Our focus has always been on SMEs, where we have unique skills in the market and branches located in all areas of Romania, where other banks do not reach. We are well positioned in our relationship with our customers in several segments and we see that the bank is appreciated by its customers and they enjoy working with us. We are well positioned in the micro, SME and mid corporate segments, but also in the specialised sectors – medical and agriculture. Some of these will continue to benefit from public investments and European funds. We still have a significant gap with Western Europe in the medical sector – investments are needed and we have the know-how to help customers. In retail banking we have a few areas where we have reached network effects – BT Pay is the banking and payments app with most users in Romania, and STAR is the largest ecosystem of retailers and credit cards.
The geopolitical tensions do not affect Banca Transilavania’s operations, considering that we are not present on the neighbouring market and that the Romanian banking system is not directly exposed to risks associated with the conflict in Ukraine. Of course, there is an impact when it comes to payables and receivables with the Russian Federation, as we must respect EU regulations pertaining to international sanctions but we try to responsibly manage the situation in such a way so that the effect on our customers is minimal. As for risk costs, they will increase, but not necessarily as a direct result of the situation in Ukraine, as there are cumulative recession signals coming from the U.S. and the Euro zone. In line with the requirements of the European Central Bank, credit risk management is a priority for us, together with the governance and the solidity of our business model.
The banks in Southeast Europe (SEE) showed resilience in the pandemic-defined 2020, as their total assets continued to grow. The measures introduced by the authorities to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 spread, however, took a heavy toll on their bottom lines and only a few of the region’s top lenders managed to grow their net profit. Cross-border M&A activity further reshaped the region’s banking landscape as a bunch of big deals were completed in 2020.