Serhat Yıldırım, senior vice president of digital banking at Akbank, talks about mobile banking advances in Turkey.
Global Finance: How are digital and mobile changing banking?
Yıldırım: In the last two years, Akbank Direkt’s mobile banking customer base grew two times faster than the mobile banking market. We positioned Akbank Direkt Mobile as the primary channel for our online customers. They use Akbank Direkt Mobile for everyday transactions. If a bigger screen is needed for transactions such as tax payments or security bond purchases, then they log in to Internet banking. Today, 91 percent of all transactions in our bank are conducted through direct banking channels, such as Internet and mobile devices, and more people use mobile channels than Internet.
GF: How are banks and fintechs co-existing?
Yıldırım: Recently, many big banks have seen companies such as Apple and Google or fintech firms as a threat, that these companies may push traditional banks to the sidelines when consumers choose to use smartphones to make payments. However, the banks are not going to back down. Akbank focuses its energy on quick responses, more personalized interactions and innovation to deliver on customers’ high expectations. As Akbank Direkt, we work like a technology company. We collaborate with fintechs. We invest almost $100 million in technology every year.
GF: Can you describe a few of Akbank’s innovations?
Yıldırım: We are the first bank to put the 3D Touch feature of Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus phones into service for our customers. With this feature, we ensured that our customers can rapidly access any action with a single click. They can withdraw money by bringing their iPhones close to an ATM machine, without using a bank card or a password, with our new application using iBeacon, a new technology from Apple. All (customers) need to do is download our app. Then they can withdraw money in a few seconds without using a card or a reference code from our ATMs with the iBeacon feature. The first withdrawal in the world using iPhone and iBeacon technology began at six Akbank ATMs, and will become widespread in time. Akbank Direkt Apple Watch App, the pioneer of wearable technology in Turkey, has taken a place with its ease of use, simple design, and easy log-in feature. We prepared a full-scope application that allows any action, from displaying the remaining limit to withdrawal.
GF: What other transactions can take place digitally?
Yıldırım: Akbank Direkt Credit is a consumer loan product. Akbank customers can complete applications and credit allocation transactions online. After approval, the amount is transferred to the customer’s account in an instant.