ALPHA BANK LAUNCHES GARMIN PAY AND FITBIT PAY PAYMENT SOLUTIONS

lpha Bank Romania introduces Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay, contactless payment solutions available to AlphaCard Visa debit or credit card holders using Garmin or Fitbit smart devices, into the payment ecosystem.

It’s easy, fast, and secure to use Garmin Pay or Fitbit Pay solutions when making purchases of any kind, and it’s also completely secure thanks to the latest electronic payment security technology used by Visa.

Activating them is made easy from the Wallet section of the apps on your Android or iOS devices.

“We are pleased to add Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay to the range of contactless payment solutions available to our customers. In a dynamic world, where the need for safety and health protection has become essential, the launch of contactless payments via smart watches and devices confirms Alpha Bank Romania’s commitment to continuously expand the digital options offered to its customers”, said Cristian Dragos, Executive Vice President Retail Banking, Alpha Bank Romania.

“We congratulate Alpha Bank Romania on this achievement. We see the two newly launched payment solutions as an excellent opportunity to increase the number of Romanian consumers who have the possibility to pay by the method that best suits their lifestyle. In recent years, we have seen a high appetite among Romanian consumers to adopt payment innovations.

Over 90% of all Visa card transactions in Romania are contactless, which places us 4th in Europe and 7th globally in this respect. We can already see that payments with smartwatches, mobile phones and other connected devices are becoming part of everyday life for more and more Romanians”, said Elena Ungureanu, Country Manager Romania, Visa.

Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay use Visa’s newest security technology for contactless payments, the token, which allows users to securely enter the credentials used to make payments. Confidential information is encrypted, ensuring the security of contactless transactions.

The new payment methods introduced by Alpha Bank Romania respond to the growing need of card users for contactless payments. So, no matter when or where you choose to use Garmin Pay or Fitbit Pay, using the Visa card attached to it, you will pay safely, quickly and easily. If you do not yet have a Visa card issued by Alpha Bank Romania, you can apply online here.

Using Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay is free, both in the country and abroad, and payments with your Garmin watch or Fitbit device are made without additional fees or charges at any terminal that accepts contactless payments.

For more information, visit the dedicated pages for the two Garmin Pay products – here and Fitbit Pay – here.

ALPHA BANK ANNOUNCES THE LAUNCH OF THE SECOND EDITION OF THE FINQUEST INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL INNOVATION COMPETITION

Innovative ideas, applications and technology solutions that will shape the digital future of banking are expected at the second edition of the international digital innovation competition, FinQuest by Alpha Bank 2020.

According to the bank, FinQuest has been designed in response to the banking sector’s current need for digital solutions and applications using modern technologies. To this end, creating a new digital banking experience is the challenge participants are invited to respond to, with innovative ideas that modernise banking and put the customer first.

FinQuest by Alpha Bank 2020, now in its second year, will run for three months and take place in three phases. The first stage includes the submission of proposals and the second stage is about supporting the ideas and proposals that have stood out, through special workshops and seminars by market and Bank specialists. In the final phase, the selected proposals will be presented at an open event where the three best solutions will be chosen.

The submission process for FinQuest by Alpha Bank has already started and will run until 25 September 2020.

WITH THE HEAD OF ALPHA BANK ABOUT HOBBIES, BANKS AND SUMMER NOT SLEEPING!

Sergiu Oprescu’s hobbies are fishing and painting. The head of Alpha Bank says he likes going to the Danube Delta for the feeling of wide open space and varied landscapes, and admits he has only once fished the sea but caught nothing. Alpha Bank’s executive chairman admits that his favourite painter is Constantin Piliuta, whose paintings he ”fell in love” with at an exhibition in 1980. All this and many other financial topics are covered in an interview with Wall-Street.co.uk, an already routine, unconventional one.
Sports is another banker’s hobby, especially swimming. The head of Alpha Bank says that in his youth he practiced judo and was impressed by the performances of Alina Dumitru and Corina Caprioriu at the London Olympics.
From sport to banking

But can the banking system follow a model? It’s very difficult, admits Oprescu, because banks are under general criticism stemming from fundamental flaws in the global financial system. He says traditional credit institutions, which attract deposits from the public and manage to channel these funds into the real economy, have suffered from investment banks taking extremely risky positions on risky derivatives.

As for Romanian banks, the banker says that what is to blame is that they imagined that the period of exuberance between 2004 and 2008 could last longer. The head of Alpha Bank said that the biggest threat to the Romanian banking system is that the level of domestic savings is not sufficient to sustain non-governmental credit.

And bankers…sing

About the song “Summer I don’t sleep” he says that it portrays a whole atmosphere of the young generation. “I found the song ‘Summer I don’t sleep’ absolutely special, it really got me, to be honest, I listened to it a lot when it was released, because it managed to portray a whole atmosphere”.

ALPHA BANK ROMANIA LAUNCHES ALPHA PAY ONLINE APPLICATION. EASIER AND MORE SECURE PAYMENTS WITH BIOMETRIC AUTHENTICATION

Alpha Bank Romania launches the new Alpha Pay Online application, which makes online payments at 3DSecure merchants easier and more secure using biometric technology. Biometric authentication is the optimal security solution for identity verification while providing a pleasant user experience.

The new application has an advanced security standard and state-of-the-art technology that will allow users to authenticate biometrically online transactions in a simple and fast way, using fingerprint, facial recognition or any other security code that can be generated by the device: password, PIN, swipe pattern, etc.

The Alpha Pay Online app can be downloaded from both Google Play and the App Store and has a menu available in Romanian, English and French. It is easy to use, displays cards enrolled in the 3DSecure service and the history of transactions authenticated through it.

Banking users’ preference for online transactions is growing. Thus, at the level of Alpha Bank Romania’s portfolio, online transactions increased by 86% in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, while 1 in 4 of the bank’s customers carried out at least one transaction online.

ALPHA BANK IS THE FIRST BANK IN ROMANIA TO ACCEPT UNIONPAY CARDS AT POS TERMINALS

Alpha Bank Romania and UnionPay International (UPI) announce that UnionPay cardholders worldwide can now use their cards at POS terminals in the Alpha Bank acceptance network. With this agreement, Alpha Bank Romania becomes the first bank in the country to accept UnionPay cards at POS terminals.

This is an extension of the previous agreement from May 2019 between Alpha Bank Romania and UnionPay, whereby UnionPay cards were accepted in the Bank’s ATM network. Now, UnionPay cardholders can not only withdraw cash from Alpha Bank ATMs, but also make payments at over 4,000 merchant locations in Romania.

With over 8 billion cards issued in total in 61 countries and regions worldwide, UnionPay now serves the largest cardholder base. Currently, 15 out of 17 countries and regions in Central and Eastern Europe accept UnionPay cards.

“As the first international bank to launch operations in Romania, Alpha Bank is a major player in the payments industry and is our valuable partner in the local market. We are very happy to launch the ATM acceptance service, followed by the POS acceptance service together with Alpha Bank Romania. This achievement will benefit our cardholders and enhance the service capability of local merchants offered to UnionPay customers,” said Wenhui Yang, General Manager of UnionPay International’s European Branch.

“We are honored to be the first banking partner in Romania of UnionPay, an organization present in most European countries. At the same time, we are pleased to offer value-added services to local merchants and contribute to the increased attractiveness of Romanian destinations. Now, any merchant holding a POS from Alpha Bank Romania can immediately accept secure and convenient transactions from UnionPay cardholders”, said Mr. Cristian DragoČ™, Executive Vice President Aria Retail, Alpha Bank Romania.

ALPHA BANK LAUNCHES NEW EASY PAY SERVICE

Alpha Bank Romania launches the Easy Pay service that allows customers to easily and simply pay utility bills, services or various other bills using credit cards issued by the bank.

Until 26 June, the bank offers promotional cost conditions for the new service. Thus, for any payment made through Easy Pay there are no fees and the interest rate is 0% for a period of 3 months after the transaction.

The Easy Pay service is attached to credit cards in lei issued by the bank: AlphaCard Visa Credit, AlphaCard Visa Gold, Alpha MasterCard Credit and Cosmote Alpha MasterCard.

ALPHA BANK IS HIRING BRANCH MANAGER

lpha Bank is organizing a competition for the position of Branch Manager in Piatra Neamt. Those interested can send their CV and a cover letter by 27 February The ideal candidate is a graduate of a university with economic profile (postgraduate studies in the financial-banking area, business administration or risk management will be appreciated); has at least 5 years of experience in the banking field, of which at least 2 years of professional experience, preferably in a position similar to that of branch manager; Possess advanced knowledge of banking legislation and NBR regulations and in-depth knowledge in the financial, credit and risk area, with application to the banking sector, and have a good level of English (written and conversational).

On the other hand, relevant coordination, communication and interpersonal skills, customer orientation and achievement of objectives; strategic thinking and a high level of professionalism; credibility, reliability, self-determination and confidence in own strengths, proactivity, dynamism and ability to solve problems promptly and prioritize target-planned objectives are important. The person targeted for the position of Branch Manager will coordinate the activity of the Piatra Neamt Branch, will promote Alpha Bank’s image, products and services locally, supervising and motivating a team of professionals and will identify business development opportunities; he/she will propose customized financing solutions for clients, establishing long-lasting partnerships based on a high level of professionalism. The responsibilities of the branch manager position also include reporting to other business units and top management, Alpha Bank representatives point out.

ALPHA BANK DA TONUL REDUCERII CREDITELOR IPOTECARE IN LEI

Alpha Bank Romania reduced by up to 2.25 percent the margin on mortgage loans granted in lei. For a mortgage loan in lei, the interest margin has been lowered to 4.5% above the 3-month Robor, and the minimum down payment is now 15%, compared to a minimum of 25% for a similar loan in euro. The bank’s margin is now lower for lei than for euro mortgages, but the total interest rate, plus the Robor index, is more than 3 percent higher. Alpha Bank clients who transfer their salary benefit from a discount of 0.25 percent compared to the standard version. In addition to the interest rate, clients also pay an analysis fee of 400 euros. For refinancing loans in lei, the bank’s margin has been reduced by 2.25%, 0.25% more than the standard loan. The interest rate is 4.25% or 4% for clients who transfer their income, plus the 3-month Robor interest rate. In the case of the refinancing loan, Alpha Bank will waive the 400 euro analysis fee. If for a mortgage loan in lei, the interest margin can reach up to 4%, for a Prima Casa loan, the bank imposes a margin of 2.5% over the 3-month Robor.

ALPHA BANK AND EUROBANK SHARES SUSPENDED ON ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

The merger of Greek groups Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank, both with operations in Romania, could be delayed by uncertainties over losses from the Greek state’s debt relief program for private creditors, an Alpha Bank official told Reuters on Monday. Shares in their banks were suspended on the Athens stock exchange on Monday. Before the trading halt, Alpha Bank was up 9.4% on expectations for a change in the terms of the merger in its favour. EFG Eurobank was down 0.25%.

Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank, ranked second and third respectively in Greece’s top banks, agreed in August to merge to create the country’s largest bank to make it easier to deal with the debt crisis. Alpha said in a statement to the Athens stock exchange on Monday that it could not give a precise timetable for the merger with EFG Eurobank because of several factors, including negotiations with the Greek government on reducing Greece’s debt. “Alpha Bank informs that due to the current macroeconomic conditions directly affecting the banking sector (private sector participation in the Greek bailout), it is currently unable to provide a precise estimate of the timing and overall evolution of the merger with Eurobank EFG. As soon as definitive factors emerge, the bank will make an announcement,” an Alpha Bank statement said.

EFG Eurobank in turn notes that it wants to complete the merger as soon as possible and there are no reasons for delay. “Eurobank informs that it is in consultations with Alpha Bank to complete the merger process as soon as possible and considers that there are no reasons to delay the completion of the merger,” it said in an announcement sent by the bank to the Athens stock exchange. The Greek Finance Ministry notes, in a statement quoted by Athens News Agency and Reuters, that there is no reason why the bond exchange negotiations should affect the merger process between the two banks.

“The management of the two banks has closely followed the negotiations between Greece and private creditors. Thus, they are aware of the PSI framework agreement (private sector participation in the Greek bailout programme – ed.), which is not new and has not been changed from the previously considered option,” the statement said. EFG’s exposure to Greek government bonds is about twice that of Alpha Bank, which means it will be more heavily affected by the fact that losses from the bond buyback included in the Greek debt relief programme will be higher than assumed in the merger negotiations.

“There are financial issues that need to be analysed, such as the current net loss from the bond buyback. That doesn’t mean the merger deal collapses or will stop,” the Alpha Bank official said, declining to be named. The harsh effects of the country rating downgrade and growing portfolio of non-performing loans. Shareholders of the two banks approved the merger last November. Hit by deposit outflows, Greek downgrades and rising non-performing loan portfolios, Greek banks have been forced to explore closer collaboration in the hope of regaining access to financial markets.

The Athens stock exchange regulator suspended trading in the two banks’ shares in the early part of Monday’s session. Before the suspension, Alpha Bank shares were up 9.4% at 1.28 euros, outperforming the Athens stock exchange. EFG Eurobank shares were down 0.25% at 0.8 euros. “The market believes that the terms of the agreement could change in favor of Alpha Bank. EFG Eurobank has the largest portfolio of Greek government bonds, so according to the losses resulting from the net present value of government bonds, n.r.), it will have a higher recapitalisation requirement,” a banking analyst said.

A banking source close to the two banks said there are different views on the pace of the merger and discussions on the issue will continue. “Alpha is asking for a delay, nothing more, but it’s risky. Discussions will take place to reach a common denominator on the different views on the merger’s rhyme,” the source said.

ALPHA BANK ROMANIA CELEBRATES 20 YEARS SINCE THE FIRST MORTGAGE LOAN IN ROMANIA

Creditul ipotecar, the banking product for Romanians who want to buy or build a home, has celebrated its 20th anniversary on the local market. In September 2001, Alpha Bank Romania announced the launch of Alpha Housing, the first mortgage loan that allowed the purchase of a house without any other guarantees than the mortgage on the purchased property and without guarantors.

The loan was granted in dollars, for a maximum period of 10 years, with a down payment of 30% and was designed for the purchase of a dwelling, the construction of a house, the purchase of land for construction or the renovation of the house.

“Alpha Bank Romania launched the first mortgage loan that was intended for individuals and was entirely based on their ability to repay that loan. It was a milestone in the development of the retail market in Romania, which after this key moment developed at a very fast pace. Over the last 20 years, the product range has been continuously developed and we have supported more than 45,000 Romanians to buy or build the home they wanted,” said Sergiu Oprescu, Executive Chairman of Alpha Bank Romania and Managing Director of the Alpha Bank International Network.

At the end of June 2021, Alpha Bank Romania’s outstanding mortgage loans exceeded RON 6.29 billion (EUR 1.28 billion).
The range of products has been constantly improved during this period, and Alpha Bank Romania today offers multiple solutions for customers who want to purchase a home, exchange their home for a larger one, build a house or purchase land for construction, or refinance their mortgage loan from another bank. In other words, a full range of mortgage products, including green financing solutions for those who want a green home.

The government’s “Prima Casa” programme, launched in 2009, has supported the revival and expansion of mortgage lending, with Alpha Bank Romania being the second bank in the system to join the programme.

Alpha Bank Romania continued its pioneering role in the field and launched, in 2019, the first mortgage bond issue on the local market – an important moment for Romania, which thus entered the European community of mortgage bond issuers and investors. Alpha Bank Romania thus marked a new first on the local market and covered the entire development arc of the mortgage market, opened with the first loan of this type, in 2001.

The outstanding quality of the mortgage portfolio and the status of expert in this area were also recognized by Moody’s Investor Services rating agency, which in April this year raised the rating of the mortgage bonds issued by Alpha Bank Romania to A3, one of the highest ratings given by Moody’s on the Romanian market.

At the same time, Alpha Bank Romania has been a member of the Romanian Green Building Council (RoGBC) since 2018, and in November 2020 became the 66th European lender to join the Energy Efficient Mortgage Initiative.

Growth driver for lending, market-wide
At market level, the balance of mortgage loans reached 94.28 billion lei (19.14 billion euro) at the end of June 2021, and the number of active mortgage loans exceeded 540,000, according to Credit Bureau data.

Over time, mortgage lending conditions have been relaxed by extending the loan period to 35 years and reducing the minimum down payment, with the stock of mortgages growing continuously since its launch. The expansion of housing credit remained accelerated after 2008, with an average annual growth of more than 10% in the post-crisis period, with the increase in the mortgage balance supported by the “Prima Casa” programme.

“In 2009, and then in the period 2012-2016, mortgage credit was the only growth driver of non-government credit. In the remaining years, with the exception of 2011 and 2018, the expansion of housing credit was the source of at least half of the growth in non-government credit,” Sergiu Oprescu adds.

Regarding the currency in which Romanians borrowed during this period, the share of mortgage credit in lei in total mortgage credit increased from 10% in December 2007 to 79% in July 2021. The increase is due both to the change in the legislative framework and to the significant decrease in interest rates on loans in lei since 2014. As regards the repayment of these loans, the non-performing loan ratio in the mortgage segment is very low, standing at 1.68% (at the end of March 2021).

Romania ranks first in the EU in terms of the number of home owners, with almost 96% of Romanians owning the properties they live in, compared to the European average of 69.9%. But we are lagging behind when it comes to the share of mortgage loans in GDP, with 8.4% in 2020 (up from 3.3% in 2007).