Garanti BBVA leads Turkey’s response to COVID-19

Despite its rich history, Garanti BBVA has never been content to live in the past. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank remains committed to providing a customer experience that is safe, reliable and efficient

Garanti BBVA leads Turkey’s response to COVID-19
Garanti BBVA conducts monthly usability surveys to better observe its users’ needs and devise solutions for problems associated with existing functions 

Founded in 1946, Garanti BBVA is Turkey’s second-largest private bank, with consolidated assets of approximately TRY 456bn ($67.6bn) as of March 31, 2020. We are an integrated financial services group that operates across every segment of the banking sector. Throughout our many decades of service, we have witnessed numerous changes within the financial services industry; even so, the last decade has delivered innovation at an unprecedented scale and pace. We are committed to playing a leading role within this transformation.

We currently deliver a wide range of financial services to more than 18 million customers via our 18,000-plus members of staff and our distribution network of 904 domestic branches, seven foreign branches in Cyprus and one in Malta. We also have two international representative offices in Düsseldorf and Shanghai. As consumer demands shift, we believe that an omnichannel approach is the best way to provide a seamless experience for our customers, whether it’s through our 5,260 ATMs, our award-winning call centre or our online and digital banking platforms. Wherever our customers need us, that’s where we’ll be.

Moving with the times
In terms of retail banking, Garanti BBVA rolled out its green mortgage in 2017 to promote the development of efficient and environmentally friendly buildings – to date, we have provided a total TRY 379m ($56.2m) in financing. Garanti BBVA also took an important step in 2019 to manage its direct impact on climate change and started working on its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions targets.

Garanti BBVA is here to stay and grow with its customers, even on the hardest of days

In light of these developments, the bank signed a contract at the beginning of 2020 with utility companies across Turkey to purchase 100 percent renewable energy for its buildings and branches that have the compatible infrastructure. Garanti BBVA will continue to support its stakeholders in climate change transition, encouraging customers to become aware of their impact on the planet and helping them to adapt their behaviours, including the use of public transportation, electric or hybrid vehicles and other green products. The bank will maintain its key role as an advisor to its customers, supporting them in their endeavours within the sustainable space, such as contributing to the circular economy, sustainable investment funds and sustainable innovation.

As emerging technologies and the changing world rapidly transform customer expectations, the banking sector is being asked to constantly renew itself. Looking ahead to the next decade, we anticipate technological revolutions will continue at an increasing pace, with data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies set to gain further importance. That is why it is key to establish an experience that is both empathetic and instantaneous.

To this end, we make it our goal to adapt to evolving market conditions in a swift and agile manner, making new collaborations that create pioneering business models and channels while maintaining our human-centric approach. As technology, innovation and new opportunities continue to make our customers’ lives easier, the most important guarantors of our success will be our employees, who enable us to establish long-term, deep and emotional bonds with our customers.

Garanti BBVA conducts monthly usability surveys to better observe its users’ needs and devise solutions for problems associated with existing functions. Additionally, these surveys ensure the user experience is the focal point when we launch any new product. A recent example was the enhancements we made to our personal loan service, which provides customers with the loans they need for shopping on digital platforms. Our customers can apply and use the loans for their online shopping expenses as an alternative payment method in e-commerce transactions.

We have also renewed our public dashboard and implemented new features in our app, Garanti BBVA Mobile. We analysed the customer journey and conducted a variety of usability research initiatives within this. Now, the dashboard is easier to use, actions are more visible and the end-to-end digital experience is enhanced. With our digital onboarding project, we streamlined the process of becoming a customer by digitalising our customer acquisition process.

Garanti BBVA will continue to develop new instruments, channels and processes in keeping with this goal, utilising big data, AI and Internet-of-Things-orientated marketing activities, as well as delivering tailored solutions for our customers’ on-site needs.

Guiding the market
With its effective delivery channels and successful relationship banking, Garanti BBVA’s market share in retail lending increased further among private banks in 2019. Preserving its leading position in retail products, the bank continues to respond effectively to its customers’ needs with branches spread across all cities in Turkey. What’s more, Garanti BBVA always approaches its customers in a transparent, clear and responsible manner, improving customer experience continuously by offering products and services that are tailored to their needs.

In 2020, asset growth is anticipated to be around 10 percent and remains loan-driven. Turkish lira loan growth is expected to fall somewhere between 15 and 18 percent, in line with the rebalancing of the economy. While growth is expected to be present across the board for all loans, Turkish lira investment loans will likely lead the way. On the retail banking front, Garanti BBVA will keep focusing on customer satisfaction and loyalty by deepening customer relationships, all while expanding its customer base.

We continue to deliver an innovative experience to all of our retail customers, including the 1.2 million new customers who joined last year. As of December 2019, 524,000 people had become homeowners through Garanti BBVA, and our share of the mortgage market was 10.6 percent. Meanwhile, our share of the consumer loan market was measured at 13.1 percent – putting us first when it comes to consumer loans among our private banking peers – and our consumer deposit market share reached 10.5 percent.

At Garanti BBVA, we believe the requirements of retail banking customers will deepen with every passing year, and the customisation of services and products aimed at these needs will become even more important. In 2020, the bank’s main focus will be to deliver products that are fit for purpose through the right channels and at the right time, thus improving customers’ experiences.

Adapting to the new normal
At the beginning of March, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the world came to a grinding halt. For us at Garanti BBVA, the safety of our employees and the satisfaction of our clients have always been – and always will be – paramount. As such, we immediately adapted to the situation at hand and started multiple initiatives to ensure our goals would continue to be met.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the undeniable importance of digital services

Garanti BBVA was one of the first Turkish companies to organise efforts to fight this crisis. The bank donated TRY 10m ($1.5m) to university hospitals for the purchase of medical devices and materials. Further, we delivered 500 ventilators – worth approximately TRY 30m ($4.4m) – as part of BBVA’s global campaign to help the countries it serves by providing medical equipment and materials to treat COVID-19 patients.

Within days, we moved our customer support centre off-site and provided a series of products, services and changes that would ensure all of our customers and employees felt safe and taken care of. As of March 31, 2020, 90 percent of the staff at our headquarters (approximately 7,000 to 8,000 employees) had started working from home, and only 30 percent of the entire bank continued working in the office.

While all call centre employees were sent home, we have ensured remote staff continue to receive regular updates during this tough period. As the best retail bank in Turkey, we understand that it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 and come up with new solutions and technologies that will make all of our stakeholders proud. And once the pandemic passes, we are ready to adapt our offices so employees can return safely when appropriate. We have shown during these troubled times that Garanti BBVA is here to stay and grow with its customers, even on the hardest of days.

All in all, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the undeniable importance of digital services. In this vein, Garanti BBVA has emphasised the importance of investing in digital channels and technological systems – it’s something that we have been committed to for more than 25 years. In the months to come, Garanti BBVA will continue to focus on digital transformation and remote services, identifying the most suitable tools for employees and customers to adapt seamlessly to the ‘new normal’.