Turkey gets up to speed on data-driven banking

With technological innovation and social entrepreneurship at its core, Turkey’s finance industry is making a difference to the lives of millions on a daily basis. Garanti Bank is at the forefront of this movement, harnessing data to constantly improve


Turkey’s banking sector is undergoing something of a revival at present. With a solid embrace of technological change in the field, Turkish banks are at the forefront of the country’s economic development. Leading the way in this bold movement is Garanti Bank. Garanti provides financial services to around 14 million customers through an extensive distribution network of more than 1,000 branches, 998 of which are domestic and 11 of which are overseas.

With a branch and ATM market share of roughly nine percent, Garanti also leads in key product categories in Turkey, with an overall consumer lending market share of approximately 15 percent and a clear spike in daily payment products, for example a 21 percent market share in credit cards.

One way in which Garanti succeeds in this respect is by ushering new trends into the market that support change at a fast and welcome pace. For example, in 1997, Garanti became the first multi-branch private bank in Turkey to offer real-time online services. Then, just a few years later in 2006, it pioneered the country’s first paperless banking environment by being the first bank in the world to introduce ID scanning facilities in its branches.

We are one of the best in the Turkish market in terms of data consistency, reliability and report generation efficiency

And then, in 2013, Garanti became the first Turkish bank to set up new branches that could accommodate disabled customers with far greater ease. World Finance had the chance to speak with Onur Genç, Deputy CEO of Garanti Bank. He provided information on this impressive track record, the bank’s continued growth, and how it constantly strives to make a positive overall impact.

What role does the branch network play in Garanti Bank’s overall strategy?
The focus of Garanti’s marketing strategy is to ‘be wherever its customers are’. That’s why, although it has a leading market position in internet and mobile banking, its retail banking strategy relies equally on its network of local branches.

Ensuring that branch employees are experts in the field is key to attaining this goal. Therefore, we ensure that we have highly talented and dynamic human resources in place that are capable of making a difference to customers’ lives.

How does technology factor into your customer offering?
After 28 years in retail banking, Garanti has successfully differentiated itself from the competition by enhancing the lives of millions of customers through technology, a rich product range and dynamic process management. Since the 1990s, Garanti has made considerable investments in technology, thereby making ‘innovation through technology’ an integral part of its daily decision-making and associated processes.

Garanti’s rapid adoption of new technology, including 4,600 Paramatik ATMs and an award-winning call centre, have complemented its leading position in internet and mobile banking (with a transaction market share of 23 and 31 percent respectively), creating an unparalelled channel experience for its customers.

This helps to continuously drive the bank forward. Essentially, Garanti’s fully in-house developed, business-integrated and custom-fit IT solutions have created a better customer experience. What’s more, digitalisation of processes allows error-free and instant transactions, as well as superior operational efficiency and sales effectiveness.

Garanti also took digital transaction banking one step further by introducing iGaranti, a service that is the first of its kind in the mobile world, specifically targeted at our digital-savvy customers. In 2004, 66 percent of transactions at Garanti were executed through digital channels. Within 10 years, this has risen to 85 percent.

Furthermore, it’s important to mention that Garanti has exceptionally big data management capabilities. We are one of the best in the Turkish market in terms of data consistency, reliability and report generation efficiency. Garanti’s centralised management reporting facility enables timely actions and is the starting point of every customer process. Having realised major breakthroughs in the fields of data warehouse usage and business intelligence, Garanti plans to continue making investments into big data.

Are there any unique ways in which you attract and retain local businesses?
Garanti Bank provides an essential service to a broad population, which ranges from female entrepreneurs to small/medium enterprises and employees of all professions. The bank constantly strives to create a swift, smooth and effective financial environment, in order to continually improve the benefits received by its diverse customer base through innovative products and services tailored specifically to their needs.

Garanti is the industry leader in payment systems, which is attributed to its technology, rich credit card base and extensive member merchant network. Garanti extends its support via PoS devices, which are crucial for supporting local businesses. Additionally, Garanti professionally manages credits through advanced lending processes and scorecards, as well as developing digital channels.

Garanti is very passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs. Therefore, we have launched a number of pioneering programmes alongside other organisations. For example, within the scope of the Programme for Financing and Consultation Support for Women’s Entrepreneurship, which was launched by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in cooperation with the EU delegation to Turkey and the Turkish Government, Garanti supports a €300m loan package for businesses run by women.

Also, in 2008, Garanti began hosting annual female entrepreneur ‘get-togethers’ in five cities, in collaboration with the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey. In addition, since 2007, Garanti has co-organised the Turkey Woman Entrepreneur Competition, encourageing female entrepreneurship and shining the spotlight on success stories.

In 1996, Garanti became the first private bank in Turkey to launch a business owner package, which is dedicated to supporting SMEs. Besides this, the bank introduced Turkey’s first contactless SME-specific credit card, Easy Card. The bank also hosts Garanti Anatolian Meetings, which act as a platform for sharing tailored solutions to problems in specific sectors/provinces.

In what ways do you market the bank as a high street/local financial services provider?
Garanti Bank’s market positioning is summed up under the tagline ‘how may I serve you further?’ Customers define Garanti as a bank that makes them feel special, offers them fast service, is trustworthy and innovative, and contributes to the economy. This is because we offer easily accessible local solutions by having a major presence on all high streets in every province and town in Turkey. In fact, Garanti has a particularly high market share in Turkey’s six biggest cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Adana and Bursa.

Thanks to our extensive branch network, broad product range and new customer acquisition strategies, Garanti has now secured a place in Turkey’s micro and local markets as well. Salary payments and credit card products are key in securing new customer acquisition for Garanti. In turn, this is very important for securing cashflow and loyalty in the long term.

How do you compete against other retail banks in the region?
Garanti has a strategy based on a prioritised risk-return balance, a well-diversified and actively managed funding structure, a strengthened capital base and sustainable high income generation capacity. Thus, it has achieved a leading position in most areas and has a very attractive platform for future growth. The key elements that differentiate Garanti Bank from the competition in a challenging environment are its customer-centric approach, superior technology and highly-qualified personnel.

How do you plan on enhancing your service and products in the coming year?
In a bid to further enhance customer satisfaction, we are constantly striving to improve the quality of our service. In an environment of increasing regulatory requirements, Garanti is focused on improving process efficiency and resource utilisation in order to reach its sustainable profitability target. In keeping with new banking trends, Garanti continues to focus on digitisation and redesigned processes, with the aim of increasing our market share of sales from digital channels.

For instance, when customers began spending a lot of time on social media, the bank began using these platforms as a banking channel and created new processes for product applications directly within social media channels such as Facebook.

Within the framework of these strategies, savings accounts, consumer loans and investment products will remain key focal points in 2016. In addition, Garanti will also continue concentrating on saving and encouraging its customers of various profiles to save through different products. Another key area will be winning new customers from different segments, particularly in children’s banking, as well as in retiree and youth segments.

Finally, we hope to secure increased penetration of payment/loyalty products, attracting cashflows to the bank based on our strategy of achieving greater engagement with customers.