Czech Republic-based electronic banker Expandia Bank, among the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe, has begun to offer a wide range of Internet banking services.
Expandia Bank clients can access their accounts via the Web, e-mail, fax, phone as well as GSM phone short text messages. The goal of Expandia Bank is to identify specific client groups and provide them with standard banking products through modern distribution channels.
Expandia entered the Czech banking services market in May of this year. Its strategy is aimed at providing better and cheaper service through the utilization of information technologies.
Expandia also offers traditional products such as demand accounts and time deposits as well as a wide range of standard and non-standard account operations, cash management and EuroCard/MasterCard payment cards. All these banking products are fully available via the Internet, 24 hours per day.
Although Expandia did not disclose the number of clients recruited
during its first two months of operation, one can assume it does not represent substantial competition for “stone” banks at the moment.
The electronic banker ran a broad advertising and marketing campaign before the launch of the operation, yet the demand for e-banking is expected to grow rather slowly in the Czech Republic. People in Eastern Europe are extremely conservative when it comes to dealing with money; many of them don’t believe in banks at all and prefer to save money in cash.
However, it isn’t just conservative older people that express their doubts about e-banking in the Czech Republic. Many IT experts are seriously concerned about the security technology used by Expandia which employs 128-bit encryption. Every client is equipped with a personal electronic key that serves both for identifying the client and for verifying the identity of the bank. Numeric code generated by the key can be used only once, and besides that, communication between the client and the bank can be additionally encrypted by standard Internet means.
“Their system is based on entirely safe and reliable Microsoft technology,” said Zbynek Pospichal from NetMag, one of the most popular Czech “underground” e-zines. “If you believe Microsoft, do believe Expandia as well.”
Representatives from Expandia said the service has experienced no security problems thus far. The bank was a target for many hacker attacks during the first few months of operation but Expandia’s security technologies proved to be safe.
The success or failure of Expandia Bank will be a measuring stick for the more prominent Czech banks as they prepare their own projects for e-banking, despite the reservations of users. And stronger competition from these banks will represent more of a threat to Expandia than hacker attacks and skepticism of the general public.