We are pleased to share with you the latest issue of Euromoney, in which the progress of digital banking in Akbank was examined along with other pioneers in the CEE region
The article argues that Emerging Europe has performed better than its western counterparts in the race for digitalization in banking, and that these lenders, including Akbank, “transformed banking with innovative approaches and reshaped the competitive environment.”
The profile on Akbank in the article is as follows:
Akbank: making the most of mobile
Akbank’s reputation was built on serving Turkey’s corporate sector, but more recently the bank has been making a name for itself as a leader in digital banking for retail clients.
A strong focus on – and copious investment in – mobile has produced a wealth of innovative solutions designed to maximize customer engagement. Recent launches include Axess Mobile, an app that offers consumers different services depending on their mood.
Tolga Ulutas, Akbank’s head of digital banking, explains. “Your weekend mood is very different from your Monday 9am mood; your shopping mood is different from your traditional banking mood. If you want to shop, you don’t want to have to go through an app full of banking products and investment options.”
Axess Mobile allows customers to choose a mood and creates targeted offers to match, from savings products to holiday planning services. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the service allows for an unprecedented level of personalization. “The app is backed by an analytical engine that can generate an alternative app from thousands of different scenarios based on the customer’s individual data,” says Ulutas. “Even I don’t know how many options there are at a given time.”
Similarly, Akbank is hoping to add a local element to its mobile platform by working with smaller retailers. “Local merchants are generally overlooked by banks,” says Ulutas. “The small butcher on the street corner that you walk past every day is just not on their radar. We’ve created a facility that allows those retailers to target customers in their neighbourhood with marketing campaigns though our digital platform. By including them in our merchant network, we are offering them the chance to compete directly with the big supermarket chains.”
So far, the response to the initiative has been mixed. “You can create the APIs [application programming interfaces] and open up your platform but that doesn’t mean firms will sign up,” says Ulutas. “Small companies in particular are wary of interacting with banks, so it takes a lot of targeted effort to convince them to work with us.”
Other recent mobile-based initiatives include the integration last year of a mobile phone store into Akbank’s banking app. Ulutas says this was a natural development for the bank. “Our customers are mobile by definition,” he says. “We know their handsets and their creditworthiness, so if they want to apply for finance for a store-based cellphone, what better place could there be?”
Akbank also scored a surprise success last March when it broke new ground in Turkey by offering shares in the IPO of electricity distributor Enerjisa Enerji on its mobile app. “We only put it on the app two days before the listing, but the response was incredible,” says Ulutas. “Three-quarters of the applications we collected came via mobile channels, and many were from customers who had never participated in a listing before. It was because we made it easy and available.”
Further proof of the impact of Akbank’s commitment to innovation comes from its engagement figures. Users of Akbank’s digital channels visit them on average 19 times a month, while 70% of general purpose loans and 55% of credit cards are now sold via online and mobile. Despite the recent economic upheavals in Turkey, Ulutas says the bank has no plans to cut investment in technology. “Obviously, we are prioritizing some services that are more relevant to the current market situation,” he says, “but we haven’t made any changes to the overall level of investment.”
Euromoney full article: How digital is transforming CEE Banking