Launched in 2013, Hello Bank! It is the 100% digital banking brand of BNP Paribas. Bertrand Sezo, its director, explains how his offer cleverly combines online expertise and human contact to offer the perfect banking relationship.
Where are you from ? How did you come to take over the management of Hello Bank?
Bertrand Siso: I run Hello bank! Since October 2022, I was previously Director of Communications at BNP Paribas for 10 years. One of the reputational issues relates to supporting the bank’s digital transformation. Prior to that, I was managing communications for consumer credit company Cetelem, a digital financial service from the early 2000s and its embodiment for more than 20 years of the “green man” everyone knows.
My experience is related to digital, customer knowledge and marketing. Then BNP Paribas gave me new responsibilities that naturally lead to discovering new experiences.
I strive to bring a new look to bring Welcome bank!, with the whole team, towards a new cycle of development. I am quickly integrating into this new profession of a digital banker, with new challenges in my daily life such as running a business, innovating in terms of service or managing credit risk. it is exciting !
Can you tell us more about Hello bank! ?
Welcome bank! It is the 100% digital bank of BNP Paribas with presence in France, Germany, Belgium and Italy. Each country deploys its own model and adapts its strategic choices according to goodwill and the local economic context.
In France, Welcome Bank! It was created in 2013 to win and retain customers with an appetite for the independent banking service model with a mobile app that allows them to manage their banking operations in a ‘self-care’ mode. It’s simple, fast and real-time. This online banking market is emerging from a decade that’s been very focused on the race to open accounts, and I think we’re entering a period where value creation matters more than volumes. I am more interested in the idea of gaining and retaining customers who are interested and satisfied with the offer and relationship than with the accumulation of very inactive accounts, which are simply attracted by the opening bonus.
You are also described as an “Online Bank for Professionals”…
We are truly the only digital bank serving both individuals and individual entrepreneurs who have started their own account and want a complete digital banking offer, always in complete independence and also including a whole series of additional non-banking services. In addition to everyday banking services, Marhaba Bank! Offers, for example, consumer credit solutions and manage quotes or invoices for these entrepreneurs.
This offer is from Hello bank! For individuals and self-employed entrepreneurs it is complementary to that of BNP Paribas, also aimed at all these clients, but with a more complete offer and in essence a dedicated client advisor.
What characterizes banking use today depends to a large extent on the way the customer deals with managing his money on a day-to-day basis, financing his projects or managing his savings. For many of them, a physical presence in the branch and the support of a bank advisor is essential. For others, a relationship that is less personalized, digital, and remote works better for them.
according to Banking Quality Awards 2023 Granted by MoneyVox to learn about banking offers with the best quality of service, welcome Bank! However, they are very well placed in terms of customer service…how would you explain that?
In Hello Bank! Our customers choose us above all because our user experience is very simple, fast and efficient. They greatly value this service and this is what allows us to be more intuitive compared to market offerings. Our 5 € per month subscription is very competitive.
In addition to this digital experience, we also offer support through banking advisors: it is a team of 200 expert employees, based in Lille and Merignac, who support our customers by phone, instant chat and message. Thanks to their work, we are also number one, all banks combined, in terms of digital customer relations and our customers are increasingly choosing us to be their main bank.
We make the synthesis between digital autonomy and human support. This is the best approach for us to create value; Offering an independent service model with the possibility of contacting a human being if required, a competent, efficient and friendly banking advisor!
With the advent of financial technology, we often talk about the risks of non-mediation…
I think we have to separate two worlds: there are 100% digital banks like Hello bank! And Boursorama and Fortuneo for example. These are credit institutions certified by the French regulator. Only they can provide complete online banking services, including overdraft facilities, deferred payment methods for debt or even consumer credit. The real “new banks” are those created by the big French banks. On the other hand, there is the world of pure players, which consists of companies that can sometimes be payment institutions, international platforms or simple trading companies in France. These players develop great customer experiences around payment-centric service propositions. For example, if you want to take advantage of French market banking offers such as Livret A or the famous savings account, only a digital bank such as Hello bank! can provide it to you.
Do you consider Gafam’s access to the banking sector a risk?
They have integrated payment into the services they provide to their clients. But being a banker is another complex skill that puts the security and protection of customers’ personal data at the heart of the relational promise. This raison d’être is the core of the contract that binds us to our customers who, moreover, clearly identify banks as the best and trusted third party to secure their operations and data.