I wrote about electronic banking in Serbia – in general. Here is my experience with Komercijalna Bank (link to their official website). I’ve been using their services for about 20 years (since the year 2002).
Note: information and experience written in this post are based on my knowledge and experience. Interpret them as: “as far as I know”, or “to the best of my knowledge”, and/or “according to my experience”. Nothing more, nothing less.
1. Introduction – basic info
Komercijalna bank has been in business for about 50 years. They started as a government-owned bank. In the period from 1990 until about 2010, they had some rather questionable business choices. From giving credits to companies close to the regime, under conditions clearly unfavourable for the bank, with the cherry on the top of the cake in the form of storing heroin in their vault, deposited by Serbian National security service (other countries have the mafia, while in Serbia mafia has the country).
In addition to that, many of the state employees have been “encouraged” to open accounts and get their pays through Komericijalna bank.
As a result of this, they are probably the bank with a lot of clients and probably with the most branches, in every place in Serbia. As well as many ATMs. Which is very practical for the clients.
In 2020 they were bought by Slovenian NLB bank (Nova LJudbljanska Banka) – so now they are privately owned.
At the time of writing this post, like most other Serbian banks, they don’t provide 2FA protection of e-banking accounts. Probably with a good reason, as I explained in the post about e-banking in Serbia.
The maximum allowed password length is well below 20 characters, though the use of special characters and numbers is allowed. You are also allowed to set your own, “random” username, so that’s a bit of extra protection.
Password change, or reset procedure is not very intuitive, not well explained and doesn’t work quite as intended. This should be fixed and explained better, but you can manage it (with a bit of trouble and patience).
3. Komercijalna banka e-banking services
User interface is obviously designed as mobile-first. It isn’t bad, but it could be better.
Compared to many other Serbian banks, it’s among the better ones. Mobile phone application is quite good.
All the incomes and withdrawals are listed almost instantly in the e-banking interface, so you can keep an eye on it as soon as you log in. You also get instant SMS notifications on your phone for each income, and/or withdrawal.
At the time of writing this article, any online payments in foreign currencies are calculated in Serbian Dinars, making some extra costs because of the bank’s exchange rates (that are unfavourable for the customers, as with most Serbian banks – explanation of banking currency exchanges). That is the main reason I don’t use Komercijalna bank for payments over the Internet.
Other banks don’t do these conversions for payments in euros (for other currencies they do them as well). Extra charge for payments in US Dollars is about 2.5%. If using PayPal, it goes up to about 8%, but more on that in a separate post, when I find the time.
Bank’s policy hasn’t always been like that, so I used to use this bank for online payments. However, in the past years, I use a different bank for that. I used Banca Intesa for a few years, then, as of relatively recently, I use Raiffeisen Bank (because of my Banca Intesa experience).
There are no commissions for paying local bills online (electricity etc.).
Paying to a current account in Serbia asks for using the phone to verify and confirm the recipient (unless they are already “booked”). This complicates things a bit, but it is not a big deal. Suppose it is a security measure.
Current account maintenance costs are under 3 euros per month. Foreign currency accounts are free of charge, but there is no interest on the deposited funds (so the price paid is the effective inflation rate for the currency).
Update: when changing a mobile phone, it is not possible to activate the mobile app over the Internet. Instructions are not clear, and after some head bashing, I got a message that someone from the bank will contact me regarding that… And they did, on the next working day. Intesa bank worse regarding this, you need to go to a branch, personally, while with Raiffeisen it all works nicely, completely automated, as it should.
4. My experience as a Komercijalna bank client
I am very pleased in general. Over the past decades, the bank has changed its policies a few times, so I went on and off with using some services (when it’s not favourable, I go with other banks). Nonetheless, the bank has always fulfilled what was agreed (which is not always the case when doing business in Serbia).
There are branches and ATMs in many places, so that’s super convenient for me. They are polite accommodating (which is often not the case with Serbian clerks in general).
They offer relatively affordable cash credits in Serbian Dinars to their clients. I used that on one occasion – based on my calculation, it made no sense spending my own money compared to taking credit with such an interest rate.
I’ve used this bank for paying for things online, for travelling abroad, and use it regularly for payments at home. It’s good, it works, been with Komercijalna bank for about 20 years now. Basically, everything that Komercijalna bank offers I can also get from Raiffeisen bank (whose client I am as well), but after so many years of reliable service, I’m not eager to leave this bank, at least for getting my pay stored and for payments at home. It’s also cool that I have ATMs for getting cash at practically every corner. The only “extra” cost I have for staying with the bank is the just under 3 euros per month account maintenance costs.
It is also handy that, in a pinch, in case of problems with another bank’s card (which is not uncommon in Serbia), I can use Komercijalna bank for online payments, at the cost of the extra “commission” (as explained in chapter 3).
Update August 2021: they’ve increased the prices for account management, and decreased the number of online bill payments without any commission. So I’ve closed my account, switching completely to Raiffeisen bank.