use solutions, but also with the aim of preventing the financial fraud. Another visible trend that we believe will be accentuated is the growth of online shopping made from mobile devices and especially from mobile applications, which creates the opportunity to personalize shopping through targeted campaigns and methods of payment. And we are committed to provide the necessary payment infrastructure for these integrations. At the same time, I believe that in the near future we will be able to see new payment methods derived from the adoption of open-banking, if they will manage to satisfy the experience and financial requirements of the market.