In 2019, more than 19,000 new customers chose SEB banka as their financial counterparty. SEB banka issued EUR 596 million in loans, maintaining a sound total loan portfolio. EUR 146 million have been issued in mortgage loans to individuals for the purchase or renovation of their homes, which represents an increase of 7% against the 12 months of 2018 and which was facilitated by the ALTUM programme for young families and professionals. The performance of SEB Group in Latvia for the 12 months of 2019 was an after-tax profit of EUR 50 million, up by 2% compared with the corresponding period of 2018. In turn, the return secured by SEB Investment Management’s pension income for Pillar 2 and Pillar 3 customers was EUR 18.5 million, which is the best outcome ever achieved despite the low interest rates prevailing in the financial markets.
“The year 2019 was marked by rapid developments in the banking sector. The key efforts were aimed at fixing the sector with a view to eliminating the deficiencies, filling in the gaps and preparing for the assessment of Moneyval and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the AML/KYC control system of our country as a whole. A lot has been done by the end of the year. However, money laundering schemes are operated on an international scale; we therefore hope that in the near future the European Central Bank will come forward with a proposal to establish a common supervisory mechanism enabling regulators to cooperate at international level, so that striving for the transparency of the financial sector were not to occur solely at national level.
In terms of financial and business development performance, the year 2019 was a successful year for the bank. Customer deposits increased by 15%, new mortgage loans (purchase or renovation) issued to individuals went up by 7%, overall, the bank’s loan growth remained healthy at an average rate of 2%, and for the third consecutive year, we were awarded the highest rating in the Sustainability Index – the Platinum category, which supports that whatever we do we do it with a long-term perspective and the public does appreciate it.
As for major projects implemented by SEB banka 2019, I would like to mention the code card replacement project, which owing to its size was a difficult but important process for us as well as for our customers, and the development of the new Open Banking platform which is a relatively complex IT solution aimed at creating a technological environment, in which, subject to the Customer’s consent, viewing of the customer’s balance on an account with another bank is rendered possible.
During the year, we strengthened our relationship with out customers significantly. We took aboard more than 19,000 new customers and consolidated our relationship with the existing ones. The Innovation Centre has become home to entrepreneurs with an ambition to grow. In 2019, nearly 30 companies took part in the Growth Programme which lasted for several weeks, andworked hard to learn on the ways to boost their business growth. The prgoramme Inspiration aimed at start-ups is a programme worth mentioning, as well. This year, in cooperatio with seven municipalities, EUR 70 thousand were granted to start-ups. The Lighthouse Programme should also be mentioned; it is a programme implemented by the bank in cooperation with Mastercard and it drew 30 technology companies from the Baltic countires. These are the projecta we have been carrying out continuously to help small businesses grow and develop.
In 2019, the number of customers using our digital solutions increased rapidly: the number of mobile banking users increased from 104 thousand to 154 thousand, of which more than 73 thousand customers have been actively using these services. The number of Smart-ID users also increased significantly, reaching 273,000 users, up by 76,000 from the end of 2018, while the number of digitally signed documents reached nearly 175,000 documents at the end of 2019, an increase of 77% over the year. The convenience of the service is evidenced by the fact that in December alone, 68% of all home loan agreements signed with the bank were signed remotely. This is a great outcome, considering that we launched this solution just in the middle of 2019. Another acknowledged innovation is SEB’s Mobile wallet, which is used on Android phones. Since November last year, it has been used by more than ten thousand of our customers who have Android phones, and the volume of payments in this environment has been increasing by 20% on a weekly basis.
In the card sector, 60% of the new debit cards and 92% of renewed debit cards were delivered to individual customers by mail in December. A year ago, most customers had to visit the branch to collect the card. A similar trend, where customers prefer to communicate via the Internet, is provision of advice. In the second half of the year, customers increasingly used video meetings, there were close to 2,500 video-based consultations in 2019. I would also like to mention our newbie, chatbot, who was engaged in 2,200 chats with customers last year, answering the customers’ questions.
While we are very pleased with the digital evolution and our ability to provide convenient solutions to our customers, it also poses new challenges for us as a bank. As we increase the number of digital channels we need to take care of ensuring that they are functioning properly for our customers. Therefore, this year, we will also be focusing on a number of important issues: early in the year, we will complete the implementation of our common Baltic IT system, continue developing the Open Banking platform and have a close eye on anti-money laundering activities.”
— Ieva Tetere, Chairwoman of the Management Board of SEB banka.
SEB Group’s financial performance for the 12 months of 2019:
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SEB Group is a leading financial services provider in Northern Europe. As a relationship bank strongly committed to deliver value to customers, SEB in Sweden and the Baltic countries offers financial advice and a wide range of financial services. In Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany the key priority of SEB is to provide corporate and investment banking services to companies and institutional clients. The international nature of the activity of SEB banka is supported by its presence in 20 countries worldwide. At 31 December 2019, the total assets of SEB group amounted to 2857 billion Swedish kroner, whereas the total assets managed by it amounted to 2041 billion Swedish kroner. SEB group employs 15,000 employees. More about SEB group: www.sebgroup.com.