Three decades after opening its first branch in Tbilisi, Georgia’s leading financial institution has emerged as an advanced tech-driven company with unparalleled products and services that are placing Georgia on the global innovation map. TBC Bank’s CEO, Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, discusses the bank’s digital transformation and ambitious geographic expansion strategy.
Global Finance: How has TBC Bank been instrumental in supporting Georgia’s economic growth?
Vakhtang Butskhrikidze: TBC Bank Group PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange, is a technology-driven company with a mission to make people’s lives easier through quality services and products.
Serving around [92%] of Georgia’s adult population, TBC has a significant role in Georgia’s economy. We account for 40% total assets to GDP and 28.2% loans to GDP, and have leading market shares in Georgia’s loans and deposits of 38.1% and 37.8%, respectively.
TBC has dominant positions in our major business lines, comprised of retail, corporate and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with a range of financial services, including traditional banking and innovative customer-focused solutions.
To stimulate economic growth, TBC has several large-scale programs supporting entrepreneurs, emerging companies, and established businesses. Our startaperi programme for start-ups covers more than 34,800 registered companies.
With over 8,000 employees in a country with a population of 3.7 million, TBC is also a leading Georgian employer. I am indeed particularly proud of our team and everything it has accomplished throughout the years. With our deep investment in technology, we are developing Georgia’s tech talent and fostering innovative thinking: up to 10% of our employees are part of our tech teams.
GF: How is TBC leveraging its digital platform to innovate Georgia’s banking sector and expand internationally?
VB: TBC is continuously transforming and reinventing itself. We now have robust digital platforms with over 95% offloading ratio in retail and MSME, 92% in contactless payments, and 50% in retail internet mobile and mobile banking penetration.
Our long-term strategy is to use our digital platforms to expand geographically, targeting one new country every year.
During 2020, despite pandemic challenges, TBC expanded digital operations outside Georgia, entering new markets in Uzbekistan. Through our highly digitalized, asset-light strategy, TBC UZ now serves customers in Uzbekistan mainly through our online platform, Space. Next generation physical locations across 12 cities are used primarily for client relationship management. Space’s flexible digital platform allows for rapid scale up and customer reach. TBC UZ has grown rapidly, and we expect to reach 1 million users and 700 employees by year end.
In addition, we recently signed a Memorandum with EBRD and IFC in which each institution will acquire a 20% stake in TBC UZ. The goal is to support TBC UZ’s operational growth and promote international corporate governance standards in the sector.
GF: What is TBC’s “beyond banking” mission?
VB: We are committed to making a better future for our communities. TBC is a CSR leader in Georgia with large-scale, high-impact initiatives focused on bringing positive change to society. We are pleased to play a major role in promoting and preserving Georgia’s cultural heritage through partnerships with international organizations and projects that pay tribute to our country’s rich history.
Moreover, ESG is at the heart of our business. We collaborate with partner organizations and international financial institutions to help businesses increase sustainability and adopt environmentally friendly policies.
TBC is always looking to the future. With our advanced omni-channel platform, geographical digital banking expansion, and initiatives supporting growth and sustainability for business and community, TBC is positioned for continued leadership beyond banking and beyond Georgia.