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For Turkish bank Garanti: appiness is the truth

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I recently started working with the guys at 11:FS.  A great bunch of folks who really understand FinTech and Digital.  So they have a podcast, a blog and even do some work sometimes.  Anyways, I thought this article was interesting and so, in the spirit of sharing, have scraped over here:

Garanti: driving digital at scale

As a leading bank in Turkey, Garanti has delivered a consistent and well-placed investment in digital that has helped it create a mobile-savvy customer base. So as part of our research and bench marking of global banking apps, we’ve been wanting to take a look at its CepBank mobile banking app for a while. First some figures:

  • 5 million digital (mobile and online) customers
  • Of these 5 million, 3.9 million are mobile customers
  • 2.4 million are mobile-only customers
  • Within mobile banking, customers can perform 200 different transactions
  • 76 million financial transactions per year are completed via mobile banking

That’s an impressive digital customer base, but what features separate it from the standard banking app?

Cracking the convenience vs security dilemma

The majority of banks struggle to provide security solutions that are both safe and convenient. While we at 11:FS are massive fans of progressive security, we recognise the need to implement thorough security measures in the traditional banking world. Garanti offers eye recognition as a means to login, with a quarter of all Turkish consumers who use mobile banking preferring this login method. The eye structure verification is a unique biometric imprint that varies from person to person. A personalised key is generated by scanning the structure of the customer’s eye and is stored in Garanti Bank’s records. The convenience is obvious – no need to remember passwords, use physical secure keys for login, or wait for one-time passcodes via SMS.

“Increasingly we are seeing voice as a customer interface taken seriously. Beyond simply helping customers with accessibility, a voice interface moves towards invisible banking and ensuring a bank is there at the point of need. The key is to ensure this is something users understand and feel comfortable using, which MIA does.”  Simon Taylor, Co-founder and Blockchain Lead at 11:FS

Native features: intelligent push notifications

Best-in-class push notifications are both intelligent and actionable. Garanti takes full advantage of this native feature by also allowing customers to take action in one click or swipe, without the need to open the app. These actions include paying a bill, sending money, and even extending into sales with overdrafts and investments.

Garanti also breaks away from traditional bank communications by using emojis (similar to Monzo), making push notifications a more fun, personal experience.

You can see an example of notifications that inform customers of last payment dates and when money has hit the account.








“Many banks brag about the number of customer logins to their mobile apps, but I think they are missing the point. Customers don’t want to have to repeatedly check in to see how they are doing. They want a bank to send them timely updates, when their salary comes in, or a big payment goes out.

Appropriate push notifications keep people out of trouble, with at least one researcher in the US showing that realtime connection financial data can reduce people's monthly spend by over 15%. Intelligent push notifications might seem like a small thing, but they can make a big difference to an end-customer.
Jason Bates, Co-founder of 11:FS and Monzo Bank

Bringing the human element to mobile

While some banks remove the human element of the banking relationship by pushing entire journeys to digital platforms, Garanti recognises that complex financial decisions need that human touch to promote trust and reassurance.

Loans and mortgages may require face-to-face interaction for some customers, and Garanti provides that opportunity via the Mobile Loan Video Application. The feature allows customers to have an online face-to-face meeting with a loan consultant entirely within the app, so convenient for those who can’t escape the office during working hours. The feature seems to be growing in popularity, with Garanti reporting a monthly transaction volume of around £1,000,000.

“For complex or urgent circumstances customers want to feel that they have the support of people that can empathise and help them resolve this situation. I’ve carried out user testing in the past where even someone who used to sell mortgages in a call centre wouldn't purchase a mortgage full digitally without having someone check it over and ensure there were no mistakes. Bringing in the safety net, in a manner like video conferencing, brings the best of both worlds where you don't leave behind people who are not ready, but bring about the ability to deliver a service to people who need it, when and how they can consume it.”  David Brear, Co-founder and CEO of 11:FS

Digital help and support

Turkey is a highly mature market in terms of digital offerings, so to have the most used chatbot (350,000 active monthly users) in the territory is a good sign. Its service, which it calls ‘MIA’ (why is it always a girls name?) is a voice-based chat bot that allows customers to perform transactions within the app – think Siri and Alexa but customised for the Garanti app.
MIA is accessed within the app by swiping down. On any page, a customer can ask for currency conversions, send money, and check their balance. We understand from the guys at Garanti that the application was developed with an extensive grammar and comprehension capability, ensuring all banking transactions can be performed by voice through 155 different intents and 65 different concepts (not knowing Turkish, we’ll have to take their word for it).

Apparently customers are quite playful with MIA too, as you can ask it non-banking questions. In the first 9 months, 8,000 customers asked Mia for a marriage proposal! A lot of banks are talking about conversational interfaces, but this is a live implementation.

We have seen branch appointment functionality offered by a handful of banks in the UK and US, but typically this feature isn’t intelligent and is essentially just an appointment form. Garanti again takes a small but important step forward by offering alternative branch appointments to customers if their nominated branch is busy. It also routes customers to ATMs and digital channels if branches are particularly busy. While not earth shattering, it’s little touches like this that really do make a difference to digital experiences.

QR ATM withdrawals

A handful of banks, such as RBS and Commonwealth Bank provide a facility to allow customers to use their smartphones to withdraw cash from an ATM without a bank card. Garanti pioneered this service, offering customers the ability to withdraw money with a QR code in 2014.

There has been an upgrade to this feature, and withdrawals are now available via the app login page, removing the need for full login. As a result, customers now only need to enter one password to complete the withdrawal and scan the QR code generated in the app at the ATM. So you can now initiate the withdrawal from a taxi, and then stop at an ATM and quickly withdraw cash without a card. Apparently this feature is used 180,000 times a month.

“Garanti has been a leading innovator for over ten years, when I first spotted them leading the contactless payments revolution well before everyone else. Their app reinforces that digital leadership. After all, how many banks do you see talking to their 3.5m mobile customers with emojis?”  Chris Skinner, Special Partner at 11:FS and best-selling author

Beyond CepBank...

In addition to Cep, Garanti offer a youth app: Garanti One. Which incorporates financial education and tailored discounts for young adults. It takes on a social aspect as well, with users able to send gifts via video, which is an interesting example of providing an emotional aspect to payments. We understand that the app has ~300,000 active users.

We’ve been impressed by the moves Garanti has made as a digital player. They’ve been talked about in digital circles for a long time, but few people have seen the latest version of their app, and taken a look at what they are actually delivering to end-customers.

If there is an app that you’d like to know more about, ask to show you Pulse, 11:FS’ competitor analysis platform, which gives you real-time insight into the world’s best digital banking and FinTech experiences.

Meanwhile, if you're really interested in these developments, the Financial Services Club welcomes Soner Canko, CEO of BKM - Turkey's ACH - to keynote in April.  Register to come if you want to know more.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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