Unicredit upgrades mobile banking offering

UniCredit, the Italian banking giant, has announced significant improvements to its mobile banking service, Buddybank. This move is seen as a critical step in facilitating the eventual transition to a cloud-based core banking infrastructure, according to UniCredit’s Chief Executive, Andrea Orcel.

Traditional banks are currently grappling with the challenge of shifting their IT operations to the cloud. They are moving away from mainframe systems whose programming languages are becoming obsolete, making it increasingly difficult to recruit young professionals who can work with such systems.

Buddybank, initially launched by UniCredit in 2018, serves approximately 410,000 users, mainly consisting of newly acquired customers who were not previously banking with UniCredit. In a strategic move, UniCredit will now offer all its clients the option to transition to Buddy R-Evolution, the revamped mobile app that will provide access to all of the bank’s services and products, including features such as lending.

The bank also plans to provide additional services, such as real estate advice. Buddy users will have access to assistance from support staff and advisory services from dedicated bankers.

UniCredit has successfully unified the backend structure that supports traditional commercial banking operations and Buddybank. Orcel stated that the separation between the two banks, which existed until now, has been eliminated.

During the presentation of UniCredit’s third-quarter results, Orcel shared plans to “accelerate on Phase 2 of our digital transformation… moving decisively from on-premises (IT software) to the cloud with a unified and efficient way of hosting all data and applications.”

Despite surpassing quarterly forecasts and raising revenue outlook for the year, UniCredit did not revise its 2023 profit and shareholder distribution guidance. The bank noted that it needed more time to determine how to best utilise its strong profits.

To transition to Buddy R-Evolution, UniCredit customers simply need to download the application, which allows them to access their current accounts without any changes to their bank details. This is a significant departure from rival banks like Intesa Sanpaolo, which recently caused disruptions by shifting younger, digitally-savvy clients to its cloud-based mobile bank, Isybank, leading to changes in bank details.

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