Can a Bank Disrupt the Retail Industry: Webinar Recap

Amir Tabakovic, Head of Market Development at Switzerland’s most innovative bank, PostFinance, joined us to talk about how PostFinance has its sights set on disrupting the retail industry.

Before digging down into how PostFinance moved into the digital retail arena, Amir gave us a bit of background about PostFinance and how the consumption of digital goods has changed in the last decade. He made the point that it was Apple’s release of iTunes that radically changed the music and media industries, making Apple the world’s largest distributor of digital content. Apple was the first to recognize the potential value in digital goods and market growth in the area.


The digital shift we have seen in more recent years has opened up the space even further. Amir then identified the key market players active in the digital goods market, which included streaming platforms, online gaming and gaming console platforms, software manufacturers, and cash to online players. He then moved on to address the traditional retailers of gift cards, which are retail stores, machines, and kiosks, in Switzerland today.

Taking a step back in time, Amir spoke about PostFinance’s history of innovation in this area, which stretches back to a partnership with Swisscom Mobile in 2002. Together they offered holders of NATEL, a prepaid phone card product, to top up their credit via PostFinance ATMs. It was a huge success and PostFinance continued to innovate in the area. In 2011 PostFinance decided to focus even more on the digital goods market.

After a careful analysis PostFinance decided to zero in on digital gift cards as the niche they would exploit. The big question was, would their efforts to play the role of merchant pay off for the bank? To be successful it would mean they had to transform the digital goods purchase model by eliminating the retailer all together:


PostFinance realized they would have to offer their customers a great value proposition by making it easier to get gift cards from PostFinance than anywhere else, and at the same time attract partners, who would benefit from PostFinance’s large customer base. Amir went on to explain how PostFinance approached the idea of eliminating the traditional plastic gift card all together. He showed a video demonstrating how the PostFinance app, made in partnership with Apple, revolutionized the gift card – and at the same time, turned a bank into a retailer. Not wanting to bore the audience with too much technical jargon, Amir briefly explained how the app worked with this slide:


Amir finished up by talking about how PostFinance promoted the app, rolling out new campaigns to promote new partnerships, which include Apple, Sony Playstation, and Xbox. To date, over 500,000 purchases have been made via the PostFinance app. Beyond gift cards, PostFinance is using the app technology to boost customer engagement and loyalty. They recently ‘gifted’ their app customers with a free song, creating an entirely new form of brand marketing for the bank and opening up a whole new world of potential collaborations and partnerships.

Backbase’s CEO Jouk Pleiter also gave a brief presentation, talking about technological disruption in banking. He began by discussing the outside-in paradigm shift that is challenging banks to become more customer-centric, and how technology can help banks achieve this. Jouk applauded PostFinance, a Backbase client, for their very successful efforts at creating customer-centric experiences.

He also shared how Backbase has helped PostFinance achieve their goals as they undergo a complete digital transformation, using Backbase technology and a widget-based approach to create a fully customizable digital banking experience for their customers.


Jouk summed up by sharing the vision and product model that has made it possible for Backbase to help some of the largest banks around the world create highly innovative, customer-centric digital experiences. He also introduced two new Backbase innovations, Backbase Engage and Backbase Open Marketplace, which were launched at Finovate this year.

The webinar ended with a lively Q&A session. If you’d like to see the full webinar recording, visit our YouTube channel.

If you’d just like to get the slides, you’ll find Amir’s here, and Jouk’s here.