“The price of the 3a solution is unbeatable for the customer”
Interview for the expert article for Computerworld dated 6 December 2017
WIR Bank is working together with start-up VIAC to offer customers an app for the third pillar in Switzerland. The solution is intended to give digital natives a better idea of how to save for the ‘third pillar’. Germann Wiggli, Chairman of the Board at WIR Bank, tells us how the collaboration came about and what the bank hopes to gain from it below.
Why are you cooperating with the start-up VIAC? What commercial benefits will the collaboration mean for WIR Bank?
The WIR Bank has been offering customers second and third-pillar savings solutions for retirement planning for over 15 years via its ‘Terzo-Vorsorgestiftung’ (‘Pension Fund Foundation’) and ‘Freizügigkeitsstiftung’ (‘Vested Benefits Foundation’). We are already recording volumes of over 1.3 billion Swiss francs in this area. The aim of the cooperation with VIAC is to complete our range of securities savings products in the third pillar, as well as in the second pillar later on. As the first 100-percent digitalised mobile solution for the whole of Switzerland, it fits perfectly with our digitalisation offensive, as well as offering customers unbeatable value with regard to price.
As a financial institution, your bank probably has existing processes for projects, in contrast to start-ups. How did the collaboration work?
One side must not exclude the other. The fast rate at which the WIR Bank has launched new digital products and services since November 2016 means that we are ready to handle projects in dynamic conditions.
What does that mean in this particular case – working with VIAC?
Open and constructive dialogue was – and still is – a major feature of our collaboration. Our internal project manager updated me regularly on the project’s progress. Add to this the fact that we already had prior experience of working with Ergon on a variety of different joint projects in the past. This dialogue was also factored in accordingly.
What technical obstacles cropped up during the project?
The biggest technical challenges were, of course, posed by the strict regulation found in the banking sector. The standard set for technical implementation is derived from banking sector rules and regulations. As such, banks are required to implement suitable concepts that will minimise IT and cyber risks, as well as defensive measures.
How did you manage this?
In terms of security, we decided to go for the standard set for banking – and not, for example, for the standard set for private pension funds. Boiled down to a common denominator, it means a conscious effort was made to invest more resources in IT security than is usually the case for this kind of project.
What advice would you give to other banks wanting to cooperate with fintech start-ups?
To achieve success, our recipe is as follows: Keep a clear and open mind and listen to the suggestions made by start-ups. You should then compare these with your own strategy – and not think about the obstacles straight away. At the same time, it is also a case of keeping the ‘exuberance of youth’ in check, without unnecessarily hindering the speed at which development takes place and at which ideas are implemented.
How are the next steps of the project looking?
Further releases of the VIAC app are already being scheduled and budgeted for 2018. A few interesting features are set to be added – be prepared for a few surprises!