Garanti, the Turkish bank part-owned by
GE, caused a stir in March with its latest attention-grabbing
marketing campaign. Executive vice-president Fuat Erbil spoke to
Dan Jones
about the bank’s advertising and retail product innovations, which
include m-banking ‘money’, five-minute loans and a range of
contactless tools.

Garanti Bank, Turkey’s largest bank by assets, has long been known
for its light-hearted marketing campaigns and innovative product
launches. March saw the bank fire its latest salvo in the quest to
attract more customers – in a TV spot anticipating the US
president’s visit to Turkey in April, a Barack Obama lookalike
advertised Garanti’s new low-cost consumer loan package.Garanti's 'Obama' campaign

Fuat Erbil, executive vice-president for
retail banking and distribution channels at Garanti, told
RBI that audiences found the campaign “surprising,
humorous and alluring”.

The product plays on the high-profile stimulus
package signed by Obama in February, by urging Turkish consumers to
“help save the economy” in taking out an income support loan
packaged with unemployment insurance and a reward card scheme.

Erbil said Garanti will continue to focus on
retail banking innovation in the future, not least through its
inventive advertising strategies. “The communication, promotion and
application of our campaigns resemble telecommunication and
fast-moving consumer good [FMCG] campaigns.”

The FMCG sector holds its own attractions for
the bank, which has seen its CepBank m-banking service taken up by
retailers including the likes of Pepsi. “Garanti offers its CepBank
service to FMCG campaigns as a reward mechanism tool,” said

“Many companies such as Nestlé, Pepsi and
Frito-Lay give their customers CepBank ‘money’ as a promotion,
which winners can then withdraw from Garanti ATMs.”

The service is just one of a variety of brands
employed by Garanti, which also promotes a full “life cycle” range
of services including Mini Bank (for children); g’bank (for 12- to
18-year-olds); and Unibank (for university students). The bank says
it now has a total of 160,000 customers across these three

In its retail banking division as a whole,
Garanti had 6.8 million customers and 730 branches as of the end of

Cross-sell ratio of 3.12

The product bundle which formed the
focal point of the Obama campaign is something the bank intends to
replicate throughout its retail division in 2009.

Erbil said that Garanti’s current cross-sell
ratio stands at 3.12 products per customer, emphasising the wide
customer base and effective sales force that the bank has at its
disposal as a means of improving this figure. But RBI
figures show the bank’s cross-sell ratio actually dipped in the
second half of 2008 (see issue 611), falling from a stated
3.34 products per customer as at 30 June 2008.

“Acquiring new customers is getting harder and
costly,” said Erbil. “For this reason it is important to retain the
most profitable existing customers – regardless of their segment –
and create new revenue sources by deepening the relationship with

In this regard, Garanti stands in good stead
by the range of products it offers to customers. Its ‘Bonus Trink’
contactless payment device alone comes in four separate versions: a
contactless card, a watch, a sticker and a key fob.

According to Erbil, the Bonus Trink card
currently has over 200,000 users in Turkey, and Garanti continues
to expand the service: this year it has launched a point-of-sale
device, the Bonus Trink PinPad, which enables both contactless and
regular payments to be processed by a single machine for the first

Though targeting its existing customer base
with bundles and product innovations remains a strategic priority,
Garanti is also setting its sights on Turkey’s unbanked

“New strategies for acquiring the unbanked and
for transactions will come into prominence,” Erbil said. “As an
example, our new ‘cardless remittance’ application enables money
transfer between non-customers – both receiver and sender – on

Another widely-publicised Garanti product, the
five-minute loan, has now had 4.5 million applicants since its
launch in May 2006. The effects this fast-track application
methodology has had on the bank’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratios
are not fully clear, but Garanti’s retail loan book is currently
under stress: its NPL ratio stands at 3.7 percent compared with a
2.2 percent sector average.

But despite its reputation as a retail-centric
bank, the retail banking loan portfolio makes up just 19 percent of
the bank’s total loans, and consequently its overall NPL ratios
compare more favourably to its competitors.

“There is not a significant difference in
delinquency rates between five minute loans and traditional loans,”
Erbil insisted. “[Meanwhile] we aim to continue to be a pioneer in
retail banking. From a marketing perspective, we will follow global
and local trends closely and continue to design attractive
campaigns that create ‘customer pull’.”


Garanti – at a glance, end-of

Retail customers






Cards in issuance


Cross-sell ratio


Alternative delivery channel customers


Cepbank customers


Online banking transactions


Pre-tax group profit

TYR2.1bn (down 9.3%)

Retail deposits

TYR27.3bn (up 27%)

Retail loans

TYR15.2bn (up 16.5%)

Return on equity


Source: Garanti