Photo: Courtesy of Ivan Smiljković

Saving energy, sustainable use of natural resources, less waste and reduction of harmful gas emissions are some of the clearly defined and planned goals of ProCredit Bank. They firmly adhere to internal approaches to environmental protection, and they pass their excellent practice on to clients. We spoke with Ivan Smiljković, a member of the Executive Board of ProCredit Bank.

Q. ProCredit Bank is moving towards being carbon neutral in the future. How do you plan to achieve this? 

A. ProCredit Bank has been building a systematic environmental protection approach for over a decade. The first steps were taken in 2012 when we defined procedures regarding environmental protection in our business. Both internally and externally, we continuously monitor our impact on the environment. We really try to take a holistic approach and cover all ESG aspects. To reduce CO2 emissions, ProCredit Serbia defined replacing conventional official vehicles with electric and low-emission hybrid cars as one of the measures. Today, our fleet is one hundred per cent green—it consists of a total of 44 such vehicles. It is important to point out that ProCredit Serbia has set up a network of more than 40 chargers for electric cars across the country, which citizens can use completely free of charge. We believe that in this way, we are working to develop awareness about reducing harmful emissions. ProCredit Group joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and is committed to setting short term and long-term goals for reducing emissions. I am very proud of that fact.

Q. How does ProCredit Bank help clients improve environmental awareness, make it easier to decide on sustainable and green investments and implement them in their business and everyday life?

A. We strategically invest in renewable energy sources; we have professional people and excellent expertise in that domain, especially in solar power plants. We financed the construction of several large solar power plants in Serbia, and I would single out the largest DeLasol in Lapovo, with a total power of 10 MW. But we don’t only finance economic subjects. We also have incentive loans for energy efficiency intended for the population, with a return on investment of up to 20 per cent, in cooperation with the GEFF and the EBRD. This way, you can secure funds for a home solar energy plant, a heat pump, new PVC joinery, insulation, solar water heaters and more. In addition to providing funds, the bank also has an advisory role— the client can completely rely on us because we usually work on a turnkey model. 


Q. We hear the term green finance more and more often. What are the advantages of this type of financing, and how significant are they for ProCredit Bank?

A. No bank should claim to be green if it does not monitor environmental impacts on the external level, which means through the standards related to lending to clients. Those standards are detailed in ProCredit; they have been developed for years and follow the development of the markets in which all banks from our Group operate. ProCredit Serbia very resolutely implements the green agenda—the share of the green portfolio in the total loan portfolio of the bank in Serbia is slightly more than 15 per cent, while at the level of the ProCredit Group, the share of the green portfolio last year amounted to 20.2 per cent. We have set even more ambitious goals for the years ahead—to significantly increase investment in sustainable and green projects in Serbia with favorable and incentive credit lines.

Q. What novelties is ProCredit Bank preparing for the next period? In which segments do you plan to improve your business?

A. Relying on 20 years of experience from the headquarters in Germany, we have been an innovative bank in Serbia for years. We became the first to become a 100 per cent online bank, opened Zone 24/7, were the first to enable clients to pay their bills via Apple and Google Pay, and were the first to start promoting green financing. In addition, we always see room to be even closer to clients, listening to their needs. Since we have noticed that interest in term savings has been growing lately, we have provided attractive interest rates for term deposits. We will soon launch a redesigned and improved e-banking and m-banking application, and we have enabled customers who have online shops to pay via the ProCredit e-commerce platform. We strive to be a true green bank and a leader in digitization. We continue to set standards in the financial sector in which we operate. 

Interviewed by: Milica Radičević

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine ELECTROMOBILITY.