Greek credit sector is healthier and thriving on technology

TAGS: Banking, Economy

Just 26 percent of banking transactions in Greece are carried out at bank branches today, against a backdrop of growing confidence in the local credit sector, which itself is experiencing increasing strength and progress, delegates at the Delphi Economic Forum’s session on banking said on Thursday.

Greek lenders have seen a major transformation in the last few years, both in terms of the necessary reorganization and recapitalization that has seen them survive the financial crisis, and their shift in favor of technological solutions, according to Nikos Karamouzis, the chairman of Eurobank and the Hellenic Bank Association.

Karamouzis specifically referred to the penetration of online transactions in Greece, saying that only 26 percent of all transactions are now conducted at bank branches.

He further noted that Greek lenders have recorded notable gains before provisions, amounting to some 4 billion euros, which over a three-year period have created a liquidity safety cushion of 12 billion euros.

Former Bank of Greece governor and current head of Postbank in Bulgaria George Provopoulos stressed the necessity for structural changes to continue and warned against reform fatigue. He also called for the further convergence of European economies.

Piraeus Bank chief executive officer Christos Megalou said Greek banks are facing a positive macroeconomic environment for the first time in recent years, with an increase in gross domestic product in 2017 after zero growth in the previous three years. He described the issue of bonds by banks last year for the first time since 2014 as a landmark, while the economic sentiment and manufacturing (PMI) indices have shown considerable improvement.

Megalou further welcomed the fact that scheduled online auctions were successfully completed for the first time on Wednesday, signaling an improvement in credit culture in Greece.

Antonis Ntatzopoulos, the chairman of the Hellenic Bankers Association UK, said the investment community is waiting for the Greek economy’s new framework after the completion of the bailout program, as Greece is “an interesting market” for investors. He also noted that fears of a Greek exit from the eurozone have been minimized and that investors believe Greece will adopt the model followed in Cyprus and Portugal.