How did Garanti Bank evolve in Romania?
Since the beginning of its operations in Romania, in 1998, Garanti Bank followed an upward trend of development on the local market.
In the 18 years of activity in Romania, there are several important milestones that led us to where we are – in the top 10 banks in Romania. Just to name a few, in 2007, Garanti Bank launched its internet banking service, Garanti Online, as well as Bonus Card, the first chip credit card on the local market. In 2012, we launched iLoanU, the first online platform through which clients can directly apply without any physical branch and track the status of their credit applications. Moreover, in 2013, the bank started allowing clients to make payments via smartphones through SEQR, a mobile payment solution. This year, Garanti Bank has launched its mobile banking app, for iOS, and we are currently working on developing the Android version as well.
Furthermore, in 2014, Garanti Bank issued a corporate bond offer of RON 300 million on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, with a five year maturity. That same year, the bank was also granted a loan of EUR 35 million by IFC, member of the World Bank Group, with the purpose of financing Romanian small and medium businesses. Out of the total amount, EUR 20 million were dedicated to lending to companies owned or managed by women-entrepreneurs.
In 2014, Garanti Bank also received a loan of EUR 50 million to finance SMEs from the European Investment Bank.
Important moments in Garanti Bank’s history also include significant awards. For three years in a row, Garanti Bank’s activity and good results were recognized by the world-renowned magazine Global Finance. As such, Garanti Bank was awarded in 2013 as “Best Consumer Internet Bank in Romania”, and “Best in Social Media in CEE Region”, in 2014 as “Best Consumer Internet Bank in Romania”, in 2015 as “Best Consumer Digital Bank in Romania” and “Best Integrated Consumer Bank Site in Central and Eastern Europe Region”, and in 2016 as “Best Consumer Digital Bank in Romania”.
Garanti Bank now has a national network of 84 branches and over 300 smart ATMs and plans to continue to extend its network in the future.
Why did Garanti Bank choose to develop its activity in Romania?
Garanti Bank already had a branch in Romania since 1998. Extension of the activities for a universal bank was a strategic decision given by the group, seeing the opportunities in Romania.
This was also a natural step for our mother bank, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi. Romania and Turkey have deep-rooted historical ties and a long-term economic cooperation, given the two countries’ geographical proximity, and the common interest for certain high growth economic sectors such as automotive, food production, FMCG manufacturing, wood processing, media and real estate.
How can the investment market in Romania be compared to the one in Turkey?
Both countries are very interesting for investors. Romania has a strong GDP growth and different sectors such as IT and services that attract new investments. In fact, according to Colliers International’s research report, Romania’s investment market has one of the highest growth rates in the European Union. This is why, the country is now considered to be an important hub for foreign investments. Turkey, just like Romania, has a great geographical position which enables the country to become an operational center for multinational companies. At the same time, both Romania and Turkey have proficient and well-trained work force.
What are the differences and similarities between the banking system in Romania and the one in Turkey?
One of the main differences between the two banking systems is the scale – the Turkish banking sector is one of the largest in Emerging Europe, with an asset size of over EUR 1054 billion, which is 10 times larger than the Romanian banking sector. At the same time, both banking systems are very well-regulated, monitored and governed.
Give us some details about Garanti Bank’s clients among Turkish investors?
In time, important Turkish companies have built a strong presence in Romania. In the last couple of years we saw more and more important Turkish corporations coming to invest in Romania, due to the country’s positive economic evolution. Some of them are: Yildiz Entegre, Arctic and Tat Nisasta, which have already invested and/or further plan to invest important amounts in their production facilities in Romania. The most recent Turkish investment in Romania is Logo Yazilim, a software & IT service provider in Turkey, which in September 2016 acquired the Romanian software market leader, Total Soft.
Garanti Bank has a sizeable cluster of Turkish clients to which we have offered a significant volume of loans (mostly in the corporate segment) in various industries such as food, industrial production, residential development, media, services etc. Most of them are based in Bucharest, but we also have clients that run their businesses in other important cities of the country.
How does Garanti Bank estimate the evolution of Turkish investments in Romania?
We are an active supporter of all entrepreneurs that invest on the local market, including Turkish entrepreneurs, especially taking into consideration the fact that Turkey is one of Romania’s most important trading partners outside the European Union and the sixth most important exports destination, with a 4% weight in Romania’s total exports.
For the following period, we expect the same positive developments given Romania’s stability and economic potential and the increased interest of investors from both countries to develop further areas of collaboration.
What does Garanti Bank do in Romania in order to support local entrepreneurship?
Part of Garanti Bank’s strategy is to actively bring its contribution to the development of the local business environment. Thereby, since 2013, we have been involved in a special project called the Entrepreneurship Workshops Program, organized by the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation (RBL) that aims to support local young entrepreneurs. Initially, 14 workshops have been organized. In 2016, RBL is planning to reach 90 entrepreneurship workshops.
Through these workshops, participants have the opportunity to get more information on how to develop a business plan as well as connect with other entrepreneurs. In 2016, the program will run in Bucharest, as well as in Craiova and Timișoara.
Moreover, we will continue to offer our support, as we did last year, to the Professional Women’s Network Romania Association (PWN), which focuses on offering women entrepreneurs all the information and instruments needed to develop their own businesses.
What are Garanti Bank’s objectives for the end of the year?
For the next year we are going to continue to follow our long term strategy for sustainable growth. As such, one of our main objectives will be to ensure that our core business lines (Retail, SME and Corporate) have a balanced development. We will also continue to focus on aligning our products and services to the newest financial technologies by incorporating the latest trends in digitalization and customer centricity.