Bar chart showing Turkey's current account defecit as percentage to GDPAround a
year ago, RBI spoke to Hakan Binbasgil, deputy CEO and
chief retail banking officer at Akbank, Turkey’s third largest
private-sector bank by assets, about the reasons for the bank’s
success (see Akbank outlines reason for success).

Since then, the Turkish banking
sector has been shaken up with the central bank’s unorthodox
macro-prudential actions to maintain the country’s financial
stability while closing the current account deficit (see chart,

The Turkish central bank has raised
reserve capital requirements for banks (see chart, below),
forcing banks to set aside more capital and issue fewer loans in
order to restrict domestic credit demand.

Simultaneously, the central bank
has kept interest rates at 6.25% – the lowest ratio on record in
Turkey’s banking history – to fend off the inflow of short-term
capital from foreign investments, so called hot money, to prevent
the economy from overheating and destabilising.

In this issue, RBI caught
up with Binbasgil and also met with Akbank’s executive
vice-president strategy in charge of customer relationship
management, product and channel development, Tunc Akyurt.

The interviews are the first in a
series conducted by RBI reporter Duygu Tavan following
meetings with the country’s leading retail bankers.

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Despite the margin pressure, the
general impression was that there is enough potential in the
Turkish banking sector for its banks to continue to record high

With half the population aged under
30 and the world’s fourth-largest Facebook account base, Turkish
banks are aggressively pushing alternative delivery channels.

Other upcoming interviews include Soner Canko, the assistant
general manager of Turkey’s largest state-owned bank by assets,
Ziraat Bank; as well as the CEO of Garanti Payment Systems, Mehmet
Sezgin; and Enis Tuna, senior vice-president, card payments system
marketing and Murat Erdag, senior vice-president, channels
management at Dexia-subsidiary Denizbank.