TMI spoke to Raphael Barisaac, UniCredit’s Global Head of Cash Management, and Massimo Ortino, Global Head of Financial Institutions Sales, about how the firm’s new strategy in transactions and payments reflects the dynamics of a changing global market.
UniCredit’s new CEO Andrea Orcel, who took the helm in April 2021, has big plans to tackle the rapidly changing needs of its customers. The bank’s latest strategic spend, announced on 9 December 2021, is targeting annual revenue growth of about 2%, and profit growth of 10% through to 2024. In addition to a huge share buy-back and shareholder distribution programme, a key part of the delivery of his strategy is a €2.8bn investment in digital and data infrastructure, to be rolled out over the next three years. It’s a huge commitment, designed to encompass the new norms of its diverse client base.
The payments space in particular has been undergoing a major overhaul in the past decade, with Big Tech players and fintechs emerging with innovative solutions that at one stage threatened to disintermediate the banks. The competition remains, and banks must stay innovative, but the hype has subsided to a degree. A more balanced view of the future is prevailing, with both parties acknowledging that they need each other, says Ortino. “We’ve learned how to work together, seeing it as an opportunity for enrichment and a means of transforming our industry whilst maintaining the high expectations of our clients across all segments.”
Ortino explains that it was essential for the industry to look at itself in the mirror. It had to recognise its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, in order to move forward. “We know we are the incumbent, but our biggest asset is not our data, nor the high entry barriers for the competition, but the fact that we have the trust of our clients. It is of the utmost importance, particularly from a corporate perspective.”