Frankfurt Seven of the eleven cooperative Sparda banks will be changing their IT service provider next year. As a result, the customers of the cooperative financial institutions have to log into a new online banking system, for which they also need new access data. First, in spring 2024, it will be the turn of Sparda-Bank Augsburg and Sparda-Bank Ostbayern, said Florian Rentsch, President of the Sparda Association, on Wednesday.
The seven banks together have 2.3 million customers, around 60 percent of whom use online banking. These Sparda banks had previously afforded their own IT service and are now gradually switching to the cooperative IT service provider Atruvia, which serves the more than 700 Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken centrally.
Even if the IT conversion goes smoothly from a technical point of view, there is a risk for the banks that customers will be annoyed by the process, will not react in time and then initially no longer have access to online banking. “It can be assumed that we will strain the customer relationship,” said Rentsch.
The four Sparda banks, which switched to Atruvia some time ago, lost a significant number of customers in the course of the online banking conversion. The other Sparda banks want to learn from these experiences.
For example, they would inform customers earlier, said Rentsch. In addition, the capacities for the telephone service and in branches had to be increased by the date of the changeover. A five-digit number of inquiries is possible every day.
Long struggle for the right IT service provider
After a long struggle, the seven Sparda banks decided in March to give up their own IT service provider and switch to Atruvia. They are currently cooperating with the French IT specialist Sopra Steria. The financial institutions had already negotiated with Atruvia (then Fiducia GAD) in 2018, but then decided to work with Sopra Steria.
Should the IT conversion lead to further customer dwindling, the Sparda banks would be hit hard. The number of their customers and members – i.e. customers who hold shares in the banks – has already fallen significantly. At the end of 2022 there were a good 3.3 million members, a good 100,000 fewer than a year earlier. The eleven Sparda banks have a total of 3.8 million customers.
The association cites demographic change and the fact that the Sparda banks have largely abolished their formerly free checking accounts as the main reasons for the decline in the number of members. They were one of the few branch banks without account management fees.
In the past year, the Sparda banks benefited from the significantly higher interest rates, after having previously suffered significantly from the negative interest rates. Although their new lending business – which is mainly about mortgage lending – shrank by ten percent, the important net interest income increased.
In view of, among other things, high depreciation on securities, the operating result after the valuation in 2022 still fell to around 100 million euros. In the previous year it was 265 million euros.
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