Hellenic Bank Open API

Oh. My. God.  The future is here.  Hellenic Bank is (finally!) introducing an API.  Not sure yet what exactly one would be able to do with it, but even if it’s just to check an account balance, it’s progress already.

I vaguely remember being part of the effort to convince Hellenic Bank (or any Cyprus bank for that matter) to provide an API to my then employer … erm … about 10 years ago.  The effort was beyond describable at the time.  But I knew the day would come, and it’s finally here.

These are probably the biggest technology news since the time PrimeTel became an ISP with its own submarine cables.

But the procedure, Sir …

I just had the most retarded conversation with Hellenic Bank, which usually is quite understanding and cool, but in the last couple of month freaked me out a couple of times.  The situation is simple and complex at the same time.  I had a prepaid card (P-Card) on my name, connected to my account.  I gave it to my father so he could withdraw some money from the ATM in Russia.  This worked nicely quite a few times, until today there was a situation with a wrong PIN.  The bank in Russia was willing to sort it out, if only they could speak in Russian with some sort of bank representative.  So, I called the bank support line, and here is what transpired.

Support: Hello, sir, how can I help you?
Me: Hello.  I have a rather tricky situation and I need your help with it.  I have a prepaid card on my name, which I gave to my father to withdraw money.  He is in Russia currently, and he all of a sudden got an “invalid pin” error, even though it’s the same PIN that worked several times before.
Support: OK, can I have the card number please.
Me: Yes, sure, it’s 4173*********.
Support: Can I have your name please.
Me: Yes, sure, Leonid Mamchenkov.
Support: It was an incorrect PIN, sir.
Me: Yes, I know, the system said so.  But first of all, it wasn’t, and secondly, what can we do about it?
Support: Is your friend still holding a card?
Me: First of all, it’s not a friend. It’s my father. Secondly, no, it was taken by the ATM.  However the bank in Russia is willing to return the card if they can verify the identity of the holder and such.  Do you have any Russian-speaking support or branch or something?
Support: The policy is that the other bank does not have to return the card.  They will send it back to Hellenic Bank to get destroyed.
Me: I understand, however that would mean quite a huge delay in time for the transaction, not to mention an inconvenience.  Is there something we can do here?
Support: No, the policy says …
Me: Yes, I understand what the policy says.  But the situation seems solvable.  All you need to do is verify my identity and speak with the Russian bank, who will call some number of yours.  This way we can avoid a lot of …
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: What do you mean?
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: Listen, the prepaid card is connected to my account. It’s in my name. I’ve been a client of the bank for years now.  You can ask me any question in regards to that account, I will be able to answer – current balance, address, date of birth, the ID card number, anything.
Support: We cannot verify your identity, Sir.
Me: Can you please connect me to your supervisor then.
Support: I am the supervisor, Sir.
Me: And you cannot verify my identity?  You don’t have the procedure for that?
Support: No, Sir.  The procedure for this case is that the card is being destroyed.
Me: OK. Can I have the money from that prepaid card then?
Support: Sure. You can go to your branch and ask for the money.
Me: OK, thanks. Then I’ll do that tomorrow and will use Western Union or some other money transfer service.  And you can follow your procedure further on.  Well done. Good bye.
Support: Good bye, Sir.

Yeah, well.  And then we wonder what happened to the economy.  How freaking difficult is it to verify my identity and then speak to a bank in Russia.  And that’s when Russian IS one of the three language choices on the same support number that I just called, and not only – Hellenic Bank does have representation in Russia too.  I guess it’s just much simpler to say that we have a procedure that allows us not to give a crap about your problem.


Hellenic Bank updates interface, adds mobile banking

A couple of weeks ago Hellenic Bank clients received a notification through their bank mail that the web interface is about to be updated.  The update was schedule for September 3rd, but I guess it didn’t go as smooth as expected.  For the last two weeks the web banking was slow, unstable, and unavailable at times.  Today I finally managed to login and experience the new interface.  Here are the before and after screenshots for you to compare.

The new interface is far from perfect, but it is a vast improvement over the old one.   I’ve also noticed a banner advertising the mobile banking.  That sounded totally like a dream.  It’s hard to believe that Hellenic Bank even knows what a mobile banking is, let alone is capable of implementing one. I immediately decided to check it out – after all it was as simple as navigating to a mobile version of the website.  I tried to log into it, but was constantly thrown into a blank white page.  Not very surprising, but I am willing to give them time.  Given that there web site is still shaky, I doubt they have time to look at the mobile version of it as well.