“Latvia has higher quality internet banking than other countries, and it is even more functional than other index leaders such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Electronic banking services save customers money and promote the development of various sectors of the economy, for example one success story is the IT sector, where companies which have gained experience developing internet banking in Latvia are now exporting these high value added services,” says Association of Latvian Commercial Banks (ALCB) President Mārtiņš Bičevskis.
Almost all (97%) clients of Latvian commercial banks make remote payments through internet banking, with just 3% making payments in bank branches. ALCB data show that inhabitants have significantly changed their habits in the last ten years – whereas in 2005 almost half (46%) of payments were made in branches, by 2010 just 10% of payments were made using paper format and in 2013 the figure was just 5%. All banks in Latvia offer internet banking services.
“Internet usage is significantly increasing as people use it for their everyday needs. This has led to a logical rise in the use of internet banking and mobile apps – data from the index shows that in just one year the number of internet banking users in Latvia has grown by 6%. There has also been growth in the range of financial services available digitally – and people use these more and more: they not only make payments and transfer funds, they also made amendments to contracts and contact the bank remotely,” says Diāna Dubova, head of Swedbank’s Digital Services Department.
The popularity of internet banking has promoted usage of other e-services
Over the last year Latvia has jumped four places on the index to hold 14th place in the EU for use of public e-services. Inhabitants can use electronic services and gain authorisation for their use through their internet bank on sites such as the combined state and municipal portal Latvija.lv, which provides several dozen e-services, the State Revenue Service electronic declaration system, as well as the portals of Latvenergo, Latvijas Gāze, Lattelecom and private service providers LMT and Tele2.
“DNB’s Norwegian colleagues say that queuing is an archaic practice only seen today at superstar concerts and fun parks. It is a rarity for a person to need to be physically present to submit or sign a document, and this is only necessary on extremely important occasions when they need to be identified in person. In other situations, applying for services and concluding contracts is a simple question of authentification. Why should it be any different for receiving services from the state? I think that both state and private sector players have made an excellent start in cooperating with banks for authorising the receipt of services. We also encourage smaller player to consider cooperation, as this will benefit consumers. Because those customers hate wasting time and energy dealing with bureaucrats,” says Kristians Pudans, head of DNB Bank’s Marketing and Communications Board.