​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​WSBI gathers savings and retail banking sector leaders in Istanbul

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) gathered the members of its Board of Directors in Istanbul on 16 & 17 April at the kind invitation of Aktif Bank and Banka Kombetare Tregtare (BKT), affiliate of Çalık Holding and the largest bank of Albania. 


The Executives and high-level representatives of 30 savings and retail banks from 20 countries worldwide met in Turkey in view of the current Turkish G20 Presidency to issue a first set of WSBI Positions to be shared with the Turkish Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor. WSBI, which reunites some 6,000 financial institutions worldwide, is indeed following with great interest the current economic and financial reforms taking place around the world under the auspices of the G20 and has taken note of the ambitious agenda under the Turkish Presidency. 

At their meeting, members of the WSBI Board stressed once more that they are keen to participate in the development of plans on promoting inclusive and robust growth through collective action. At the same time, WSBI and its members are calling for a level playing field and proportionate regulation to allow WSBI members to continue to play their important role in providing financial access in a sustainable manner to broad segments of the population worldwide and to financing the real economy. Find a summary of the WSBI Institutional Positions and the detailed Position paper here​.

Deputy Executive Manager of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Koray Alper, attended the opening session of the meeting to exchange views with the WSBI members on G20 priorities and to showcase the new focus on SME Finance within the framework of the Turkish Presidency. Indeed, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has been asked by the G20 to establish a World SME Forum, which will act as a conduit to voice the expectations and concerns of the SME world to the G20 governments and the platform of business representatives called B20.

Mr. Heinrich Haasis, WSBI President, highlighted that “this new focus on supporting SME growth and access to finance is indeed of utmost importance. WSBI members stand ready to contribute and share their recommendations and best practices gained from their role as pioneers and champions of local finance for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).” In fact, WSBI has recently joined and will strongly collaborate with the SME Finance Forum, a G-20 initiative designed to improve access to finance resources for SMEs and catalyse effective SME financing tools.

As the global voice of savings and retail banking, WSBI is continuously striving to strengthen its partnerships with international organisations and stakeholders. Its members have therefore approved and launched a Memorandum of Understanding with Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) to promote financial inclusion and empower young people with joint actions. With increased international attention of both policy and financial stakeholders on financial inclusion, and financial services being one of the fastest growing areas for postal operators, WSBI also refocused its cooperation with the Universal Postal Union (UPU) by adding an Addendum and thus strengthening their Memorandum of Understanding. 

Meetings of the WSBI Board are indeed not only a legal requirement to comply with various statutory obligations, throughout the years, they have become a perfect occasion for WSBI members to meet, exchange experiences and knowledge and establish contacts with policy makers, likeminded businesses and global influencers.  Thus, the Secretary General of the Banks Association of Turkey, Dr. Ekrem Keskin, was invited to present and discuss the current state and future of the Turkish Finance Industry during the WSBI evening reception and dinner. 

The hosting organisations Aktifbank and BKT also gave insights into their banking approach towards the Albanian and Turkish market. This proved to be especially interesting since, in addition to successful operational results, the innovative and entrepreneurial business method of the Turkish Aktifbank has been registered with 72 international awards during the last years, including being named the World’s Most Innovative Bank in distribution channels by EFMA. WSBI’s member BKT on the other side, keeps receiving the award of “The Best Bank in Albania” throughout the last years by the pre-eminent British magazines Euromoney and The Banker. 

The next WSBI statutory meetings will take place in 24-25 September 2015 in Washington, D.C., prior to the WSBI World Congress on “Main Street Banking in a Digitised World”.