Jitka Haubová is in charge of operations at Komerční banka. In practice, this means for example ensuring that your payment goes smoothly, that you can withdraw money from an ATM, your contract is legible, your account is functional and your branch is easy to use. Jitka Haubová argues that the bank is intertwined with the daily lives of its clients more than they may realise. It also protects clients from risks and helps them fulfil their dreams.
Reliability, stability and availability are all something that’s taken for granted when you think of a bank and its payment systems. What else do clients require the most at the moment?
The most common requirements include real-time payments, being open to global solutions and to third-party collaborations. New tech challenges are obviously related to all this as well.
Path to a technologically transformed bank
What are the biggest tech challenges for a bank?
I’ve already mentioned instant payments. This means being able to transfer money between accounts in a matter of seconds, regardless of time or whether it’s weekend or holiday. In KB as well as in the Czech Republic as a whole, instant payments have a share of 27.9% today. However, after the big technological change that we are currently implementing, instant payments will be the standard for our bank, and we will no longer offer any other types of payments.
When will this be ready?
Next year. Our technological transformation will become visible to clients as the new KB Plus app. We are already testing the app – I have it on my mobile for example. However, technological innovation in our bank is far more complex. It’s obviously a continuous process. We are using the latest software in payments already today. It is much safer, simpler and will ensure compatibility with other innovative solutions in the future.
This almost sounds like future bankers will need some tech capabilities in addition to their banking knowledge.
In some positions, it will naturally come to this. I recently completed a programming course because I thought it would be good if I could better understand the specialists who work on technological changes.
Banking Innovator of the Year for sharing
You mentioned KB payment cards. They are made of recycled plastic and have won many awards for their novel design. However, let’s focus on ATMs now, as this is what Komerční banka received the Banking Innovator award for.
This project is our response to the European trend of ATM sharing. We got inspired in the Nordics in particular. Together with MONETA Money Bank, we’ve agreed that if KB and MMB have two ATMs next to each other, we will move one of them elsewhere, typically to a place where there was no ATM before. This way we have increased the availability of payment services without installing new ATMs and paying for extra operations. Today you can withdraw from more than 1,400 such ATMs throughout the Czech Republic. The number will keep growing, because the project should be joined by other banks next year. Overall, this is one of the many steps taken by Komerční banka in our efforts to become a sustainability leader. In addition, this award was decided by the public in an online poll, and we won among dozens of banks, which for me is a sign that our fellow citizens are not indifferent to sustainability.
You also won the new Sustainable Bank award as part of the Bank of the Year 2021 competition. What did the jury appreciate the most about your sustainability approach?
It was our company’s thoughtful and considerate business approach towards the environment, employees and society as a whole, i.e. ESG (Environment, Social and Governance).
Komerční banka has long been setting the direction in sustainability. Can you mention some more of the many awards you have received in this field?
Besides reducing our own consumption, we have created products for citizens and companies which encourage sustainability, and we will carry on with these activities. For example, last year we made loans with corporate clients which have environmental or social impact in the amount of 22 billion CZK. This year, we won the first ever Green Crown award in the Golden Crown competition for our Loan for Sustainable Technologies for Citizens, which also offers interesting state subsidies. Some of our products are not yet fully compliant with European taxonomy and regulation, but we are trying to keep up with overall situation, which is developing very quickly.
There are many such products and services, and it is impossible to list them all here. I would just like to remind entrepreneurs about our KB Advisory consulting company, whose specialists have a wealth of experience in ESG, energy and renewable resources. They can help with subsidies and tenders, plus they can set up a long-term sustainable operation for your company.
Jana Švábenská, Hanka Kovářová, Šárka Nevoralová and Jitka Haubová (from right) received the Banking Innovator of the Year 2022 award for ATM sharing
Helping create rules of international trade
From January 2023, you will be the new chairperson of the executive board of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC CR). What do you want to achieve in this new role?
As a world trade organization, the ICC has the unique authority to create rules of international trade. Although they may not have a legislative nature and are therefore voluntary, they are respected in everyday life. The ICC can convey the views and needs of entrepreneurs at an international level. These alone are strong arguments for me to accept this position. I will strive to ensure that the ICC CR’s activities have tangible results and that it keeps getting more recognition among entrepreneurs.
It’s just a few days left so I have to ask: What do you want for Christmas?
In our family, we usually say our wishes in advance, because there is nothing worse than pretending to be happy about a gift you didn’t want. We see this as squandering. Our gifts are therefore very practical - for example, my biggest Christmas wish this year is to have our cottage painted.
I echo our bank's survey among Czech population, which found that the things about Christmas that we see as most valuable and that we remember the most are not expensive gifts, but rather things money can't buy. These are moments spent together with loved ones, the joy of reunion, Christmas atmosphere or telling stories. Some of the memories people described to us were so touching that we thought we should share them with others, too. You can view them at www.nejcennejsivzpominka.cz.
What is your most treasured Christmas memory?
Just after Christmas one year, I gave birth to our sons.
Jitka Haubová was interviewed by Jana Jenšíková
Photo credits: Marek Jenšík and Jitka Haubová