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Posted: 11/11/2013
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Alpha Bank Alpha Bank embraces Windows Phone 8 platform for developing native mobile banking application

As a leading financial organization with a reputation for being at the forefront of technology development, Alpha Bank wanted to provide customers with advanced mobile banking user experience on a Windows Phone platform. It developed an application that provides a rich set of retail transactional functionality, exploits native features of the platform for groundbreaking location based features, and supports email and phone integration.

Business Needs

Alpha Bank in Greece is one of the country’s leading banks. Founded in 1879, it has over 1,200 branches including branches in the Balkans and Cyprus, and over 16,000 employees.

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* We want to be at the forefront of new technology, among the leaders. We also want to ensure we’re attracting young people to the bank and a strong mobile platform is indeed one way to achieve this. *

Theodoros Konstantatos
Deputy Director, Software Applications Division
Alpha Bank

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The bank has constantly been at the forefront of innovation and in 1998, when much of the commercial world was struggling to understand the value of the internet it launched an internet banking platform. Within a few years this was followed by the introduction of WAP technology for mobile banking. Though WAP technology has largely disappeared today, it illustrates how forward looking Alpha Bank is in terms of exploring the potential of new technologies.

Within this spirit of innovation, the bank launched mobile apps on the Android and iOS platforms some years ago. While the apps had been relatively successful, it also wanted to launch a Windows Phone 8 native app. This was not only driven by an anticipated increase in Windows mobile devices but it also wanted to exploit the superior benefits of a native app that could take advantage of the Windows phone 8 platform. A native app provides software features and other benefits that web-based apps can’t provide.

Theodoros Konstantatos, Deputy Director, Software Applications Division, Alpha Bank, said: “We want to be at the forefront of new technology, among the leaders. We also want to ensure we’re attracting young people to the bank and a strong mobile platform is indeed one way to achieve this.”

Solution
Alpha Bank wanted the Windows Phone 8 app to integrate with its existing web banking platform. This meant integrating with an existing Microsoft-based stack driving the current web banking solution. The aim was to ensure users could benefit from a fluid and intuitive experience for retail electronic banking transactions. By using Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate the Windows Phone 8 app was developed within three months. Visual Studio provides agile processes, sophisticated management tools, and a robust testing infrastructure.

The Windows Phone 8 app carries out a wide range of retail account transactions as well as providing access to related services such as savings accounts, cards and loans. It also supports profile management scenarios, along with publicly available functionality such as location services, IBAN calculator and call center support integration.
Location services were introduced to help users find the nearest ATM or physical branches. Customers can also access their email account(s) to send transaction information. They can also be put in touch directly with a call centre.

Alpha Bank’s IT department is also assessing additional features for future versions. These include the use of the phone’s camera to enable bar code reading on bill payment notes. Other areas of development are focused on targeted marketing activities by exploiting the push notification technology available in the Windows phone platform.

The application has been built upon concrete security practices and utilizes a two-factor authentication security scheme. A further level of security includes encrypting and signing messages between the phone and back end services, making message tampering and data sniffing impractical.

Benefits
The Windows Phone 8 app was released at the end of January. Theodoros Konstantatos, Deputy Director, Software Applications Division, Alpha Bank, said: “The whole process of developing, testing and launching was very smooth. We launched with minimal resources into an economic landscape that has been difficult, yet we’ve seen some very encouraging signs.”

  • Positive adoption rates and glowing customer response – Because Alpha Bank was in the middle of an acquisition process, and subsequently engaged in integrating different IT systems the Windows Phone 8 app was launched without any marketing fanfare. Yet despite this, take up has been relatively high. Themos Vichos, Deputy Manager, PMO and Demand Management Division at Alpha Bank said: “We’ve had 6,000 downloads and 1,000 active users in the last few months. We’ve also had lots of customer feedback reviews and all of them say how impressive the app is. We are very encouraged.”
  • Attracting younger customers – Alpha Bank has a strong reputation in the commercial and high-end retail sector. However, as a forward looking bank one of the aims behind the Windows phone 8 app is to cast its net towards younger tech-savvy customers. By offering a mobile banking platform it is gaining a significant foothold in this market. 
  • Retail ebanking meets mobile location services– By fusing retail transactional features with the location services enabled by native app functionality Alpha Bank is redefining customer expectations and creating a new mobile banking user experience.  
  • Platform for the future - Vichos added: “From the first discussions around the development of the app, it became clear that a native app provided much stronger benefits than a web-based app. The Windows Phone 8 app means we can provide our customers with a better user experience, better functionality and a better platform for future developments.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published November 2013

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 16000 employees

Organization Profile
Alpha Bank is one of Greece’s leading financial organizations. Founded in 1879, and headquartered in Athens, it has more than 1,200 branches including locations in the Balkans and Cyprus.

Software and Services
  • Windows Phone 8
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate 2012
  • Microsoft Consulting Services

Vertical Industries
Banking

Country/Region
Greece

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Leftheris & SIA OE (Indice)

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