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Demetris Nicolaou: Chief Digital Officer, Bank of Cyprus

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Demetris Nicolaou joined the bank in 2017 to lead its Digital Transformation Programme – an ambitious 3-year initiative to kick-start the bank’s digital capabilities. As part of this, they have modernised large parts of their technology stack, revamped their digital channels and positioned the bank very competitively for the years to come.

“I am the Chief Digital Officer for the Bank of Cyprus. I am responsible for the Bank’s Digital Channels, the Digital Economy Platform “Jinius,” which is an ambitious new initiative that goes “Beyond Banking,” as well as the delivery of the Digital Transformation initiatives. I joined Bank of Cyprus in 2017 as Manager Digital Transformation to oversee the delivery of the Bank’s Digital Transformation programme.
Prior to joining Bank of Cyprus, I held various technology roles in the financial sector in the United Kingdom. I worked for UBS Investment Bank from 2007 to 2012 and then moved to Citibank from 2012 until 2016 where I most recently was a Senior Vice President as the Global Head of Futures eTrading Technology. Upon my return to Cyprus, I took the role of Chief Product Development Officer at FxPro Financial Services. I hold a BEng in Computing from Imperial College London and I am also a CFA Charterholder.”

Please provide a brief business description, summarising what your organisation does, its purpose, and what makes it unique.
“Bank of Cyprus is the leading bank in Cyprus providing retail, corporate, investment and private banking services. Our vision is to create lifelong partnerships with our customers guiding and supporting through the most important events of their lives as well as through their daily needs.
What makes us unique is that we invest capital and effort to ensure that our services are provided by top quality professionals at the cutting edge of technology and with sound and ethical practices. We are not only a systemic bank driving growth and shareholder value but also a key driver of progress in our community.”

As an individual with a pioneering role, how have you played a key part in bringing about change, and how are these changes enhancing your potential for future growth?
“I joined the bank in 2017 to lead our Digital Transformation Programme – an ambitious 3-year initiative to kick-start our digital capabilities. As part of this, we have modernised large parts of our technology stack, revamped our digital channels and positioned the bank very competitively for the years to come. The programme was completed at the end of 2020, and we are now leveraging our leading digital capabilities to serve our customers and the economy.
The foundations that we put in place with the Digital Transformation Programme, have also enabled the bank to look beyond banking with an ambitious new venture, the Digital Economy Platform Jinius. Jinius aims to support the Digital Economy of the country, by facilitating transactions between companies (B2B) as well as companies and consumers (B2C). This is enabled through a variety of services ranging from electronic invoicing, remittance management and invoice payments to a corporate directory. This will be further enhanced through numerous additional services based on our multi-year strategy.”

As a pioneer, you are bringing a unique take to a product or service. Tell us about the products and services your organisation has introduced that will unlock heightened levels of consumer value.
“Our motto at Bank of Cyprus is to be next to our customers and associates at every step they take. Since 2017, when we started our digital transformation journey, we have revolutionised the country’s financial sector with innovative, easy to use and secure products that were immediately embraced by our customers. We relaunched our mobile app, we introduced numerous contactless payment solutions (Apple Pay, BOC Wallet, Garmin Pay and Fitbit Pay) and the well-known QuickPay service. We now also offer our customers a suite of financial management tools called MoneyFit, the ability to purchase insurance products and deposit cheques through our Mobile App. Moreover, we were the first bank in Cyprus to offer a truly digital customer onboarding process.”

The pioneering leader reminds us that innovation does not happen without active exploration. Does careful planning have its place and its rewards, or is bold action sometimes necessary?
“For organisations of our scale that are also systemically important for the country, strategy and planning are vital. Our work is always based on a specific plan and timeline, but we also do recognise that on occasion, in our efforts to respond to customer feedback, bold actions can complement these plans.
We execute strategic decisions with bold action and enhanced commitment, which may explain why we are always one step ahead of the competition.”

What does it mean to be a pioneer in your industry, today?
“As mentioned earlier, I joined Bank of Cyprus in 2017. During these five years, the technological revolution has profoundly impacted production patterns, working conditions, and even lifestyle. Taking on the role of Chief Digital Officer of an organisation with almost 700.000 customers is an enormous responsibility. Most internal and external satisfaction surveys show that we are the leaders on various topics. What is more, Bank of Cyprus was recently named by Euromoney Magazine, as “Best Bank in Cyprus,” a very important distinction for us. We are constantly striving to improve our performance and be the undisputed choice for every potential customer and associate.”

How are your pioneering efforts preparing your company for a future that is more sustainable?
“Our Digital Transformation initiatives have introduced several operational efficiencies leading to a decrease of paper and energy usage, ultimately leading to a reduction in our carbon footprint. These were amongst the factors that enabled the bank to receive a rating of AA (on a scale of AAA-CCC) in the MSCI ESG Ratings Assessment in 2022.
Looking into the future, we not only aim to improve our own sustainability through our ESG initiatives and green products, but also the sustainability of the overall economy. Numerous invoices and payments are already being exchanged through our Jinius platform, reducing paper in the economy, and leading to a more sustainable future for the country.”

What factors, in your opinion, influence pioneering advantage of organisations?
“Being the first mover in your sector is crucial for any firm in today’s evolving landscape.
Typically, pioneers outperform followers. However, pioneering is not enough. There is always a risk of complacency, especially when competition is fierce. At Bank of Cyprus, we are always rigorous and the ones who set the pace. At a more practical level, a combination of inclusive and transparent strategy with solid implementation procedures generates the anticipated results and creates long-term resilience.”

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