I already wrote about problems and the situation with e-banking in Serbia. In this post I’ll write about my experience with Raiffeisen bank in Serbia (link to their official website).
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
Raiffeisen bank came to Serbia in 2001. About a year or two later I had opened a savings account in that bank. Been with them ever since – almost 20 years now. They are owned by the foreign, Raiffeisen Bank International banking corporation.
They have a reputation of being a bit more expensive (account maintenance fees etc.), but also good quality and reliable.
Did a rather good marketing campaign that also resulted in many locally popular memes. 🙂
At the time of writing this post, like most other Serbian banks, Raiffeisen bank doesn’t provide 2FA protection for logging in their e-banking accounts. Probably with a good reason, as I explained in the post about e-banking in Serbia.
Maximum allowed password length is well below 20 characters, and there are no special characters allowed. Fortunately, the procedure for changing both the username and password is very well designed and easy to use, so by choosing a “funny” username, one can increase the account security (if a “hacker” has no idea what username to try).
When paying on the Internet, there is an additional security using a token – that is, you have to open the banking application on your mobile phone, then enter the temporary one-time use generated code (2FA protection for payments). The downside of this is you need a smartphone – can’t be done using their desktop banking account.
In the post about securing a WordPress site, I explained how each layer of security introduces more complication/inconvenience (and that no system is 100% secure, by definition). While another post explains security layers, attack vectors, and the weakest link.
Account used for payments over the Internet is separate from foreign currency deposit accounts. So you can, using one click, transfer the needed amount of funds for payments, when you need to make a payment. This is a good measure of security.
Visa card PIN code can’t be changed (some banks, like Komercijalna bank, allow the change of PIN code on their ATM-s).
Another thing, atypical for Serbia: I am a “re-educated” left handed man. So I write with my right hand, but my handwriting is very poor and my signatures are often not identical. This is the only bank in Serbia where they would check that, and insist on providing identical signature, or not do business. Which is a good security measure, if not perfectly convenient. I only ever experienced something similar in Germany.
3. Raiffeisen bank e-banking services
User interface for electronic banking, both on a desktop computer and on a mobile phone is well designed: clear, intuitive, and easy to use. Among the best I’ve seen when it comes to Serbian banks.
You can make a “nickname” for each account, which is handy if you have several accounts, for it allows you to easily figure out which one you are dealing with at any given moment. Unlike Banca Intesa, nicknames are memorized and work both on a desktop, and in the mobile app.
Payments in euros are directly withdrawn if you have euros on your account, while payments in other currencies are exchanged to Serbian Dinars (so you end up paying about 2.5% more). Of course, payments in Serbian Dinars are directly withdrawn from your Dinars account. For any payments over the Internet, there is a commission of 1%.
It is easy and simple to add new recipients for paying bills (electricity etc.), and for paying to Serbian current accounts. You can pay up to 15 bills (or current account payments) per week without a commission.
Catch: if you are trying to pay money to a friend, you need to fill the field of the account number reference (“poziv na broj”) in the following way: number 95, followed by the current account number (with no spaces between). Instructions for payments (in Serbian), on the bank’s website (seems the site is built using WordPress 🙂 ). Found the instructions using Google – no links on the website, nor website search option shows this document.
For every income, or withdrawal of funds to an account, you get a practically instant SMS notification on your phone. However, e-banking platform (both desktop and mobile app), although it shows the correct account balance in “real time”, doesn’t list the particular transactions until some 3 to 5 business days have passed. Banca Intesa and Komercijalna bank show everything momentarily (along with SMS notifications).
In the previous chapter I already mentioned the ease of transferring funds from one account to the other.
At Raiffeisen bank’s “smart ATMs” you can pay euros into your foreign currency account, as well as withdraw euros from the account. I don’t know of any other bank in Serbia that offers that.
The price of Dinars account maintenance is about 3 euros per month, while foreign currency current account maintenance costs about 8 euros per month – which is a bit more expensive than in most other banks.
Update: if you get a new mobile phone, the application is easily activated without going to the bank – all works smoothly on-line. 🙂
4. My experience as a Raiffeisen Bank client
Similarly to Komercijalna bank, I’ve been doing business with Raiffeisen bank for about two decades. I’ve never had any problems, nor inconveniences.
There generally aren’t long queues and waiting times, while people working at the bank are quite polite and patient.
After my experience with Banca Intesa, as well as because of the way Komercijalna bank charges for on-line payments exchange rates, I went to the Raiffeisen bank to see about online (Internet) payment options. I explained in plain language that I wish to pay on-line using euros account, and to receive payments from abroad, as well as to place and withdraw euros using their ATMs. Then, a polite clerk offered me a services package that is very affordable, in addition to my existing services package with the bank. And this was better than any other services combination that came to my mind after viewing their services offers. So not a typical up-sale that most banks (and businesses in general) do – this was really mutually beneficial. Extremely polite and professional – some half an hour was the woman explaining everything, and patiently answering all of my questions, without being “pushy” at any moment.
The result? Until my Visa card expires, I no longer need to take the time from the banks counter clerks (nor from myself), but can get everything done using an ATM, with all the services I need provided.
I haven’t been using Raiffeisen bank’s online payment services until relatively recently. For now, everything is working perfectly.
Would I recommend Raiffeisen bank? Based on my experience so far – certainly.