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From Law to Cloud: How Paweł Tymczyszyn is Redefining Banking?

We sit down with Paweł Tymczyszyn, a leading figure in the banking technology sector, to discuss the transformative role of artificial intelligence, the challenges of implementing new technologies in large financial institutions, and the critical importance of cybersecurity in today's digital landscape. Paweł shares his unique career journey, key projects that have shaped customer experiences at Alior Bank, and the essential qualities required for effective leadership in the dynamic world of technology.

Paweł Tymczyszyn

Alior Bank

Vice President of the Management Board - Technology, Legal, and Data Protection Division

Paweł Tymczyszyn is a seasoned technology executive with a multifaceted background in law, IT, and corporate governance. As a member of the management board at Alior Bank, Paweł oversees IT and data security, leveraging his comprehensive experience to drive innovation and operational efficiency.

What technologies do you consider the most groundbreaking for the banking sector in recent years, and why is AI?

I’m somewhat skeptical about the widespread enthusiasm for AI, which is often seen as a solution to every problem. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that AI brings significant changes to the banking sector. My skepticism stems from the observation that despite the availability of new tools, actual business implementations are often limited to particular applications such as process automation or data analysis.

However, there are clear cases where AI truly revolutionizes the industry. For example, the development of automatic hotlines, which, thanks to speech recognition and natural language processing technologies, can serve customers without human intermediaries. This allows banks to respond faster and more efficiently to customer needs.

Our initiative, the automated hotline “In” online,” you,”  uses these technologies to analyze and generate responses in natural language. However, implementing such technology across an organization requires much more than individual projects. To fully leverage all the benefits of AI, integration, and collaboration between various systems and a well-thought-out data strategy are needed.

We decided to move most of our data to the public cloud, creating a cloud data warehouse. This decision addresses not only technological needs but also security issues, as shown by experiences related to the conflict in Ukraine.

AI has enormous potential in the banking sector, but its full utilization depends on a deep understanding of business specifics, system integration, and strategic data management.

Which technology projects have you managed at Alior Bank had the most significant impact on customer experiences?

At Alior Bank, several key technology projects have significantly impacted our customers’ experiences. A groundbreaking endeavor was modernizing our IT infrastructure by introducing the first public cloud in the Polish banking environment—a data warehouse. This allows for integrating various services and platforms, facilitating customer relationship management through the eCRM system and other omnichannel tools.

To achieve this, together with the IT team, we prioritized projects, enabling more effective completion of initiatives that impacted the bank’s operations. Our strategy involved limiting the number of projects but increasing their efficiency through regular quarterly evaluations.

These changes responded to market and regulatory challenges, and their practical implementation allowed Alior Bank to become a more mature, secure, and customer-centric organization.

What are the biggest challenges in implementing new technologies in a large financial institution like Alior Bank?

I think we face the same challenges as the entire sector. These include ensuring compliance with increasingly demanding regulatory expectations, minimizing operational risks (especially in the area of cyber), and increasing efficiency while responsibly expanding digitalization – with AI at the forefront.

A positive aspect, however, is that we have a strong, competent team, a modern IT organization, and proven partnerships with leading digital technology providers. We are aware and humble but strong and ready.

What are the key qualities you believe every technology leader should possess?

My experiences in various technology organizations, including Alior Bank, have shaped my beliefs about what makes a technology leader effective. First and foremost, it is crucial to have confidence and the ability to trust your team. This means delegating responsibility for specialized tasks to competent individuals rather than trying to be omniscient in every field.

One important quality is humility and a desire for continuous learning. Technology changes rapidly, so staying updated with new developments and trends is necessary, which requires openness to new information and a willingness to continually improve. Another quality is the ability to communicate effectively. Regardless of how deep your technical knowledge is, achieving your goals will be difficult if you cannot convey it effectively to your team, colleagues, or the board. A good technology leader must be able to communicate complex concepts in a way that is understandable to all stakeholders.

Project and team management skills are also important. This means overseeing technical work, resolving conflicts, motivating the team, and strategic planning, which is crucial in the proper allocation of resources and development directions of IT departments.

Lastly, the ability to handle uncertainty and constant change is equally important, as this is a constant element of the technology industry. A technology leader must be resilient to stress and adaptable, ready to respond quickly to unexpected challenges and changes in the situation.

A leader should be well-balanced, combining deep technical knowledge with soft skills such as communication, management, and adaptability. These qualities enable building strong, innovative teams that can effectively respond to dynamic changes in the technology world.

What steps do you take to ensure customer data security in the face of growing cyber threats?

The security of entrusted finances and customer data is our top priority.

In the fight against cyber threats, the weakest link is humans. Therefore, one of the key steps is the education of customers and employees. It is in the banks’ interest to inform customers about the methods used by cybercriminals to steal their personal data and money. At Alior, we conduct extensive, transparent communication through information campaigns using email, SMS, and push notifications and by providing information on our websites. We also ensure the education of our employees so they can always support and inform customers about potential threats.

Another important step is implementing new technological solutions that enhance data protection standards in the bank. We continuously strengthen our security infrastructure and use innovative solutions such as a central repository using the latest technologies (Teradata solutions in the Microsoft public cloud). We ensure the highest standards of sensitive data security in compliance with applicable regulations, and the location of our data processing centers in Poland and abroad minimizes geopolitical risk.

How do you see the future of digital banking, and what impact will upcoming regulations have on it?

In the context of digital banking, we face challenges and opportunities arising from dynamic technological changes and the continuous introduction of new regulations. An example of such regulations is the upcoming EU AI Act, which could significantly impact the use of technologies such as facial recognition or profiling, which are crucial for processes like customer onboarding or offering personalized services.

On one hand, regulations such as GDPR and the AI Act aim to increase the protection of personal data and users’ right to anonymity, which is absolutely necessary today. On the other hand, there is a risk that overly strict regulatory frameworks could stifle innovation. Concerns about using AI tools like facial recognition may lead to restrictions that discourage banks from exploring new, potentially groundbreaking solutions in service personalization and security.

The history of facial recognition technology in the public domain shows how flawed applications of these tools can lead to negative social consequences, which in turn lead to the introduction of stricter regulations. Such developments create a need for a more balanced approach that allows for innovation while ensuring high protection and security.

Upcoming regulations, such as those concerning online onboarding or the use of AI algorithms for customer profiling, will require banks to invest even more in regulatory compliance, which may impact operational costs and service prices for customers. However, banks that effectively adapt to these changes will be able to offer higher-quality services to their customers, which can be a decisive competitive factor.

Europe faces the challenge of finding a balance between regulation and stimulating innovation. Unlike the more liberal approach in the United States, where the market can develop with less government intervention, Europe seeks a more regulated approach that ensures greater safety and consumer protection but may limit the pace of technological development.

How banks and regulators respond to these new challenges will significantly shape the future of digital banking. The balance between innovation and regulation will determine the pace of fintech development and how quickly and effectively banks can adapt to a changing world.

What legal and ethical challenges are associated with implementing artificial intelligence in the banking sector?

Implementing artificial intelligence in banking carries many legal and ethical challenges that we must carefully consider to protect both customers and the reputation of our institutions. A key aspect is the need to build fair and non-discriminatory AI models. History has shown that early scoring models or facial recognition systems often reproduced existing biases, resulting from unbalanced input data. For example, these models preferred men over women or led to racist errors due to flawed data selection that did not ensure appropriate diversity in training and validation data.

From a legal perspective, using AI in banking requires compliance with applicable personal data protection regulations (GDPR) and, in the near future, with the AI Act. We must inform customers about what data is collected, how it is used, and what rights they have regarding this data, how it will be linked, and for what reason. This is a matter of legal compliance and building trust through transparency in our actions.

Ethically, ensuring that our algorithms do not create or reinforce existing social or economic inequalities is crucial. This means continuous validation and correction of AI models to avoid unfair advantages or harm to specific social groups. When introducing AI, we must also consider the ethical implications of such technologies, particularly in the context of credit decisions that can significantly impact people’s lives.

Additionally, there is an increasing need to introduce internal oversight and control mechanisms for AI to ensure that these systems operate in accordance with established ethical and legal standards. This includes developing “explainable AI,” which allows understanding and explaining decisions made by AI systems, which is crucial in case of disputes or claims.

The challenges associated with implementing AI in banking are significant, but with careful attention to legal and ethical details, they can substantially benefit banks and their customers. Our task is to implement new technologies and ensure they are used responsibly and fairly.

What steps in your career do you consider decisive in achieving a leadership position in technology?

My path to a leadership position in the banking technology sector is perhaps unusual, but each experience significantly contributed to shaping my skills and perspectives. The first key moment was the decision to study law after graduating from a technical high school specializing in digital electronic machines. Although initially, it seemed that this would divert me from technology, this combination of technical and legal education turned out to be the foundation of my analytical approach to problems.

When at the age of 16, I ended up in a courtroom as a victim of a robbery, I felt that law was a field I wanted to explore. Changing direction to legal studies was groundbreaking, but the technical high school provided me with mathematical and technical tools that proved invaluable in later managing processes in the banking sector.

After several years of working in a law firm, I began my banking career in legal roles, including corporate restructuring and debt collection at Bank Pekao SA, where in less than a year, my team and I doubled the bank’s secured recoveries. Subsequently, I managed the legal department, corporate governance of Pekao Group companies, bank support departments (logistics), real estate, and procurement. At Pekao, I gained valuable corporate experience. This job gave me a solid foundation for understanding complex economic and legal issues, which is invaluable in a technologically advanced banking environment.

At Alior Bank, in addition to my responsibilities for the legal department, I was entrusted with data protection and IT management. Combining the legal aspects of data security with technology management became a natural area where I could fully utilize my skills. Over time, as a board member overseeing IT, I have confirmed how important it is to combine technical knowledge with legal and regulatory analysis skills.

Throughout, an open approach to learning and adaptation was extremely important. Managing various aspects of bank operations, from legal to technological, required continuous education and openness to new technologies and management methods. My experiences in procurement and logistics also enriched my understanding of how technology impacts strategic decisions within an organization.

The key steps that allowed me to achieve a technology leadership position include education, diverse professional roles, and the ability to integrate interdisciplinary knowledge and lead in a dynamic environment where technology, law, and business intersect.

What is the importance of mentoring younger specialists to you, and how does it affect the culture in the organization?

Mentoring younger employees is not only a duty for me but primarily a pleasure that has a significant impact on organizational culture. My experiences at Pekao SA, where I led a team in the restructuring and debt collection department, gave me my first real lessons in mentoring. Daily interactions and weekly meetings where I shared knowledge and experience shaped me as a leader capable of supporting others in their development.

An example is the decision to support lawyers with economists and bankers in my team. This significantly broadened their perspectives and improved the department’s results, especially in the area of asset recovery (e.g., the sale of the bank’s receivables). Legal “glasses,” as I call them, allow for noticing details and nuances that might otherwise be overlooked.

Mentoring, especially at higher management levels, can be more challenging due to time constraints and the scope of responsibility. However, I still strive to share my knowledge and perspective with experienced managers. I see how differences in understanding and perspective between different organizational levels often result from a lack of knowledge or understanding of the needs and constraints of other departments.

I believe that mentoring should include the development of emotional management skills, which are crucial in managing people. I teach my managers not to pass their stress and frustration onto the team, which undermines their authority and can destabilize team morale. Instead, I promote a culture of calmness, composure, and professionalism.

Mentoring significantly impacts organizational culture by building an environment based on trust, mutual respect, and continuous learning. It allows the transfer of knowledge and experience, strengthens collaboration, and increases employee engagement. This also translates into better company results and a more innovative approach to the challenges we face daily in our work.

Mentoring is a tool for individual employee development and a mechanism for building a stronger, more integrated organization. It is an investment in the company’s future that brings benefits both on an individual and corporate level.

What legal changes could most impact the technology sector in banking in the coming years?

The most important legal changes we will see in the coming years will mainly concern liability and security mechanisms in electronic transactions. An example is the evolution from PSD2 to PSD3 – Payment Services Directives that have a huge impact on the entire banking sector, especially on technological aspects.

PSD2 introduced significant changes in transaction authentication processes aimed at increasing the security of online payments through the requirement of strong customer authentication. Unfortunately, the implementation of this regulation was considered excessive by the sector, causing various problems. Sometimes, customers dispute transactions despite proper authentication (e.g., code or SMS), claiming in complaints that they did not authorize the transactions. They then demand refunds for mistakes or poor investment decisions. The problem arises when a customer reports that their authentication data was used without their consent, but the facts indicate careless or negligent sharing of authentication data with third parties.

The upcoming PSD3 will likely respond to these issues by tightening requirements and extending banks’ liability for refunding customers’ funds, even in cases of customer errors in managing authentication data. This could lead to further tightening regulations on how banks must personalize and multiply transaction authorization safeguards, impacting the technologies these institutions use.

The EU’s “DORA” regulation on digital operational resilience in the financial sector is another aspect that will have a major impact on the growing interest in proper outsourcing of services, especially in the context of risk management and cybersecurity. Banks may be inclined to transfer some operations to larger entities capable of better-managing risk and meeting growing regulatory requirements, which also translates into higher costs for these services that may ultimately burden consumers.

Legal changes will significantly impact how banks manage technologies and transaction security in the coming years. This requires technology leaders to follow these changes and proactively adapt to them, which is crucial for maintaining customer trust and operational efficiency.

Are there any upcoming projects at Alior Bank that could revolutionize how customers use banking services?

At Alior Bank, we are on the verge of introducing several innovative projects that will undoubtedly revolutionize how customers use our services. Our flagship project is the expansion and monetization of our public cloud data warehouse, which involves moving a large portion of our services to the cloud. This will enable better data utilization and facilitate customer relationship management in an omnichannel environment.

A key aspect of this project is ensuring that customers can start a process on the hotline and then continue and complete it on their home laptop or smartphone without any obstacles. We want the entire interaction with the bank to be smooth and consistent, regardless of the device or channel used.

We also plan to digitize most of our resources, including data archiving and full migration to the cloud. This will allow us to better utilize our IT resources to optimize customer experiences and increase the bank’s operational efficiency.

Additionally, we have started working on an eCRM system that enables advanced offer profiling for our customers based on their interactions with the bank. This will allow us to better match offers and services to our customer’s individual needs and behaviors, minimizing instances where we propose services that do not meet their current needs.

All these projects align with our new strategy, which can be implemented by our team depending on the bank’s strategic decisions. In any case, our main goal is to create a more integrated, efficient, and customer-centric banking environment that responds to the dynamically changing needs of our customers in the digital world.

What skills do you consider most important for leaders in today’s dynamic technology world?

My career is an example that in today’s times, we often need to be ready to change not only jobs but even professions. Ten years ago, if someone had asked me whether I would leave Krakow, where I had my legal practice, I would have answered firmly “no.” However, life led me to Warsaw, where I continued my career in a completely new context, and it was this openness to change that proved crucial.

Changing professions or industries may seem challenging, but it is also an opportunity for growth. In my case, legal debt collection led me to a larger city and more complex projects, which was difficult but also very developmental. This also showed me how important continuous learning and adaptation are in a career.

Debt collection and restructuring experiences gave me the opportunity to temporarily chair Alior Bank’s Credit Committee when the need arose. The actions taken contributed to the introduction of a more conservative credit policy for the bank towards enterprises, impacting a reduction in the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio, significantly lowering credit risk costs, and the bank’s position.

Continuous education and openness to new technologies allowed me to maintain competitiveness and contribute to industry innovation. Additionally, perseverance and the ability to work under pressure are extremely important. Often, it takes strength to face new challenges both in professional and personal life. The ability to continue a task despite difficulties and the ability to use every opportunity for learning and development determines our success.

Adapting to a changing world, continuous learning, and perseverance are key skills that enabled me to grow in the dynamically changing technology industry. These qualities are essential for anyone who wants to not only survive but thrive in a modern professional environment.

How do you support and develop a culture of innovation in the teams you manage?

I strive to continuously cultivate innovation in our teams. As a lawyer, some things, such as documentation, need to be accessible and archived traditionally, meaning in writing. However, I am convinced of the benefits of modern tools such as cloud work.

Supporting innovation begins with teaching and showing how these new technologies can improve work—for example, overcoming skepticism among more conservative employees who have difficulty accepting cloud work. Explaining that modern cloud tools give them greater flexibility in working through teams on many devices instead of storing files on local computer disks, which can only be accessed through that device.

I also try to be an example of openness to new solutions, demonstrating modern technologies’ benefits. For example, when we introduced cloud-based Microsoft Office 365, centered around OneDrive and Teams, it was also a new way of organizing work for me. However, I quickly saw the benefits of efficiently transferring work between different devices and encouraged the team to take advantage of this flexibility.

Embracing innovation in daily work also involves leading by example and showing how new technologies can make professional and personal lives easier and promoting continuous learning and adaptation to changing circumstances. All this fosters a culture where innovations are not only accepted but also desired.

Developing a culture of innovation in the teams I manage is based on education, demonstrating the practical benefits of new technologies, and being open to continuous learning. Combining traditional and modern approaches is key to effective and future-oriented management.

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