Erste&Steiermärkische Bank d.d is a part of the Erste Group Bank, one of the biggest financial suppliers for Middle and East Europe. It was established in Croatia in the year 2000. throughout the years, Erste has aimed to develop a digital strategy based on the latest technological achievements and a strong focus on the customers' needs. That's why Erste is among the first banks in Croatia to implement the PhotoPay module into their mBanking app.

In 2005, Erste Bank was among the first ones to launch the mBanking project. The project was backed up by thorough market analysis and a big advertising campaign. Their expectations were big. However, the boom didn't quite happen. They were unpleasantly surprised because they didn't help their customers in the way they hoped to. One of the biggest problems was that Erste's on-the-go banking service was not really optimized for little mobile screens.

The second time’s the charm

Sometime around 2010, the hype around mobile banking was there, but great usage numbers didn't back it up. In many markets across the world, its introduction was lagging because the majority of the population was still heavily relying on either paper bill transactions, over-the-counter services, or even computer-based Internet banking. In Erste, they were on the quest to find new ways to deliver significant value to their customers. Having researched new solutions on the market for mobile platforms, they decided to rebuild the mBanking app.

The project included three parties: Erste Bank as the client, Infinum as the mobile app developer, and Microblink as the provider of PhotoPay, a mobile SDK (software development kit) for fast and accurate scanning and recognition of Croatian paper bills.

erste bank microblink photopay

The scan-to-pay revolution

PhotoPay helped improve the transaction process in a twofold aspect.
Its main benefit is replacing manual data input with a straightforward, fast and intuitive action. Instead of having to transcribe payment data by hand (or keyboard), the users could now make any payment in a matter of seconds by simply pointing the camera of their mobile phone to the payment slip.

Besides its ease, the other major benefit of PhotoPay is that it wasn't an attempt to change the system from scratch. In Croatia, most transactions were still done via paper bills and slips. Complete elimination of physical paper from transactions would be too big of a bite for the users and the whole system to chew on, but scanning of paper bills was trivial and it did not require users to completely give up the way they were used to make payments.

The app was very well-received by the users. In 2010, the app launch was a great success: it received many positive reviews on app stores and social media.

Adding payment slip scanning was a great UX improvement and it brought a lot of value to Erste Bank's users. The number of mBanking transactions has doubled in the first two years after PhotoPay integration, and in the year 2017 only, the number of users grew more than 30%.

erste bank microblink photopay

Let’s talk numbers

Before the relaunch, the initial version of the app had a quite low usability. This was not necessarily reflected in the number of mBanking users - there were approximately 15 000 of them - but a surprisingly low number of yearly transactions: only 1600. To put it in a better perspective: in the overall number of transactions, only 0,45% were mobile, and out of all customers, only 4,6% made mobile transactions.

After PhotoPay integration, within three years, the number of mBanking users went up by 160% - from 15k to 40k. More importantly, the number of mobile transactions jumped from 1600 to 160 000 in a year, which is an astounding increase of 100 times! The numbers have continued to grow: in 2014, the app reached 55 000 users and 375 000 yearly transactions. As a result of such a rise in app usage, their share price went up from 0,45% to 13,54%, while their compound annual rate was more than 360%.

Nothing succeeds like success

The quest to upgrade the user experience in mBanking did not stop with payment slip scanning. Encouraged by the app's initial success, the Erste team wanted to see how it can make mBanking useful for an even greater number of its customers.

In November 2015, we introduced a new addition to PhotoPay: field-by-field scanning. This means that the users could now scan data from various types of invoices. It has proved to be very useful for legal entities that operate with data in various formats which was often complicated to type in.

Erste mBanking app screen with partial scan to pay

After introducing mBanking for legal entities with the field-by-field feature, the number of mobile transactions grew by 144%. In 2017 alone, their share in the total number of transactions grew by 120%, and the overall number of users grew by 31%.

This is not our only collaboration with Erste Bank - we have also collaborated with Erste Group on multiple markets: our technology is part of the GeorgeGo app (IBAN scanning SDK for faster money transfers) in Austria, as well as Erste and Sparkasse mBanking apps in Serbia, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The amazing success of using mobile vision in mBanking apps can easily be replicated in many other industries where manual data entry is required. All Microblink solutions are available as mobile SDKs, meaning their integration into existing mobile apps doesn't require much development effort and can be made entirely invisible to the end-user.

Find out how our AI-powered technology can help your business and improve your customers' experience by contacting our sales team.