“We come after two years of performance of the banking system. 2021 was the best year for the banking system after the financial crisis of 2008-2010.
We had the highest level of loans in the last 12 years, savings increased by 13.9%, loans increased by 14.8%.
The digitization of the banking system had started long before the pandemic, but it indeed accelerated between 2020 and 2021.
At ARB, we did research and found that after the first year of the pandemic, 47% of consumers turned to online banking services and products. 19% chose both online and offline, while 34% remained dedicated to physical interaction with the bank.
There are many developments we are making at the industry level and we have to keep up with new technologies,” Gabriela Folcut, Executive Director of the Romanian Association of Banks (ARB) said during the Financial Forum 2022 organized by The Diplomat-Bucharest.
“In 2021, the volume of loans granted by banks to the population and businesses was RON 195 billion, while the total balance of non-governmental loans was RON 330 billion at the end of December 2021.
The banking system has the capacity to finance both the population and the private environment. The rate of non-performing loans is quite low, we also proposed to reduce it.
We are talking about a level of education that is first financial and then digital because we are in a field of interest. But the basis for building this house should be basic education. We’ve been talking about financial education for a very long time, and I’m going to share two things with you: a lot of us are very energetic and starting to build programs in banking, in capital markets, in digital , but we must know and recognize the second aspect, which I consider relatively negative, namely that people are not interested until they encounter a problem.
Either when they encounter the problem or when they enter the market platforms and unknowingly they are asked for their card details and made available. I mean there are some minimal issues that need to be known, this data does not have to be provided, but to make payments on the internet, if you are asked for the data for payments, you only need to have the IBAN , but there are things that are not yet known in Romanian society. As such, any growth, including in the area of digitalization, that we do must be done with great responsibility and, at the same time, further develop the area of digital education, financial education.
I am happy that from the year 2020-2021, the subject of social education, of a compulsory nature, has been introduced for all eighth grade pupils. All eighth graders began compulsory education that year. They learn about money, budget management, loans, deposits, insurance, etc. They do not yet know the capital market, but the information is probably provided on a voluntary basis and thanks to the efforts of those of ASF, ISF, etc., and I know that the National Bank is also specialized.
As such, it is a whole area that must be grown, made aware of education, this time I mean the digital one, because acceptance behaviors change with knowledge, integration will be more easy.
At ransomware all activities are blocked and we are offered a ransom amount in bitcoins. So we can’t track down the aggressors. We need some state involvement to facilitate legislation or regulation.
My fear is more related to the ability of companies to adapt to new requirements related to climate standards and sustainable financing. We may not have legal entities that qualify or to some extent affect long-term credit growth. Adaptation is etched by several factors: one is the Ukraine factor, the Covid-19 factor which has affected us and now we are also developing climate standards on top of that. I think that in the short term the part of sustainable loans could have an influence on the growth of loans, because surely there will be more restrictive rules and it is also necessary to focus on this area, to have more maybe competitive on cost area and so on.