From a technical point of view, it was the first line of code written on July 17, 2012. Emotionally – and of course in terms of importance – it was the birthday of George, our reliable companion for 9 years now. George has outgrown his infancy and has become the largest cross-border banking platform in Central and Eastern Europe, helping 7 million customers in 6 countries to manage their own finances in a personal and unique way.
How it began …
It all started in an office in Vienna’s 1st district. Divided into several rooms grouped around a large communal kitchen, 20 employees tinkered with George and implemented or discarded creative ideas. The kitchen with its huge tables and benches was the centre of activity where the real action happened and the best ideas were born. This equipment has also accompanied us into the new building – the Erste Campus – and still serves the purpose of jointly developing strategies to further expand and constantly improve George. The move was necessary because George has grown steadily, and with it our number of employees, which now amounts to around 400 people in total.
Tradition vs. the New
George was born into a traditional banking house with a long history, and did not always have an easy time winning people over. Not only users, but especially bankers had to learn how to move with the times. In order to leave the traditional paths, it was important from the very beginning to allow fresh competences from outside and to attract creative talents to breathe fresh life into the dusty banking image and to drive change.
It is clear that this can not always happen without some setbacks. Ideas were born, tested, discarded, brought out of the drawers again and possibly revived or buried for good. It’s part of the process to allow for failure. Because only in this way we dare to tackle things that others condemn to failure from the very beginning. True to the motto: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was and is a matter for George that the users are also involved in this process. Because they know best what they need and how George can make their lives easier.
„If George was a human, in 2021 he would be reaching his maturity. George is not a cute little challenger anymore. George became the digital face of Erste Group when digital experiences are the primary interactions for many customers. So, I wish George to his birthday to be a mature, cool and confident banking platform with high ambitions. Of course without losing his core attitude: being friendly, easy to use, personal, intelligent and unique.“
What the future brings
Nowadays, every company wants to have its finger on the pulse. As a result, innovation is increasingly in the spotlight. Everything has to be innovative, new and fresh. But that doesn’t mean that everything promised is really innovative. Normal changes that are necessary and that time brings with it are also sold as innovations, and that’s why this word often degenerates into an empty shell.
To prevent the same thing from happening to us, George has not only become a centralised software, but a platform that enables all Erste Group banks and external providers to improve the banking experience for all customers, no matter whether being a freelancer, employee, entrepreneur or managing director. George is there for everyone and adapts to the respective needs. As with George Pro, the plug-in for private individuals with big plans as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. And with George Business, we set new standards in business banking.
Financial health is also a topic not to be forgotten. For George has a responsibility and the mission to support and improve the personal financial life of our customers.
We are ready to take the challenge
To keep celebrating many birthdays with George, we continue to improve and add new services and features that make life easier and the overall experience even better. To achieve this, we bring together creative minds from a wide range of fields, keeping in mind the needs of those who use George. We will ask ourselves the question every day: “What exactly is the problem for which we are looking for answers?“. So that modern banking really fulfils what it promises with George who is no longer the youngest, but who is far from being out of date.
Happy Birthday and cheers to you, George!