The first cards
Very soon thereafter Cetelem launched Aura, a revolving credit card. Then Cetelem struck a partnership with the Eastbridge Group, which had bought the Dom Towarowy Centrum chain. Cetelem decided to bring out a second card under the name Optimum, for use in Eastbridge Group shops and at Tesco.
In 2005, Cetelem launched the Aura MasterCard Electronic card which was the first co- branded retail card in Poland.
In the early 2000s, all consumer credit providers in Poland saw their business grow fast. However, consumer credit was a new product, little understood by consumers, and the methods of debt recovery still rather inefficient, which led to an increase in risk. With its greater knowhow, Cetelem was in a far better position than most rivals and in 2002 managed to halve its cost of risk, even while increasing the credit application accep- tance rate.
Consolidating the consumer credit business
In 2006, the BNP Paribas Group came up with a plan to unite Cetelem s Polish con- sumer credit business with that of Sygma Bank Polska, which had been founded in 1999, and was a 50-50 joint subsidiary of the BNP Paribas Group and the LaSer Group. The two companies had very similar business models, apart from auto loans, which Sygma Bank Polska did not provide. The decision to merge the two businesses was finally taken in 2010.
Renaissance of the BNP Paribas Personal Finance business line
When BNP Paribas acquired Fortis Bank in 2009 this changed the situation in Poland. In 2006 Fortis Bank Polska had acquired Dominet Bank and this new entity possessed 260 retail branches. When Fortis joined the BNP Paribas Group, a decision was taken to unite all the consumer credit businesses plus Cetelem Bank Polska s auto financing business into a dedicated business line at Fortis Bank Polska.
This new business line was set up in January 2010 and the bank established an automated consumer credit platform in Warsaw. The auto loan business was relaunched in April 2010 and some months later sales of personal loans took off once again via the Fortis Bank Polska branch network.
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