Case study

Salt Bank

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Project year:

2023

Bank type:

Digital Greenfield

Segment:

Retail

Geography:

Romania

Time to launch:

<12 months

Salt Bank is based in Bucharest, Romania and is a subsidiary of Banca Transilvania, the largest bank in Southeastern Europe.

The Salt team had a bold vision for a better, smarter way for Romanian customers to bank with digital-native, mobile-first experiences. They wanted to truly disrupt the Romanian banking market and put the customer at the heart of their offering, combining the innovation and agility offered by modern fintech with the safety and security of being a licensed, regulated bank.

By partnering with Engine, Salt has successfully brought its digital banking vision to life with the launch of its app in April 2024 which already had 80,000 pre-enrolled customers thanks to an early adopter program.

“We have strong ambitions to disrupt the banking market in Romania by offering customers simple and seamless digital experiences.”

Gabriela Nistor

CEO of Salt Bank

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Salt Bank’s mobile app home screen designed to help customers easily manage their money.

Banking, as you want it.

Our journey with Salt began when Gabriela Nistor, the bank’s CEO, and management team came to London to meet with us.

Starling Bank’s story in the UK was a key topic of conversation, with the Salt team wanting to get under the hood of how the bank had achieved success. Starling is a pioneer in the digital banking world, launched in 2014 with a mission to change banking for good, it is now a highly profitable bank and was one of the first mobile-only banks built entirely in the cloud and on its own proprietary technology - Engine. Starling now has over 4 million accounts in the UK that it can service cost effectively and at scale while achieving consistently high customer satisfaction scores. Much of Starling’s success comes from its technology, and Engine is the business tasked with taking that core banking technology to other banks around the world.

When Gabriela and team discussed their ambitions and goals for Salt the parallels were clear. Engine had the right technology platform and approach that they needed and the real-world experience of building and running a successful digital bank. Both teams were motivated with a real belief and shared vision for what could be achieved for the Romanian market and project implementation started in March/April 2023.

Fast forward 12 months, Salt is now Engine’s first client to go live and a deep relationship has been built on trust and a mutual understanding that solutions must enhance customers’ lives and empower their everyday banking needs.

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Features like saving spaces are available for customers to separate their money into different pots.

“Engine provides a best-in-class platform that fits into our digital strategy and we were impressed by Engine’s success with Starling Bank in the UK.”

Gabriela Nistor

CEO of Salt Bank

Seamless digital experiences.

Salt had a clear vision for the bank and wanted to achieve its ambitions within a 12 month project timeline. This included a mobile banking app and the back office capabilities and integrations needed to run the bank. On launch, Salt is able to offer an impressive product and feature set for customers.

Engine was selected as Salt’s core banking provider, tasked with delivering the cloud-native platform that would allow the bank to stand up their new digital proposition and customer experience. We worked closely with Salt’s team of in-house experts from the discovery stage of the project right the way through to delivery. We localised and configured the platform to meet regulatory and market requirements, while employing collaborative processes, such as embedding our team in Bucharest, to ensure rapid and efficient product testing and deployment, real-time decision making and effective planning through each phase of the project.

At launch, Salt offers transaction accounts in local and 16 foreign currencies for retail customers with automated digital onboarding supported by a manual review workflow in Engine for marginal cases. Customers have access to innovative, self-serve banking features like saving spaces, spending insights, card controls, and Apple and Google Pay in-app provisioning. This is as well as Mastercard Platinum debit cards which offer a secure, seamless and trusted payment experience. These cards are available for early adopters, or as Salt calls them ‘Founders,’ and unlock special benefits such as travel insurance for Founders and their families and local airport lounge access.

Much like Starling Bank, Salt has also chosen to retain human touchpoints for customer service, with 24/7 support available via real agents in a dedicated Care Centre leveraging Engine’s contact centre capability and single customer view.

For launch, Salt employed a pre-enrollment program for customers to gain early access as Founders with 80,000 enrolled before public launch. This has helped propel Salt to being the top finance app listed on Apple and Google Play stores in Romania.

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Salt’s early adopters will receive Mastercard Platinum debit cards.

Operational excellence.

From the customer experience to the back office, Salt has also put the employee experience at the heart of the new bank. They wanted to give the teams running operations, from financial crime and customer support to payment and card operations, the best possible processes and workflows that would empower them in their roles and help deliver the service excellence envisioned in an efficient manner.

Salt used Engine’s dedicated Management Portal to achieve this, which provides teams with a single view of the customer. Our platform’s pre-configured modules work in harmony across each functional area and with the mobile workflows on the customer end, meaning Salt can achieve the employee experience they want while observing operational efficiencies and cost savings.

Support is vital in any partnership, and Engine is providing a 24/7 Managed Service to Salt. This involves hosting and environment management, maintenance, incident management, a dedicated Client Service Desk in addition to regular upgrades, and feature and product releases.

Collaborating for success.

It was important to Salt that the bank was cloud-native and so AWS was the cloud provider chosen for the project. Engine has extensive experience working with AWS through the development and running of Starling, and the provider’s proven ability to enhance availability and agility, enable rapid development and maintain high security was essential for Salt’s comprehensive cloud strategy.

Salt also brought in the expertise of the technology consultancy firm GFT as the key implementation partner. We partnered with their engineering and technical teams as well as Salt’s in-house capability to deliver the mobile banking app and the integrations needed to ensure all systems worked seamlessly.

It is an exciting time for Salt and the public launch in April 2024 is an important milestone. Here at Engine, we’re looking forward to working closely with the Salt team over the coming months and years as they achieve their ambitions of providing Romanian customers a smarter way to bank.