Innovation of the month: Garanti Bank’s voice-driven mobile banking

Efma feature

16 February 2017

Efma’s innovation of the month award for February goes to Garanti Bank for its Mobile Interactive Assistant, a virtual assistant that enables customers to perform banking transactions by voice.

Garanti Bank, one of the largest private banks in Turkey, has brought a human-like conversational interface to its iGaranti mobile banking app, enabling it to reinvent the customer experience.

Garanti Bank customers can converse with the Mobile Interactive Assistant (MIA) using natural, conversational language to enquire about their account details, transfer funds, get exchange rates, buy/sell foreign currency and a host of other functions, instead of tapping their way through the app. For example, customers can say: “I need to send 500 Liras to Ali in my contact list today” then dictate a description for the money transfer. Customers can also find out more about nearby shopping or savings offers, moving beyond simple, conventional, transactional banking to contextual banking that anticipates user needs based on an awareness of their habits.

“It is a fact that voice technologies have increasingly gained importance, and have become an indispensable part of digital technologies,” explains Kerem Abuc, delivery channels management Associate at Garanti Bank. “When you look at the world’s giants such as Apple and Google, the investments they have made in voice technologies have become an essential part of the applications, beyond just bringing a side feature to the main purpose. Voice technologies have now entered our lives both in the call centres and as mobile-integrated services. While the usual habit of dialling options to perform a transaction through call centres has given way to call steering by natural speech, voice has also started to become a replacement for touch-based communication in mobile and digital world.”

Especially in mobile applications, mobile services based on natural speech constitute important technological and innovative investments of institutions. “At Garanti Bank, following digital trends and pioneering innovations in digital banking platforms is one of our biggest objectives,” Abuc says. “In this context, this project is a very strategic and big innovation model.”

Abuc says that the solution also helps the bank to meet the needs of its visually impaired customers.“Although our mobile banking application was developed in a handicapped-compatible manner, facilitating the engagement of visually impaired users with digital channels is a very sensitive subject. In this context, MIA has become an application that makes life easier for these users, enabling them to perform their banking transactions in a much faster and convenient way. They are able to perform their transactions without having to look at the screen, and easily get answers to their questions in a way that is just like talking to a customer representative at the branch.”

MIA also provides an omnichannel experience. “Until now, certain transactions have had to be performed through certain channels. For example, there are transactions that cannot be performed through mobile banking, but can be performed via the call centre,” Abuc explains. “When users make a request through MIA for such a transaction, MIA instantly directs the users to the relevant transaction. For example, for a customer stating that he/she has lost his/her credit card, MIA immediately asks “Would you like me to call Alo Garanti right away to cancel your card?”, and if the customer says “Yes”, it directs the user to the relevant customer representative at the call centre. The customer does not have to log in again or verify his/her identity at the call centre. The transaction is immediately performed with all login information.”

Since MIA went live in January 2016, customer feedback has been very positive. The usage rate is approaching 60% and the ‘understanding capacity’ of the application stands at 90% - a very high percentage for such projects. Positive comments on Apple Store, Google Play and social media also show that customer satisfaction is high and that expectations are met. Customers are indicating that they find MIA to be more successful by comparing it to Siri.

Deadline for the March Innovation of the month is 6 March 2017. Please note that the Innovation of the month awards are reserved for Efma members. Submissions can be made on the Innovation portal

Keywords : P2P payments/Money transfer , Specific customer , Bank Products & Services , Digital/Mobile channels , Customer service , Contact centre

Geography : Turkey