Anna Mikhina, VP of Lifestyle Services Development at Tinkoff, explains why the bank’s super-app has been so popular during the pandemic.
Global Finance: How significant has the uptake of digital services been this chaotic year, and how did Tinkoff respond?
Anna Mikhina: Digital services became more popular this year, as those individuals who normally shy away from new technology gravitated toward digital platforms after the Covid-19 pandemic changed people’s lives. As a branchless, online provider of banking, investment, insurance and other lifestyle services, Tinkoff is well positioned to operate in the current environment. I’m proud to highlight that we were able to continue offering best-in class service to customers, undisrupted by Covid-19-related problems in the face-to-face world.
Tinkoff saw one million new Tinkoff Black current accounts opened in Q1 2020—a record start of the year for us—and this strong growth has continued through this turbulent year. We quickly responded to our customers’ changing needs.
For example, Tinkoff launched an offer called Surviving Quarantine, allowing customers to benefit from discounts on popular digital services and subscriptions, such as film streaming, home fitness, audiobooks and online courses. Addressing increased demand for online shopping, we added our goods.ru marketplace to the super-app in June, enabling customers to shop online—and receive a 5% cash-back bonus for each purchase—without leaving the Tinkoff app.
We also responded to demand for additional investing, savings and philanthropic tools. This June, we rolled out the Investment Box micro-investing service, where small savings on everyday Tinkoff card purchases are automatically invested in a portfolio of exchange-traded funds. In July, Tinkoff’s voice assistant Oleg got new features, reminding customers of recurring payments and upcoming bills and helping them stick to spending limits they’ve set in order to help them reach their savings goals.
Helping others is more important than ever during these uncertain times. We recognized our customers’ desire to serve their communities by initiating the Cashback to Give Back charitable program this August. It enables Tinkoff customers to direct their cash-back bonuses directly to our partner charities.
GF: You say the Tinkoff “super app” is popular for delivering lifestyle services. Can you explain more what this means?
Mikhina: The Tinkoff super-app can do everything a regular banking app can do, such as help customers pay bills, transfer money, keep track of account balances. In addition to this, the super-app also allows customers to take care of additional lifestyle needs that go beyond banking, all in the same place and without needing to reenter payment details.
For example, Tinkoff customers can order flowers for delivery, book a doctor’s appointment, refuel their cards in a contactless way, reserve airplane or train tickets, shop online and get useful and entertaining content about upcoming film premiers or winter sales. This approach helps our customers save time and take care of their daily lifestyle needs easily, while taking advantage of special savings and cash-back bonus offers from Tinkoff.
From a business perspective, it helps us increase customer loyalty and engagement. In August, Tinkoff became the leader in customer loyalty among Russian banks, according to a customer survey conducted by Romir, the representative of Gallup International in Russia.
GF: How do you balance your need for commissions with profits for your partners and deals for your customers?
Mikhina: We remain flexible and customer-driven in our choice of products and services we integrate into our super-app. In turn, our partners get a unique out-of-the-box solution when joining the Tinkoff ecosystem, which allows them to tap into the Tinkoff customer base and implement a wide range of digital marketing and customer engagement tools with the help of Tinkoff tech support, while bypassing merchant acquiring fees.
Our partners are ready to pay a commission for this, and we give back this commission to Tinkoff customers in the form of cash-back bonuses when they make purchases within the Tinkoff ecosystem. We see this approach as a win-win for our partners, allowing them to grow their customer base as we continue to improve the Tinkoff customer experience and increase engagement.
GF: Post-pandemic, will customers still favor digital banking?
Mikhina: It’s hard to predict the future with any certainty, but current trends make it clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the move toward digital services, including in banking. Many people who were forced to try digital banking for the first time during lockdown experienced its convenience. At Tinkoff, our customer base is continuing to grow rapidly, along with customer engagement. We are on track to increase our customer base beyond 12 million people.