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Interviews

Interview with Giorgi Kintsurashvili on the Bank of Georgia's digital innovation strategies

Monday 22 April 2019 | 08:45 AM CET

As digital transformation has become the new norm for banks, Giorgi Kintsurashvili, Digital Banking Innovations Manager at Bank of Georgia talks about the bank’s innovative banking products and services

Could you please tell our readers more about the Bank of Georgia? What markets/segments do you target?

Bank of Georgia (BOG) is a leading bank in the country, with a history of more than 100 years of banking. Nowadays, BOG serves 2.4 mln customers, which is more than 60% of the Georgian population. BOG is listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (BGEO LN) since February 2012. We are serving customers with banking services in retail and premium, as well as SME and corporate segments.

What products are you currently working on? Could you please name some of the most important players in the fintech market, as well as banks, that you work or have partnered with?

Partnering with different market players has always been our bank’s winning strategy. One of the best examples for this would be the partnership with local IT company, Azry, who enabled us build the contactless public transport payments systems for the two biggest cities in Georgia, which makes it possible to pay for transport directly from your debit or credit card.

For the last 3 years, Bank of Georgia has successfully developed its digital banking channels. Nowadays, we have up to 400,000 active users in mobile banking and the number is growing. So, our current challenge is to keep innovating and implementing the projects that will make our users’ lives easier. One of the recent projects that we have launched was the possibility of making QR payments using mobile banking application, which is a kind of experiment to test if users are going to love it.

In order to keep implementing innovative ideas to our bank, we have developed an Open Banking strategy supported by a platform called BOG Fintech. The platform supports the local fintech community, and by providing access to our bank resources, we help these businesses go to market more successfully.

We already provide 5 API services for companies targeting business clients, an API Sandbox for innovators to build prototypes easier, and soon we will be launching the first payment API on the market, which will help ecommerce companies develop better payments for their platforms.

Can you paint a picture of the Georgian fintech landscape, as it looks like at this moment?

Open Banking is quite a new term for Georgia. We are in a country which is not covered by PSD2 yet. Bank of Georgia understands the value of partnerships with fintech startups, this is why we launch our program and keep building on the culture of partnerships between established and new companies in the financial industry.

Besides these, we have quite a few fintechs and tech startups in Georgia. The ecosystem is quite new and it still lacks lots of the components to be globally successful. But we are lucky to have some startups like Optio AI and QuickCash.credit, who have managed to raise seed investment locally and now are building their companies with global ambitions. We are very proud that Raisin, one of the top fintech companies in the world, has been founded by Georgian entrepreneur, Tamaz Georgadze, which shares his experience with the local startup community and Bank of Georgia.

Achieving the required level of responsiveness and innovation requires a fundamental shift in culture and leadership approach. Could this pose a problem for traditional banks?

In Georgia, startups never thought that they could partner with banks. The idea of collaboration is something new for Georgian corporations, however they have to understand, that partnerships will bring more value rather than competition with small companies.

Fortunately, there is a number of banks, as well as insurance and healthcare companies, who have prioritised digitalisation, which makes them more motivated to implement innovations in their products and services. I strongly believe that this opens up the opportunity for startups to build the products that the market needs.

You attended MoneyLIVE Spring 2019 | MoneyLIVE Banking & Payments Conference, in March, an event dedicated to payments innovation. What are the key-takeaways from the event? What new ideas and perspectives did you leave with for the rest of 2019?

This conference is a really good opportunity to meet other people from the industry, have meaningful talks with them, in more private atmosphere, and share experience. This is extremely important for the people in the area of innovation, as most of the new projects have lots of questions. Sharing your thoughts with someone who has same struggles helps you understand what you do right and wrong.

About Giorgi Kintsurashvili

Giorgi is part of the Georgian startup ecosystem since the first days of its development. He gained experience while working with the startup community and the government. In 2017, he joined the Digital Banking Innovations Team in Bank of Georgia, developing innovative products and creating partnership programs with the local fintech startups.

 

About Bank of Georgia

JSC Bank of Georgia is the leading Georgian bank with a market share of 34.7% (based on total assets), 33.5% (based on total loans) and 34.9% (based on client deposits). The Bank offers a broad range of retail banking, corporate banking and investment management services. As of 31 December 2018, Bank of Georgia served approximately 2.4 million client accounts through one of the largest distribution networks in Georgia, with 271 branches, the country’s largest ATM network, comprising 876 ATMs, 3.115 Express pay (self-service) terminals and a full-service remote banking platform and a modern call center. For more information about Bank of Georgia, please visit http://bankofgeorgia.ge.

Bank of Georgia is listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Bank of Georgia has credit ratings from global rating agencies: ‘Moody's: ‘B1/Ba3’ (foreign and local currency), Fitch Ratings: ‘BB-’ (long and short term issuer default ratings); outlooks are ‘Stable’.

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