In the fast-paced modern world of rapidly commodifying banking products, the features of which remain relatively similar, smart strategies are the single most powerful way to gain a competitive edge. For a leading Georgian bank, with significant initiatives and unprecedented banking products up its sleeve early on, rapid short-term growth at the crossroads of East and West could have been easy. But Bank of Georgia took the high road, emerging as a regional leader among the top digital banks in the world.
JSC Bank of Georgia (“Bank of Georgia”, “BOG”, or the “Bank”), a systemically important and leading universal bank in Georgia, is the core entity of Bank of Georgia Group PLC (the “Group” and on the LSE: BGEO LN), a UK incorporated and London listed holding company.
Reinventing customer experience: from big data to a bigger understanding
Amidst the global race to automate the world of business, it is no wonder that organizations strive to speed up routine processes and maximize output. Meanwhile, Bank of Georgia has taken the trendy concept of digital transformation to a whole new level—past workflow automation and enterprise IT. Leading customer relationship and experience management platforms, Salesforce and Medallia, have enabled the bank to engage in deep learning and transform feedback into actionable insights.
With the customer at the very center of its initiatives, the bank has emerged as a point of reference in the personal and professional lives of locals. By championing a digital-first approach to personalization, engaging with the local communities through various relevant touch points, and refining end-to-end digital journeys, Bank of Georgia has managed to create an immersive experience for its digital users. Digital card, peer-to-peer payments, bill splitting and money request, Investments, fully digital consumer lending process, effortless online buy now, pay later solution, digital onboarding, embedded online chat, and total redesign of the internet banking platform are among some of the most notable novelties that have redefined banking in Georgia.
“While digital transformation is both essential and inevitable, it has adopted new meaning in Georgia, where single rule seldom fits all and a great deal of scrutiny is an absolute must when dealing with an objectively intricate customer base. Here, at Bank of Georgia, we believe in the power of digital technologies to enhance the way we rethink our offerings and form meaningful, lifelong relationships with the members of our community,” says Nutsa Gogilashvili, Head of Human Capital and Customer Experience Management at Bank of Georgia, “For this purpose, we have been integrating leading customer feedback and relationship management platforms, Medallia and Salesforce, to keep pace with the ever-changing behavior of our users and to ensure maximum value across products.”
Some of the Bank’s recent accomplishments are certainly worth highlighting. Almost doubled NPS (net promoter score) of 47% (up by 20 points since 2017), as measured by an external service provider, speaks for itself.
Full redesign and customization of the consumer lending flow, though not the only aspect of an evolved offering, led to a rapid 48% increase of the Bank’s product offloading rate—from 21% for the first half of 2021 to as much as 31% by the end of the third quarter.
Extensive shift to digital has led to an impressive rise in active individual users across mobile and internet banking platforms, totaling almost 60% of the customer base at the end of the third quarter of 2021 —a significant leap from 38% observed just two years prior. Around 41% of these are active on a daily basis.
With 96% of all transactions in the third quarter of 2021 executed through the Bank’s digital channels, and almost half of all transactions going through mobile app and internet banking platform (a major increase from just 22% two years ago), Bank of Georgia was named one of the World’s Best Digital Corporate/Institutional Banks and the World’s Best Digital Consumer Banks 2021 . Global Finance recognized the Bank for Best Online Investment Management Services, Best Online Product Offerings, and Lending.
For a country with a population under 4 million and no more than 2.5 million internet users, where an absolute majority of its residents would have preferred to save cash at home just a few years ago, the results are remarkable.
Accelerating inclusion through digital-led recovery
A robust and vibrant banking system has the capacity to broaden the outlook of the most underserved member of any community. That is why digitalization is at the core of the Bank’s strategy, dedicated to driving sustainable financial inclusion in Georgia through cutting-edge tools and solutions across segments.
By revamping mobile bank, its financial mobile app, which requires no data package, Bank of Georgia brought financial services closer to those that may otherwise have limited to no access to internet and mobile data.
Business mobile bank, tailored for instant business transactions, payments, accounting, wire transfers, and various administrative tasks, was designed and launched in 2021 with the concept of full digital experience in mind. Inspired by and tailored to the immediate needs and wants of the Bank’s business customers, the new application is a one-stop shop for company finances. An inbuilt virtual Business Finance Manager, paired with convenient e-signature functionality, provides a single view of critical financial indicators, such as cash flow, growth rates, and average ticket size of transactions, and is an efficient way to manage company finances from virtually any location.
A similar feature, a virtual Personal Finance Manager, was also introduced in the mobile bank for retail, helping customers get in the habit of budgeting and saving by organizing personal finances, staying on top of spending, and setting savings goal to manage funds.
“We regard the digital experience as inherent to our brand identity and core to our strategy. We have been actively investing in information technology and building digital capabilities to offer our customers best-in-class digital channels that make the management of their daily lives and businesses easier and smarter,” says Vakhtang Bobokhidze, Deputy CEO, Information Technology, Data Analytics and Digital Channels, Bank of Georgia.
As a convenience banking evangelist on the market, Bank of Georgia continues to incentivize a cashless economy—key to its digital proliferation. Some of its latest products have been particularly helpful amid the pandemic, including Soft POS, an affordable card acceptance solution that enabled quick onboarding of thousands of micro-merchants who now accept contactless payments directly from their smartphones.
Building a beyond-banking ecosystem
As the team embarked on a journey of reevaluating the Group’s long-term objectives, the mission to mark Georgia, ripe with potential, on the global map of startup ecosystems became imperative. The vision was clear: Helping up-and-coming entrepreneurs scale up, network, and attract additional capital is the single most potent catalyst for unstoppable growth.
By partnering with one of the world’s leading VC and startup accelerator, 500 Global, and Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), the Group paved the way for world-class entrepreneurs in the region across 11 different business verticals —from AI-based e-commerce solutions and lending infrastructure to modern farming technologies, logistics, and real estate.
212% growth rate in valuation for a total of 28 graduating startups is truly impressive. Four of these—Agrolabs, Cargon, Cardeal.ge and PAYZE —have already made high-yielding appearances in Silicon Valley.
The ultimate way to prepare people’s lives for the future is by empowering them with tools they would otherwise have no access to. Such was the vision behind Investments by Bank of Georgia. The brand-new retail investment product, conveniently built into the Bank’s mobile bank, provides affordable access to U.S. stock market and promises to redefine the way citizens of Georgia redirect and leverage their funds to ensure long-term wealth.
As the Bank paves the way for the long-term financial health of locals, it has launched an educational platform dedicated solely to investment-related updates—from overview of the latest trends and global rankings to tips on diversifying the stock portfolio and more.
As financial institutions worldwide recalibrate for the future with COVID-19, Bank of Georgia is transforming full speed from a finite service into a platform with infinite possibilities. By leveraging open banking, it is genuinely reshaping the way Georgians think of money or gain access to holistic products while also defining the country as an innovation hotspot that is globalizing at full tilt.
From the looks of it, a borderless world might be far closer than we like to believe. Because, when the customer is at the center, there is always a way.