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Tinkoff Bank: encouraging ideas and innovation is part of our DNA

Friday 27 April 2018 | 08:49 AM CET

Maxim Yevdokimov of Tinkoff Bank says that despite serving 7 million customers and employing more than 18,000 staff, Tinkoff still retains its startup spirit 

“Russia’s first and only direct bank”, Tinkoff Bank is a “purely online bank” - could you elaborate a bit on its 12-year history and how would you would describe the DNA of the company?

Russia’s serial entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov established Tinkoff Bank as a branchless credit card issuer in 2006. It was the first branchless lender to operate in Russia and the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2013. Just over a decade since its inception, Tinkoff is now completely cloud-based and offers products ranging from current accounts and online securities trading for individuals to accounting and tax support services for small and mid-sized businesses.

Tinkoff Bank is part of London-listed TCS Group Holding Plc, which also includes virtual mobile operator ‘Tinkoff Mobile’, direct insurer ‘Tinkoff Insurance’, and ‘Tinkoff Software DC’, a network of development hubs across Russia. Using its platform, Tinkoff sells both its own products and services, as well as those of its partners, to customers across Russia.

Despite having grown to become an independent digital bank, serving some 7 million customers and employing more than 18,000 staff, Tinkoff still retains its startup spirit.

An open, egalitarian culture where everyone is encouraged to speak up and everyone’s ideas are valued is an integral part of our DNA. This is even reflected in our Moscow headquarters, where all meeting rooms have transparent walls (or no walls at all) and the open-space arrangements encourage discussion and collaboration among employees.

What market segments do you service? What is the general profile of a consumer most eager to join Tinkoff Bank, and what are the reasons behind the choice?

Tinkoff Bank is serving both retail and corporate customers (business banking). People between the ages of 18-35 are the ones to wholeheartedly embrace everything Tinkoff has to offer. This segment of the population normally has different expectations when it comes to banking. They want everything to be available on-demand, in an easy-to-use mobile or online format. This generation is essentially forming a new banking culture, which is better suited to their lifestyle.

Quantitatively, there are tangentially more men than women among our customers, and more android users than those using iOS. Also, the majority of our customers prefer to use Tinkoff’s services via its mobile app, rather than via a desktop computer. Generally speaking, Tinkoff customers represent a smart, plugged-in, mass-affluent segment of the population.

Can you share some insights on the collaboration between Russia`s central bank and the Ethereum-based blockchain prototype initiative ‘Masterchain’ for financial messaging, a collaboration destined for banks in Russia? How do your customers benefit from this development?

Tinkoff Bank is part of Russia’s fintech association, which includes several financial and banking industry players, as well as the central bank. The purpose of this group is to study and test the applications of the newest technology, including blockchain, in banking. The association is testing blockchain applications for inter-bank transfers with the end-goal of making these transactions faster, more efficient and secure.

These applications are aimed at lessening the burden placed on the banks’ IT infrastructure. Once perfected and adopted, they should help consumers access more efficient banking services, especially inter-bank money transfers, at a lower cost. At Tinkoff, we are also researching possible uses of blockchain technology in our development centers.

Since Tinkoff Bank is transitioning to become an online financial marketplace, how are you planning to accomplish this (e.g. what partners do you work with)? What is on the roadmap for 2018 and beyond?

We have achieved our goal of becoming a financial supermarket (both through our online portal and our mobile app) and we are broadening our objectives to become a one-stop-shop for all of our customers’ lifestyle needs. In addition to getting a loan and managing one’s ongoing spending on utility bills, traffic tickets, mortgage payments and other inevitable expenses, Tinkoff customers will also be able to book airline tickets, reserve tables at their favorite restaurants, find info and then purchase concert tickets and make other exciting acquisitions all without leaving the Tinkoff app. The goal is for customers to make all of their unavoidable and leisure-related spending easier and more enjoyable and make leaving the app unnecessary for any product or service they want to buy.

In order to further this goal, Tinkoff has partnered with many providers of products and services outside of banking, including travel sites such as Booking.com, concert and theatre-booking portal Kassir.ru, and many others. The bank has also launched Tinkoff Stories, lifestyle content that goes out to customers. This content is becoming more and more customized to each particular user and his or her needs. Tinkoff has also began producing a lifestyle magazine with unique and slightly cheeky editorial content.

A targeted move towards wider lifestyle services with better customization towards each customer helps Tinkoff offer a wider array of products and services, marketing them more efficiently. It also helps increase customer retention and engagement.

Do you see new “challenger banks” coming into Russia, and are you planning to expand to other markets?

Other players do try to compete, including local startups and traditional banks, which are developing a greater digital presence. However, we have a big advantage having come to the market so early on and having by now achieved unprecedented scale for what is still a nimble, cutting-edge digital business. In terms of other markets, we always keep an eye on opportunities outside of Russia. However, there is still so much to do locally, so it doesn’t make sense to divert our attention from Russia just yet.

About Maxim Yevdokimov:

Head of Mobile and Digital Strategy at Tinkoff Bank Maxim joined Tinkoff in 2013 and is responsible for defining and executing the lender’s mobile and digital strategy, including managing its mobile app. Prior to joining Tinkoff, Maxim has held various positions (CJSC MOBI.Money, Summa Telecom Ukraine). He also worked in the mobile and gaming content industry and was head of products and services at Megafon.

About Tinkoff:

Tinkoff Bank is the world’s largest independent digital lender. It is Russia’s leading provider of online retail financial services with around 7mln customers across the country. Leveraging its high-tech proprietary online platform, Tinkoff has no branches and services its customers via online channels and its call centre.

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