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Latest information about 7th Annual Product Development Excellence in Banking Summit



Director – Global Commercial Cards Product Owner

Questions For Sergio Ortega

What is the biggest challenge banking is facing in terms of product development nowadays?

One of the biggest challenges the banking sector is facing is how to effectively move from a waterfall mind-set where you had “certainties” – for instance once a year budget allocation, stable product and development teams – to a very “uncertain” environment where the strategies and the resources have to constantly adapt to an unknown environment.

BBVA started several years ago with the adoption of agile and design thinking methodologies and it has proven to be a great success, even more so in the context of COVID-19. We have been able to allocate resources to the most strategic projects and products thanks to our quarterly planning process and bi-weekly performance reviews.

What are the main regulatory approaches in design and distribution of banking products?

Customers request similar user experience and journeys regardless of where they are based or where they are using an application. FinTechs have successfully managed to provide this.

However, when it comes to banks, personal and enterprise data regulation is very strict and it should be homogeneously regulated in all countries in order to effectively compete with other digital players. Unfortunately, each country has different regulations which makes it harder.

What does the future hold for product development?

Product development evolution, from waterfall with annual releases to agile with MVPs (minimum viable product) every two to four weeks is going to speed up. The challenge is how to balance more product and services launches while maintaining the expected quality and security. As banks, we cannot allow one of our products or services to have reliability or fraud issues.

Sergio Ortega is responsible for BBVA’s global commercial cards solution development enabling local, regional and global enterprises to homogeneously manage the expenses made with commercial cards in BBVA footprint (Europe, LAC & USA). Sergio has 15 years of experience in Payments Systems, first in BBVA Spain (consumer issuing, acquiring and innovation) and since 2012 in global positions focused on commercial cards. He is leading BBVA’s global commercial cards solution business line development from scratch following design thinking & agile methodologies, coordinating cross-functional local, global, business & IT teams. Sergio has a Master Degree in Computer Science from Deusto University (Spain) and Aalborg University (Denmark). He also has an Executive MBA from Esade Business School (Spain).


Head of Products, Processes and Planning

Questions For David Vadnal

Are today’s corporate banking products fit for the modern world?

If we look at the developments during the recent years we can clearly see that digitalisation and innovation have not only arrived and played a huge role in retail banking but have also spread more and more into the corporate banking world.

In the area of trade finance for example where digital trade platforms are being built in order to facilitate the processes e.g. in supply chain finance and consequently improve TTY (time to yes) and TTC (time to cash). Also blockchain has arrived in corporate banking, where this technology is for example being used in order to “revolutionise” the handling and exchange of documents in trade transactions as well as for improving the security level, thereby making fraud and falsification of documents more and more difficult. In the area of payments services and cash management serious steps have been undertaken in order to improve usability of systems & applications and help corporate customers to integrate with their own internal applications and software.

Still a large number of traditional banks have been approaching the large corporate segment with mixed “emotions”, a lot of them still being of the opinion that in this segment digitalisation and technology will not play such an important role as they do today in retail banking. We will see how the role of FinTechs in this area will evolve within the next years. Whether they will remain in the role as providers for technical solutions, therefore acting as partners of traditional banks or whether they will also take on the role of competitors, trying to get their share of the cake, as they have done in the area of retail banking.

How to strengthen the awareness of new intelligent banking products?

Well, firstly I would say, we need to distinguish between the awareness within the bank, or more generally speaking within the organisation and the awareness of customers towards new and intelligent banking products or services.

For strengthening the awareness of the customer related to new intelligent banking products, I believe this is part of the marketing and sales campaigns which are used for making the advantages and features of a new product known in the market and raising the customer need to buy or use such products. Besides traditional advertising, today presence on social media channels is of utmost importance and needs to be accompanied by an omnichannel sales concept.

On the other hand, strengthening the awareness for new intelligent banking products within an organisation, which has the vision to develop such products and services, is where I would like to put the focus on, as this is a highly challenging task and I have been personally highly involved in such processes within the recent years.

According to classical product life-cycle management, the products that are part of an organisation’s product portfolio run through different stages of “maturity”, thereby requiring different treatment – in terms of further development/improvement which triggers the need of further investments, in terms of differentiation, meaning adding features which will enable the organisation to create a value added for the customer compared to competitor products and further on.

Knowing that a new product or a radical product innovation has to compete for resources with other established products in the organisation, it is highly important in an established business to create so called “safe havens” for new innovative products which are still in their “children’s shoes”. Therefore, bottom-up or top-down strategies need to be developed, which will result in the creation of awareness for the “new intelligent banking products”. Subsequently projects for identifying and developing such potential new products and services need to be given time and resources from the beginning on, and have to be clearly separated from the established ones. Organisations therefore shall separate resources for established products, growing and developing products and future products which are just about starting to be created. Only at a more mature stage, such new product innovations shall be measured against other more mature ones and start competing for resources according to business potential. Otherwise new ideas for innovations will not have enough time and attention in order to grow and prosper.

As Head of Products, Processes and Planning at Sberbank Europe, David has been leading the development and implementation of the corporate banking products and processes, thereby fostering the fast formation of the corporate banking activities in Austria starting from scratch.

David joined Sberbank Europe in 2007 and was in his first years responsible for the management of the network banks in Eastern Europe as Country Manager. He held positions as Chairman and Member of the Supervisory Board of several network banks and contributed to their successful growth before moving to Product Management function. David lives close to Vienna, is married, has two children and holds a master degree in Economics and Business Administration.


Head of Strategic Product Sales (POS) / Senior Manager

Questions For László Kiss

What do you see as the biggest challenge or limitation of AI technology in regard to the sales process?

The conceptual biggest challenge is to understand the COVID-19 situation (and the possible impact of COVID-19 2nd round) and its opportunity for our business line (for instance, more sustainability – ecosystems – instead of too much product or service focus, better knowledge on the customer insights). I believe that we face a new strategic inflexion point in the payment industry and the implementation of cutting-edge tools can create sustainable business flow with deep customer satisfaction.
If I turn onto the latest technologies, then the biggest challenge to use cutting-edge technologies like AI (incl. machine learning) or robots is our existing and new customers and their tolerance level to accept and to absorb the latest technology. In my opinion, we have to be careful regarding the implementation phase, and step by step gives the newest technology for a broader range of our clients. The AI (incl. machine learning) can help to boost your sales script, but its limitation is that it can be too “machine-like”. I mean, its proposal can be far from reality. If you accept this limitation and cross-check what is proposed to you, you are responsible for the fine-tuning process of sales scripts. In our Sales organisation, we have the Script Committee, where we analyse and suggest new texts for our sales team thanks to the continuous client’s feedback loop.
The most significant limitation of AI (incl. machine learning) is that it is not human currently, and the tolerance level of the B2C segment is low but with a positive outlook. The personal interaction is needed the B2B. We can allocate more time for our key partners through using technologies. It is the vital essence of partner management.

What still needs to be done to fully implement AI to the sales process? What do you wish would be enhanced in the near future?

The near future is a fine-tuning question regarding used technologies. After the first COVID-19 crisis and preparing for the next disaster, first of all, we have to analyse (data-driven solutions and data visualisation) our client’s economic conditions and their growth strategies post-COVID-19 (based on customer insights as input for further analysis). When we understand deeply what our clients want, then we can answer the new challenges of our clients based on their customer insights.
In my view, we have to save the time of our customers to use technologies and leave them to focus on core activity, instead of the banking process. It is the background of the customer-centric behaviour.

What is the number one benefit the robo-advisors bring to sales process?

The crucial benefit of the robo-advisors is their speeds because they can analyse as fast as possible the client’s needs, and according to the client’s characteristics, they send an offer to the clients (Phase 1). When the clients accepted our offer than the robo-advisor (RPA) can send the contract to them (Phase 2). The (offer and contract sending) processing capacity of robo-advisors is significantly higher than human beings; therefore, the customer journey is much enjoyable because our response time is immediate. Our clients feel important, and they do not lose time with decision-making because they have all the necessary information to bring their decision and to choose our ecosystem. If robo-advisors realise any gap within the process (it is not able to send standard offer to the clients because she/he has risky activity), then it sends it towards to payment excellence team who manage the special client needs forward. Robo-advisor informs the clients that we will send our offer within two days.

László KISS is the Head of Strategic Product Sales (Merchant acquiring – POS) / Senior Manager and has been working for OTP Bank Plc since 2016. Primary focus on Merchant Acquisition related to Bank Card Acceptance. Previously, he worked in the Hungarian banking sector in different Controlling and Sales leader positions (at UniCredit, Raiffeisen and AXA Bank where he worked in AXA Belgium, as well). Currently, he participates at an International double-degree Executive MBA programme managed by SEED and the Maastricht School of Management (the Netherlands). Besides, he has been very active in the area of merchant acquiring in Hungary and the Group countries since 2018. “Our strategy has been changed. We are digitalising and thinking about cross borders, creating our future and searching for new & dynamic solutions. Our powerful & influential team works day over day to fit for expectations of our existing and new clients, to support their strategy and as Business Partner to help reach their business goals. We believe that we are the ONE.”
His current focus is on selling established payment innovations from global world to the CEE region, along with his ongoing tasks of improving and strengthening the market position and strategy of OTP customers in Hungary and out of Hungary, as well.


Chief Product Owner APIs
Danske Bank

Questions For John Bustamante Madsen

What is the biggest challenge in making sure your product portfolio outperforms those offered by the competition?

One of the biggest challenges is speed to market. During the last decade it has become apparent that companies being first with digital user-friendly financial services get the lion’s share of the market. The biggest time robbers of product development is getting access to data and functionality from other business domains, especially if there is integration between different technology platforms (e.g. mainframe and cloud). This can easily delay features up to several months and therefore incumbent banks need to modernise their existing platforms and build Enterprise APIs. Join my talk on “Developing Sustainable Enterprise APIs with a Product
Mind-Set” to hear what we are doing in this field in Danske Bank.

Are today´s retail banking products fit for the modern world?

While the current retail banking products are good, they do not suffice in the digital era where banks no longer control nor own the customer interface. With regulations such as Open Banking and PSD2 that forces banks to open our their services, and FinTechs taking vertical slices of the banking propositions banks will need to rethink their product offerings and offer them in multiple customer journeys, and not just in their own channels.

Another important aspect will be to embed artificial intelligence in banking retail products. Implementing machine learning to offer customer tailored products based on their needs and credit will be one of the next frontiers – which BigTechs are already leveraging.

John has been with Danske Bank since 2015 and he is currently responsible for Lead Domain Driven Design & Isolation and drives roll-out of Domain Driven Design in Danske Bank. Previously he had been responsible for Lead Enterprise Architect delivering Digital Strategy and IT strategy with various Enterprise Architecture assignments and had been a product owner for APIs, Business Events and Cloud on Customer Information Platform. He has prior experience from Accenture working with Software Development, BPM, Enterprise Architecture and IT strategy. His interest is in optimising the IT organisation to deliver on the overall business strategy by having the right IT strategy, IT governance, enterprise architecture and operating model.


Managing Director, Head of Global Trade Products
Lloyds Banking Group

Questions For Bhavna Saraf

What is the biggest challenge you are facing in terms of product development nowadays?

The biggest challenge in product development is the agility of embracing new technology and/or vendors required to bring new solutions to market. The governance and processes in most banks are too bureaucratic which stifles enthusiasm and causes frustration. At Lloyds, we have developed a short 6 week on-boarding process to do a Proof of Concept before we take a decision on progressing on a full-scale basis.

How to efficiently collect data from your customers to create the right products to fit their needs?

Client-centricity is at the heart of all we do. At Lloyds, we always ask ourselves the question, what is the client’s problem we are looking to solve. So, client validation becomes the key. We have found client workshops very helpful. Co-creating solutions with clients ensures that we validate our hypotheses and assumptions in relation to solutions we are developing. It also provides an immediate feedback loop. And this engagement does not stop at an initial workshop, any iterative improvements go through a continuous engagement with clients. Even during COVID-19, we held virtual client sessions to get feedback on various new capabilities in pipeline.

Where do you see the future of development concepts and product management?


  • I see more partnerships taking place between banks and FinTech, as banks outsource process-driven part of the equation to tech vendors.
  • I see usual banking industry morph into a network of interoperable ecosystems.


  • Data will play a key role in driving insight-driven strategies.
  • Solutions that provided visibility and proactively call out risks in a business operating model with suggestions towards their remediation will gain favour with clients, coupled of course with easy access to liquidity

Channels & Digitisation

  • Use of APIs and blockchain will increase as clients seek multichannel avenues of doing business, and an increased use of technology and move to digitisation.

Co-Creation with Users

  • I see an increase in experimentation and proof of concepts within product management.
  • I see co-creation with clients becoming a norm.
  • I see user experience a real differentiator as banks compete on commoditised products.
  • I see B2C/Retail user experiences and concepts being brought into corporate banking interactions with clients.
  • I see client perception changing as well, where they do not see banks as necessarily both a solution provider and a solution fulfilment entity. Clients would be happy for a bank to arrange a solution even though it could be a fulfilled by a third party i.e. a FinTech.


  • I see sustainability as a key corner stone of solutions being developed.

Bhavna Saraf is the Head of Trade Product at Lloyds Banking Group. After starting under HSBC’s Graduate programme and a brief stint at Rabobank, she spent most of her banking career at Citi, prior to joining Lloyds. A successful career in banking has allowed her to take up leadership roles in product management, sales, developing inorganic partnerships and people management.  Some of the roles in her career that she has enjoyed the most revolve around building something from the ground up. At Lloyds, she leads the team that drives the strategy and development of trade solutions designed to meet the domestic and international working capital needs of companies. Bhavna harbours a real passion for finding better, frictionless, and sustainable outcomes for clients through use of technology and believes, if the current crisis has taught us anything, it is that we must seek ‘digital first’ strategies to ensure business continuity for clients we serve. With that in mind and desire to shape future of Trade, she is actively engaged with and represents Lloyds at BAFT, ICC, ITFA, SWIFT and UK Finance under various initiatives. Besides her day-job, she has been a founder of a start-up, which she progressed to Seed 3 Funding and is a champion of Diversity & Inclusion.

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