IC Bank Takes The Lead In Innovative Disruption

By Susan Chanda

Mobile banking innovator, WIZZIT International, recently collaborated with International Commercial Bank to launch the first ever mobile payment platform in Albania. The launch of Zing marks a critical turning point for the traditionally cash-rich nation and is surprisingly being adopted and implemented by one of Albania’s smallest banks.

International Commercial Bank, also known as IC Bank, ranks 14th in size on the list of Albania’s 16 national banks. Though seen by some as a risk for a smaller financial institution, it’s the fact that IC Bank is smaller than other Albanian banks – but more forward-thinking – that allowed them to seamlessly adopt the WIZZIT software, says IC Bank CEO, Gideon Van Den Broek.

A subversive solution
According to Van Den Broek, to achieve their desired growth, IC Bank needed to adopt disruptive thinking. They needed to transform the current financial services model and up-end traditional banking habits in Albania to endear themselves to a new generation of post-Millenial bankers.

Van Den Broek and his consumer banking head, Paul Wild, identified a niche for a simpler payment solution. There was a need for easier access to more convenient banking – for example, simplifying the process of insurance renewal. Albanians are required to renew their car insurance annually, by physically going into a branch. A better solution, Van Den Broek ventured, would be a digital platform to process the same requests.

“After exposure to other successful WIZZIT implementations in various African countries, we began discussions with them in February 2015,” explains Van Den Broek. “As soon as we understood the immediacy and flexibility of the platform, and the progressive vision they have for the future of banking, we knew it was the right fit for IC Bank.”

Payment transformation
It required the work of a dedicated WIZZIT development team to quickly and accurately tailor the mobile banking solution for IC Bank’s needs in just six months. Working with an electronic point of sale (POS) provider in Albania, WIZZIT and IC Bank developed a mobile in-store payment method, never before seen in the country.

This allows customers to pay for transactions via a token sent to their mobile phone, protected by a security code, and accepted by the POS machine, thereby eliminating the need to carry cash. It makes shopping quick, convenient and safe.

David beats Goliath
At a national banking conference shortly before the launch of Zing, IC Bank were lauded for fearlessly pioneering an unprecedented financial services system – and recognised for outperforming their competitors in the mobile payments sector.

“It’s essential for us to be nimble in a market largely dominated by staid and conservative banking behaviours – and crucial to work with an equally forward-thinking and flexible partner in implementation,” explains Van Den Broek.

IC Bank will be marketing the service through social media, particularly targeting students who’ll likely be most receptive. The collective approach of IC Bank in implementing the cutting-edge system will fundamentally change the way young Albanians bank – and complete financial admin, like license renewal – to support a new generation of conscious, contemporary financially savvy citizens.

“WIZZIT’s collaboration with IC Bank is indicative of how simple it is to introduce a cost-effective mobile banking solution in a matter of months – if banks partner with the right people,” says WIZZIT co-founder and CEO, Brian Richardson.

“Transforming the way people bank to be safer and more inclusive doesn’t have to take years, and it doesn’t have to be an administrative nightmare. It can happen quickly and seamlessly, to create the mobile banking systems of the future.”

About Brian Richardson
Brian is the co-founder and group CEO of WIZZIT International. Brian is recognised globally as a disruptive innovator in the financial services space. He’s fostered powerful partnerships with major FSPs around the world to advance mobile banking technology.

Brian is a sought-after speaker at conferences, events and business institutions around the world – including the Harvard Business School – to share his expertise and knowledge. He’s also an Ashoka Globalizer Fellow – a worldwide network of social entrepreneurs.

About IC Bank
International Commercial (IC) Bank was one of the first private-sector banks in Albania, established in 1997.IC Bank offers complete financial solutions expertly designed to cater to the unique banking needs of their customers. By adopting an innovative approach to new products and services, IC Bank is constantly driven to expand and develop their offering to remain one of Albania’s most forward-thinking financial institutions.

About Gideon van den Broek
Gideon has extensive banking experience, having started his career with ABN AMRO Bank before moving to Citigroup in 2001, and ultimately joining IC Bank as CEO. Gideon holds an MBA from North Carolina University and two bachelor degrees. Over the years, Gideon has amassed a wealth of knowledge about product management, customer segmentation, business development and organisational transformation – all of which have proved invaluable in his role at IC Bank.

About Paul Wild
Paul is Head of the Consumer and Small Business Banking Department at IC Bank. He holds a bachelor degree (BSc) in Financial Services from the University of Manchester as well as a Professional Banking qualification from the Chartered Institute of Bankers in England. Prior to joining IC Bank, Paul worked for Raiffeisen Bank in Albania and as a banking consultant for EBRD, EIB, IFC and USAID in several international locations.