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One Zero CEO: Banks should promote economic welfare


The role of the banking system is firstly to serve its customers day-to-day banking needs but according to digital bank One Zero CEO Gal Bar Dea, it has another function that is just as important. He told the Globes Tech IL Conference, “Banks have two roles – the first is to look after customers’ money and as part of this role to ensure that transfers work. The second role relates to the responsibility we also have for the economic welfare of people.”

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Interviewed by “Globes” correspondent Nevo Trabelsy, Bar Dea said, “It would not be unreasonable to have a directive from the Supervisor of Banks that says that every time a bank submits an annual work plan, the Supervisor will ask to see if the plan reduces the number of customers in overdraft. That customers from (socioeconomic) cluster 2 to cluster 3. They should not concentrate only on capital adequacy or a certain profitability, but will check whether at the end of the day we contributed to the welfare of the public. These directives and vision would make us braver and invest in things we didn’t invest in before.”

Let’s get back to last weekend’s attack by Iran that was thwarted. As the CEO of an Israeli bank are you scared?

This morning I remembered that two days ago we were sitting at three in the morning watching a science fiction movie. An investor called me at three in the morning and asked if everything was okay. I told him I was making a presentation to the board and he asked me in response ‘if I’m normal.’

“I came to found a bank and in response I was told that no bank has been established in 50 years, so there are few things I fear. I woke up in the morning and two things crossed my mind. The triumph of Israeli high-tech and the triumph of long-term thinking. 30 years ago people came along with a long-term road map and developed technologies. The second thought is that in some of the things that affect my life, long-term thinking does not exist. There are residents in the north who do not know what will happen to them tomorrow. You don’t know what is happening with the haredim and with education. Precisely in the things that affect me the most on a daily basis, we live in a world of short-term thinking and this bothers me.”

So there is nobody really managing the situation?

“It’s not a political matter but how you manage implementation. This thinking does not exist in the public sector. In the EU there are directives. If you want to be a member of the EU there is a list of rules you must comply with such as lowering the corruption index or greenhouse gas emissions. It doesn’t matter which party comes to power. One of the things we lack in the government is this kind of directive. It is possible to take it to the world of transport and reduce the number of cars on the road. We in the digital bank call it reaching the moon. In the public and political sector it does not exist.”







Technology – the only way to enable an authority to advise everyone

One of the developments of One Zero, designed to distinguish it from the existing banking system, is AI. The bank has developed “Ella”, which currently allows basic operations to be performed, but in a future stage, it will be able to perform operations for the customer without human contact.

“One of the amazing things as a bank that has responsibility for financial well-being is that I would like to give all customers someone who is an authority to consult with,” he explains, “but there is no way to give all of us a person to talk to and the only way is through ‘Ella’. She is based on the ability to get to know you as a customer, through the open banking reform, which is an amazing thing, and secondly, through the developments we are doing in-house, she will be able to advise you.”

When will you fully utilize Ella?

“It’s about the versions and from version to version you see that more people trust it. You can ask questions and consult and the early adopters are satisfied. But in the end it’s a learning curve. Some people will say that the challenge is not technological but psychological. I’m talking about technology and codes, but ultimately we work a lot on how ‘Ella’ speaks and whether she knows how to throw in a joke or qualify what she says or admit that she is wrong. The version we have today is already exciting.

You are changing the role, what will happen in a few years?

“We intend to be a large and significant bank in the Israeli system. Most people have not switched bank, there are 2-2.5% a year that switch bank. For 50 years there was no alternative and the banks’ profits showed that today there is room for another large bank. Everyone wants an explosion tomorrow and asks me why we have broken the market. I am trying to explain that banking is a marathon. We have a goal and we believe that in other countries like Italy and the US there is no one to consult. If we can provide this ability here, and we proved it when despite the protest and the war, we reached 100,000 customers, so we can look globally 30 years ahead. So we can be the next Citibank.”

Full disclosure: The Conference was sponsored by One Zero Bank, Microsoft, HP Indigo, KPMG, AT&T, and Mekorot and with the participation of the Israel Innovation Authority.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on April 17, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.




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