Client Interview: VakifBank

By: Ali Engine Eroglu
October 2015

ALI ENGIN EROGLU

CIO VAKIFBANK

 Mr. Ali Engin Eroglu is a post-graduate from Gebze Institute of Technology. After holding a number of positions including Software Engineer, Project Manager, Manager and Executive Vice-President at various companies since 1996, Mr. Eroglu was appointed as Executive Vice President of VakifBank on July 29th 2010.

VakifBank is one of the largest banks in Turkey and also the most innovative, could you tell us more about the bank’s journey and growth?

VakifBank is the sixth Largest bank in Turkey, and we have been serving customers for over sixty years to provide excellent banking services. Recognized in both national and international circles, we have offices in New York, Bahrain and Arbil. VakifBank is a bank which has a high growth rate, and we are significantly investing in developing our technology infrastructure to help operate 902 branches, 3,289 ATMs and 161,993 units of Point of Sales.

VakifBank is in a unique place to compete with Barclays, HSBC and Deutsche Bank as we aim to encourage growth and development in the countries we operate in with modern banking practices.

What are VakifBank’s key strategic initiatives and goals?

Over the last 10 years there has been a strategic shift to increase market share whilst increasing customer retention rates. We wanted to meet the ever-changing customer demands through investments in digital products and new payment avenues. Investing in the technology infrastructure was a key strategic move, so as to increase non-interest income, customer loyalty and cross-selling through better services. Ultimately, we wanted VakifBank to be in a position to excel in customer experience through new technology.

What were the challenges that you faced or are facing while trying to achieve these goals?

VakifBank with sixty years of experience within the banking sector has seen many business challenges. Most recently, banks have been forced to embrace the digital age if they wish to compete in the current challenging environment. We’ve found that many Leading banks are experiencing glitches due to the pressure on Legacy systems to accommodate expansion of digital services and these faults prevent customers from accessing services.

Due to the challenging climate in the financial sector, banks are competing to be the first to meet the ever-changing demands from their customers. Mobile and internet banking has become an instant hit with our customers. So, we have aimed to decrease our interest fees, changing the focus towards product fees. Development of our bargaining

power through better customer experience will be a key differentiator between VakifBank and its competitors.

There was a real drive to transform the IT infrastructure of the company to meet the challenges of the digital economy, but this was a daunting task due to costs associated with a major structural transformation. There was a need to redesign systems to meet current business goals; we wanted Customer Relationship Management systems to be incorporated into the main infrastructure to ensure that data was accessible to every department. There was also a need to adapt the core banking structure to our new business objectives. It was, however, difficult to make these systems flexible enough for easy integration with new applications. We felt that the updated technology infrastructure was only achievable by stretching the capacity from current systems to breaking point.

How is SunTec helping you in achieving your business objectives?

After a long reviewing process we chose SunTec’s revenue management and business assurance solutions to financial services firms which have now been helping VakifBank implement innovative solutions since 2013. SunTec has been providing a middle layer that is able to match customer profiles with current offers, customizing the process to make it more appealing to customers.

Having a middle layer meant that services could operate using realtime data, by sourcing information from many different systems without interfering with the availability and scalability of these systems. Instead SunTec was able to offer higher scalability and availability to applications that would have otherwise been eating into the already stretched capabilities of our core systems.

What would you say were some of the most important benefits that TBMS-F* provided?

SunTec ensured that pricing and revenue services ran at optimal speeds to meet the demands of 12 million customers’ real-time transaction spending. This was possible with SunTec’s TBMS-F product suite, which is specifically designed to facilitate relationship-based pricing and centralized billing. Moving to a fee-based revenue model, we were able to achieve a flexible approach to customer offerings. Marketing offers were personalized to each customer based on unique data, allowing teams at VakifBank to be one step ahead of the competition.

Due to the accessible nature of the product suite, businesses as well as IT teams were able to easily manage the process. This was really important to us as we wanted an integrated, enterprise-wide solution.

This meant VakifBank didn’t have to employ extra IT staff to operate the middle layer, leaving time for the current IT team to focus on growing the business, rather than being caught up in time consuming administrative tasks.

The capacity of the core systems were kept at safe levels through a responsive product management system, with real-time reports, allowing myself and my team to investigate any application errors. This system allowed us to implement a rapid response business structure and able to provide a multi-faceted view on pricing, leads, new channels and revenue leakage, all through one simple user interface.

What are your future plans and how would you describe your overall experience with SunTec?

In the future, VakifBank wants to build on its success by developing customized bundle packages for both

current and potential customers. Whilst building up the capacity of campaign management systems to fully utilize the data being produced by new banking application channels, such as mobile.

Our overall experience has been exceptional. What SunTec has enabled us to do is surpass customer expectation, which in the digital age we live in, is a hard thing to do. Looking after our 12 million customers is a mammoth task, but we wanted to do more than just look after their money and investments. We wanted to offer them a personalized experience making their money go further. SunTec’s TBMS-F product suite is what we are relying on now to allow us to remain competitive in the challenging world of international banking.