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What are the most relevant assets of new banking products and services?

How close are we to a cashless society? Are we moving toward a cashless future fast enough?

Not close enough. The recent Covid pandemic was a powerful catalysator of digitalization acceptance on both merchants and customer side. But this was an unnatural event and in the absence of further similar triggers, the consumers will continue to comply with current status and not making efforts in skipping the use of cash. And this behaviour is more to be seen in mature markets (like Germany, Italy, Austria). Central Banks digital currencies might be a game changer, however, is little to know yet on the final business and technical model of the new currencies.

What do you see as the biggest challenge or limitation of AI technology in regard to product development?

AI cannot deliver any usable information in absence of quality data. AI does not mean just analysing the sample of data which is available and identifying some behavioural patterns. In the payments area, the banks are struggling with the increased requirements of GDPR, which limit the possibility of using the full available data.

Of course, there are to be identified several internal reasons, especially on technical infrastructure capabilities to organize the pool of data in a proper format, suitable for such investigations.

In a summary, the data – quality and availability – represents the most relevant assets of new products and services.

How do you see total digitalisation transforming banking operations?

Total digitalisation shall not be the ultimate goal. It is impossible to feed any IT system with the entire amount of data and logics the human brain can cope with.

The focus shall be on automating the simple, repetitive and/or non-value adding tasks or processes. For example, real time compliance screening of transactions, instant warning notification in case of any SLA breach, or customer self service for payment tracking and investigations. The path of operation’s digitalization shall follow the strategy of product development area, and pursue to offer this support fast, transparent, and cost efficient as possible.


Cristian is also joining our 9th Annual Product Development Excellence in Banking Summit, on 14th - 15th September 2022 in Vienna to facilitate the discussion devoted to Payment Operation Transparency and Digitalisation

Cristian CENGHER is a Product Owner Cross border Payments at Erste Group. He has 20+ years in banking industry, out of which the last seven were spent in the Payments area, Cristian is responsible within Erste Group for cross border payments clearing business infrastructure.

With a strong process and project management background, working closely with IT and front office teams, he is leading and supporting several group-wide projects aiming to improve, innovate and optimize the payments operation landscape, by applying combined agile & waterflow techniques.

Representing the Austrian community within the SWIFT Payment Market Advisory Group, Cristian lately extended its focus on CBDCs, crypto assets and the blockchain arena. Member of several working groups within EBA and ESBG, he is since October 2020 member of European Central Bank Market Advisory Group – Retail Digital Euro project.

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