MERGER BETWEEN ALPHA BANK AND EUROBANK STALLED

Unexpected difference between the Greek banks Alpha Bank and Eurobank, which engaged at the end of last year in a merger process with major impact in Romania: Alpha announced that it can no longer advance a timetable for the completion of the merger until the Greek debt situation is clarified, while Eurobank, which controls Bancpost on the local market, claims that there are no reasons for delay and pleads for the completion of the process “as soon as possible”, notes Ziarul Financiar. An alarm bell was sounded last week, when although Alpha and Eurobank finally got approval from competition authorities to go ahead with the merger, the two banks were reluctant to welcome the overcoming of this hurdle that had held up consolidation during January. What’s more, they declined to announce a timetable of steps to be taken before the new Alpha Eurobank, which is expected to become Greece’s largest credit institution, is formed.

According to www.zf.ro, the situation cleared up yesterday, but on a negative note: Alpha Bank sent a five-line message to the Athens stock exchange stating that due to current macroeconomic developments in Greece directly affecting the banking sector, it cannot estimate when the merger with Eurobank will take place. Paradoxically, Eurobank sees no reason why the completion of the merger should be delayed, its position was also made public via the exchange. This is the first time since the merger process was launched that the two banks have spoken with different voices.

ALPHA BANK CHIEF: BANKS MUST BECOME MORE AUTONOMOUS

The old banks need to become more autonomous, as they are currently dependent on external savings, Sergiu Oprescu, president of Alpha Bank, said on Friday at the conference “The new banking order and the recovery of the economy”.

He added that external savings cannot be attracted if only the channel of the relationship between parent and subsidiary banks is used. In addition, the capital market is an area that should attract external financing, according to Sergiu Oprescu.

The chairman of Alpha Bank said, “We are in an industry that will require more and more capital, but with more risks. Credit institutions need to become more autonomous. We are dependent on external savings. The capital market is an area that should attract external finance to bring capital to companies. Increasing domestic savings and expanding banking are needed in Romania today. Non-government credit in Romania is growing at a rate of 10% per year, compared to only 1% in the euro area”.

The head of Alpha Bank said a lot of work will be needed to “re-anchor” the banking system to ensure a potential for economic growth above the European level. “We are at a time when the European regulatory framework, as a post-crisis measure, requires additional capital requirements, while yields are starting to be regulated more and more heavily, making them lower and lower,” he said. Sergiu Oprescu said that the banking system needs to identify risks at the client level in order to allocate as little capital as possible.

HOW THE EUROBANK EFG REPRESENTATIVES ARE CHEWING OUT THE ALPHA BANK REPRESENTATIVES

Eurobank EFG has taken a stand in a press release against the decision of Alpha Bank representatives to stop the merger process between the two Greek credit institutions. We present below the press document.

PRESS RELEASE

At a critical time for Greece and following the successful restructuring of the country’s sovereign debt, Greek banks should rise to the current challenges and assume their responsibilities towards the Economy, Shareholders and their Customers.

The joint decision of Eurobank EFG and Alpha Bank to create the 23rd largest banking institution in Europe was based on the substantial benefits that the planned merger would generate, not only for the two banks, but also for the Greek Economy as a whole.

Alpha Bank Management’s intention to propose to revoke the merger decisions taken by the Shareholders, decisions taken in full knowledge of the basic parameters and framework of the PSI+ Private Sector Involvement Agreement and at a time when approvals from all relevant regulatory authorities in Greece had long since been obtained, leads to a potential loss of over €4 billion in combined synergies, as estimated by the joint external advisors at net present value. This comes at a time when Greek banks are being called upon to significantly strengthen their capital base. Moreover, Alpha Bank’s overall motivation is not in line with the underlying facts.

Eurobank EFG, as befits a financial institution, has consistently followed the decisions of its Board of Directors and Shareholders’ Meetings, as it has done in the case of other previous successful mergers.

Eurobank EFG will continue to successfully develop its business activities and contribute responsibly to the national effort for the economic recovery and development of Greece. As always, our strategic decisions will serve the National Interest, our Shareholders and our Customers.

LOANS FOR MEDICAL SERVICES: BANK OFFERS

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics, in 2010, over 73% of Romanians did not go to the doctor when they needed to. The reason: the cost of a medical visit. The system’s shortcomings in this area have led to the launch of new banking products, ready to help customers, but still those who can afford to save some money each month. The banks are bringing to the forefront a niche with potential in Romania, yet untapped: loans for medical services.

OTP Bank Romania, launched last year the product “Credit for health”. It is aimed at people who need money for various medical treatments or surgeries. The loan can be accessed through partner medical clinics. Patients can borrow a maximum of 21,000 lei, and the loan can be repaid in up to four years. Applicants do not need an advance or guarantor, as the loan is granted on the basis of the invoice issued by the medical clinic concerned.

At Regina Maria clinics, patients can pay for medical services in instalments by accessing the Flexicredit consumer loan from Raiffeisen Bank under preferential conditions, benefiting from a 1% interest rate reduction. The loan can be in lei or euro, with fixed or variable interest. Clients need a recommendation from Regina Maria to benefit from Flexicredit with preferential interest rate.

If you are a patient of Medcenter, you can access a loan for medical services from Banca Transilvania. The product was launched in August, is part of the START BT program and involves the payment of services in the form of three monthly installments without interest, regardless of the value of the package.

Banca Italo Romena grants health loans of up to 10,000 euros or the equivalent in euros. The loan can be repaid in a maximum of 60 months and is granted to customers up to 58 years old.

Partner credit cards – Health in instalments

More and more clinics have become bank partners. This means that customers can pay in instalments for the treatments prescribed here. For example, in Medsana centres you can access medical services in instalments through Alpha Bank credit cards. Thus all credit card holders: AlphaCard Visa Credit RON, Alpha MasterCard Credit RON, AlphaCard Visa Gold RON can pay in instalments with zero interest for any of Medsana services.

Arcadia Hospital offers patients the possibility to pay for medical services in 12 monthly instalments, without interest or commission. This can be done through the credit cards Card Avantaj from Credit Europe Bank, Bonus Card from Garanti Bank, Credit Card from Raiffeisen Bank and Credit Cards from Banca Transilvania.

Health with discounts

Other banks have also partnered with hospitals or clinics, including dental and beauty clinics, and these agreements bring you bonuses/discounts. Prices paid with partner cards are cheaper and up to 50% cheaper than the standard price list.

For example, the EVA.RO credit card for ladies from Libra Internet Bank has a discount scheme attached to shopping and quality medical services in the network of partner locations. The card brings you 50% discounts at partner clinics.

For Unicredit Tiriac Bank clients who have a Credit Card, Unirea Medical Centre offers an 8% discount on all services offered at CMU clinics in its network.

Health card directly from GRAL Medical clinic

Since November 2011 a new product appears on the market, branded Gral Medical, namely: the Favor Accumulation Card. First of all the Favor card is a health card with “accumulation” as the name says. This means that money is accumulated on the card and it stays on the card as long as the cardholder wants. In other words, the amount accumulated on the card is not lost at the end of the year.

Secondly, the card can be used by all family members (parents, children, siblings, etc.). When the patient is placed in a situation where a relative has health problems, the Favor card protects the whole family. Thirdly, the card gives you maximum flexibility in accumulation (monthly, occasional or both) and access to all medical services with significant discounts.

ALPHA BANK WANTS TO BUY EMPORIKI BANK FROM CREDIT AGRICOLE

Alpha Bank is close to taking over the Greek subsidiary Emporiki Bank of the French group Credit Agricole, according to sources quoted by the Greek daily Imerisia, as reported by Kathimerini. An agreement will be signed in mid-September, after finalising the terms of the recapitalisation of the Greek banking sector, according to Mediafax. The new bank resulting from the takeover will have the backing of Qatar’s Paramount fund, the publication notes, without detailing in what form, and Credit Agricole will retain a stake.

Credit Agricole has recently been trying to reduce its €4.6 billion exposure to Emporiki, following fears that a Greek exit from the eurozone would trigger massive downward asset revaluations and force a capital increase.

Emporiki has previously confirmed that it is in preliminary talks with Greek banks and regulators. National Bank of Greece, Greece’s largest bank, announced in early July that it was in talks with Credit Agricole for Emporiki.

The French group decided in June to transfer all Emporiki Bank subsidiaries in the Balkans, including the one in Romania, to Credit Agricole. The National Bank of Romania has agreed to the purchase of the shares of Emporiki Bank’s Romanian subsidiary by Credit Agricole, and the name of the credit institution will be changed in August to Credit Agricole Bank Romania.

Last week, the Greek bank Piraeus took over, through absorption, the viable assets of Greek state-controlled ATEbank, including the ATEbank Romania branch, the transaction being part of the financial restructuring and consolidation process of the Greek banking system. Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank are also present in Romania.

HOW BANKS SHARE THE INTERNET BANKING MARKET

The year 2011 proved to be extremely good for banks’ activity in the Internet Banking segment. Almost all the credit institutions that were the subject of the market study “Top banks on Internet Banking in 2011” have recorded significant growth in the field, confirming that banking operations performed in front of the computer are no longer unknown to Romanians.

The analysis “Top banks on Internet Banking in 2011” presents details about the evolution of the profile portfolios of 17 local banks: BCR, BRD, Banca Transilvania, Raiffeisen Bank, UniCredit Tiriac Bank, Alpha Bank, Bancpost, ING Bank, Banca Romaneasca, Garanti Bank, Libra Bank, Romanian International Bank, Banca Comerciala Carpatica, Millennium Bank, OTP Bank, ProCredit Bank and Bank of Cyprus.

The research contains details on the total number of customers and the breakdown of individuals/legal entities reported by the 17 credit institutions, the evolution of the number of transactions and the value of transactions carried out broken down by individuals/legal entities in 2011 compared to 2010 and a detailed presentation of the activity of the banks under analysis in 2011.

The market study “Top banks on Internet Banking in 2011”, worth 39 euro, can be purchased by clicking on the “Buy” button. Payment for the market study can be made by credit card via the secure Paypal portal or by bank transfer, based on a pro forma invoice which can be requested at [email protected]alphabank.info

ALPHA BANK OFFERS PRIZES OF 100 LEI TO CUSTOMERS WHO RECOMMEND CREDIT CARDS

Alpha Bank Romania is launching a new promotional campaign Member Get Member that can bring to the bank’s customers who own a MasterCard credit card prizes of 100 lei by simply recommending a friend to successfully apply for a MasterCard.

The campaign also offers advantages to recommended persons, who benefit from zero issuing fee and zero annual fee for card administration in the first year. They can also recommend new customers and get the 100 lei bonus for each new card issued.

The Member Get Member campaign is attached to Alpha MasterCard Credit and Cosmote Alpha MasterCard credit cards and runs until mid-June. One person can get several rewards, depending on the referrals made.

ALPHA BANK AND SYMPHOPAY COMPLETE INTEGRATION OF INSTALMENT AND LOYALTY PROGRAMMES

Alpha Bank and fintech Symphopay have completed the integration of the Alpha Shop instalment and loyalty programmes with the Symphopay payments platform, with the solution already implemented at major retailers such as eMAG and Intersport.

Merchants now have access to a platform that integrates POS payments with loyalty programs and increases sales while eliminating processing errors.

This partnership responds to consumers’ obvious desire for fast and simplified payments, as well as control over their benefits. According to a survey)* Mastercard, 90% of consumers believe it is essential that benefits are transparent and easy to use, yet only 43% feel this is actually happening.

In the Symphopay platform merchants can activate marketing and communication campaigns so that every transaction turns into a new sales opportunity. Also, advanced reporting and analytics on card transactions and payment behaviours will provide merchants with useful information for business decision making.

“Partnering with Symphopay helps us deliver a streamlined payment experience to merchant partners as well as new loyalty opportunities, with the solution directly connected to the Alpha Shop rewards program. Thus, purchases with debit and credit cards issued by Alpha Bank are rewarded with Alpha Shop points, which can be converted directly into products in partner stores” said Cristian Dragoș, Executive Vice President Retail, Alpha Bank Romania.

“By implementing advanced payment technologies, merchants develop major competitive advantages in building a long-lasting relationship with customers. Partnering with Alpha Bank accelerates the adoption of these technologies that redefine shopping experiences.” said Daniel Nicolescu, CEO & Co-founder Symphopay.

Launched in October 2016, Alpha Shop is the most innovative rewards program for Alpha Bank Romania customers who choose to pay for purchases using bank-issued cards enrolled in the program.

When paying by card, depending on the value of the purchases made and the type of card used, the customer receives a number of points that accumulate and depending on preference, can be used to be converted into gifts consisting of free products and services or significant discounts applied to the next purchases in the Alpha Shop partner network.

FROM TODAY, ALPHA BANK CUSTOMERS CAN MAKE PAYMENTS VIA APPLE PAY

Alpha Bank Romania, today brings Apple Pay, a simpler, more secure and personal payment method to its customers, helping customers avoid sending their card to another person to make a payment, tapping POS buttons or paying in cash – using iPhone features that protect every transaction.

According to the bank, to make a contactless payment, customers simply need to bring their iPhone or Apple Watch close to a payment terminal. Every Apple Pay purchase is secure as it is authenticated with Face ID, Touch ID or device passcode, as well as a dynamic, unique security code. Apple Pay is accepted in grocery stores, pharmacies, taxis, restaurants, cafes, retail stores and many other places.

Customers can also use Apple Pay on their iPhone, iPad and Mac to make quick and easy in-app or web purchases in Safari without having to create accounts or repeatedly enter shipping and billing information. Apple Pay simplifies payment for grocery deliveries, online shopping, transportation and parking, among other things. Apple Pay can also be used to make in-app payments on Apple Watch.

Security and privacy are fundamental to Apple Pay. When customers use a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple’s servers. Instead, a unique device account number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in Secure Element, a certified, industry-standard chip designed to store payment information securely on the device.

Apple Pay is easy to set up. On your iPhone, open the Wallet app, tap + and follow the steps to add VISA credit or debit cards issued by Alpha Bank Romania. Once a customer adds a card to their iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac, they can immediately start using Apple Pay on that device. Customers will continue to receive the benefits offered by VISA cards issued by Alpha Bank Romania.

ALPHA BANK ABOUT THE FRAUD ATTEMPT: NONE OF THE BANK’S CUSTOMERS WERE AFFECTED

Following the information that appeared in the public space about real-time phishing attempts against customers of some financial institutions in Romania, including those of Alpha Bank Romania, we would like to point out that none of the bank’s customers were affected by these fraud attempts and the phishing website in question was blocked yesterday, October 7.

Alpha Bank Romania attaches critical and immediate importance to cyber security both at the bank level and through the information it makes available to its customers in order to raise awareness of the security risks related to the virtual environment.

We invite customers to read the Guide on Internet Payment Security, available at: https://www.alphabank.ro/Portals/0/PDF/persoane-fizice/carduri/securitate/ghid-securitate-plati-internet.pdf, and to follow closely the Alpha Online Banking messaging service where messages are constantly posted warning about possible fraud and preventive actions that can be taken by customers.

You should also keep a close eye on the Alpha Online Banking messaging service, where warnings about possible fraud and preventive actions that customers can take are constantly posted.

According to the guide, it is not recommended to access the bank’s Internet Banking site from a link received by email or SMS. Always navigate (by typing the address in your browser) to the official website and use the links there.

Links received by email may redirect you to a fake website controlled by the attacker. It can trick you into entering your login credentials on this fake attacker-controlled site.

To prevent cyber fraud situations:

  • Avoid, as far as possible, using unprotected e-mail to transmit commercially sensitive or confidential information (IBAN codes, passwords, payment details, etc.);
  • always use anti-virus software to protect your computers;
  • DO NOT make payments to new accounts that you have never used before, based on instructions received by e-mail and without first checking the validity of these accounts with your partners via other
    communication channels not related to e-mail. Fraudsters rely on this lack of verification, so if you do, you will successfully thwart the fraud attempt. Under no circumstances should you verify by e-mail or suggested means of contact via e-mail – we advise you to contact your partners directly, by known and secure means (telephone/fax numbers you have used in the past);
  • if you have made a payment to a wrong account, contact your bank as a matter of urgency in order to find out if there are any further possibilities to block/return the amounts involved;
  • We also encourage you to notify your local police authorities as soon as possible if you believe you have been the victim of such an attempted fraud.