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Date: 25/10/2018 - 26/10/2018
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Innovation in Banking: Deepening the customer relationship through technology & collaboration​​

​Fifth edition of innovation workshop sheds light on customer relationship, customer centricity


Banking experts from various countries gathered on 25-26 October in Istanbul for the fifth edition of WSBI Innovation Workshop. Held at the Wyndham Grand Istanbul Levent hotel and co-hosted by UPT, the first national global money transfer and payment platform across Turkey, the workshop was themed  “Innovation in Banking – deepening the customer relationship through technology and collaboration". The workshop let participants deep dive into new disruption areas, including SME banking, collaboration, open banking and ecosystem banking. It also approached the subject of how to develop customer-centric, innovative products and services.

Istanbul – home of FinTech and banking innovation

Explaining why Istanbul was chosen for this edition's location, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director​ Chris De Noose said: “The Turkish banking sector is innovative, modern. Banks in Turkey have been highly enthusiastic about using new technologies to reach and engage their customers. Digitisation, mobile, payments innovation, collaboration and FinTech are the key trends in the Turkish banking system, all with the aim to provide better experiences for their customers."

​​​Examples of this innovative​ approach were highlighted in discussions by participants from five Turkish financial institutions and two presentations by Aktifbank and Albaraka Türk.

Experiences from different regions

The workshop began with opening remarks by WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose and a welcome speech by the host Mehmet Usta, deputy chairman of Turkey-based Aktif Bank, who is also chairman at Banka Kombetare Tregtare of Albania. W​SBI Innovation and Business Development

​Manager Natalie Staniewicz set the scene for the day by showcasing outcomes of previous workshops and giving insights into how open banking can carry the potential for banks to strengthen own capabilities and extend business model as well as expand integration capabilities and partnerships. Also highlighted and discussed open banking trends around the world and examples on how other industries are using APIs.

Image: Group work done by Jalal Douame and UPT's Bulent Sasti

"Go were your customer will be" – the mantra of the day

Jalal Douame, senior expert of Austria-based Erste Group, gave a presentation on new disruption areas and concrete examples including on the next field to be digitalised – SME Banking. Representing a bank not only active in Austria but also in Central and Eastern Europe, Douame explored ways the banking sector addresses customer centricity, which he notes is achieved through customer-centric leadership, data-driven decision making, empowering banks' front lines and continuous feedback for improvement. The question arose as to how to strike a balance between being data-driven versus product driven companies and how to enhance analytics capabilities to better understand the customer and provide better service.

Up next Yakup Sezer, head of business excellence and innovation at Albaraka Türk in Turkey, shared insights into the Turkish innovation ecosystem and the innovation journey of Albaraka Türk. Examples outlined included their in-house employee corporate entrepreneurship program Keşfetis, the incubator and accelerator Albaraka Garaj, their Inooster FinTech Venture Capital Fund and finally Insha – the fully Digital Islamic Bank to launch in Europe. He noted: “Our new corporate culture, which is intertwined with entrepreneurship, has enabled us to establish our own successful initiatives." ​

Insights from the CEE region were provided by Anton Remnev, who tackles strategy and development at Russia's Sberbank. He explained the role of laboratories in innovation management and steps to build a successful system: “There is a deep-rooted notion that innovations equal labs, incubators, accelerators, venture funds. These are important but insufficient prerequisites for building a system of innovations." The journey he outlined included learnings on IT architecture, people, process and culture.

​Finally, Betügül Toker shared insights on Aktifbank's efforts to build digital solutions that bring added-value to customers. Toker outlined the bank's ecosystem approach and what it terms a “next generation banking" approach through alternative distribution channels, constant innovation and various subsidiary projects. She said: “We are doing banking as well as FinTech for private customers, business and SMEs." 

Image: WSBI's Natalie Staniewicz leads four-team discussion.

Workgroup discussions

The workshop was not only about listening, but also about in-depth exchanges. 

Participants split into workgroups to discuss their ideas and challenges ahead based on four core questions:

- Where and how to integrate the concept of lifestyle and platformisation into banking?

- What are best approaches to collaborate with startups?

- How and in which areas can bank-bank collaboration be successful?

- What are ways to digitalise the SME and Business Banking offer?

WSBI Innovation initiatives

Collaboration during the workshop was not only discussed but actually initiated. WSBI launched its Fair Value Remittances Framework in collaboration with UPT, the first to sign up to it. The framework is designed to enable participating banks worldwide to offer remittances under fair commercial conditions. 

WSBI started the Innovation Workshop series in 2017 and have since then hosted such events in Brussels, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Barcelona and now Istanbul. More workshops are foreseen for 2019 and aim to dig deeper into innovation, FinTech and banking disruption topics. 

WSBI Innovation Istanbul.jpg

Image: Speakers sharing their company insights – Anton Remnev Sberbank, Yakup Sezer Albaraka Türk, Betügül Toker Aktibank (from left to right​​)

​WSBI and innovation​

WSBI sees innovation as a crucial ingredient to help its members ​thrive in the 21st century. As an international banking association that brings together savings and retail banks located on all continents, innovation and digitalisation can help foster closer customer relationships and better services while in the long term increasing financial inclusion and boosting sustainable, modern finance .

Backed by some 6,000 financial institutions with total assets of US$16.7 trillion and serving more than 1.3 billion customers in some 80 countries worldwide, WSBI voices the concerns of savings and retail banks through advocacy, representing the interests of its members towards international policy makers and standard setters on the main regulatory and other issues that shape international retail banking policy. It also helps members by fostering best practice exchange through activities like the Istanbul workshop. That exchange includes efforts to facilitate knowledge sharing among members, with FinTech companies and other strategic frontrunners through exchanges of information and experience at all levels within the organisation as well as in-house knowledge management, also with a view to identifying opportunities for business development and partnerships. ​

​More information

For more information about innovation workshops hosted by WSBI, email:​.