The use of banking virtual assistants in the Turkish banking sector increased by 250% in 3 years

Customers expect a seamless and multi-channel experience from banks. This expectation has been reinforced in the post-pandemic era, and led the banks to look for new ways to deliver enhanced digital experiences in the most efficient way. In such an environment, chatbots, voicebots and virtual assistants have been the most prominent new applications in banking for the last few years. We, as CBOT, reviewed the banking sector in terms of chatbot / banking virtual assistants usage, in which we are the market share leader, with our business partnerships with many banks such as Fibabanka, Garanti BBVA, Halkbank, ING, QNB Finansbank, T. İşbank, Turkey Industry Development Bank, Ziraatbank on virtual assistants. We have published the “Chatbot Usage in the Turkish Banking Sector 2021” Report. In this blog, we will cover the prominent topics on the subject.

39% of active digital banking customers in Turkey experience banking virtual assistants

According to January 2021 figures, there are 65.8 million internet users in Turkey, which means an internet penetration of 77.7%. The number of mobile connections is 76.89 million, which corresponds to 90.8% of the population. As these figures show, Turkey has a wide digital usage base. As a result of this, the innovative implementations in banking and the use of new-gen technologies are rapidly accepted by customers as long as they meet customer needs and provide a good experience.

Considering the use of chatbots, (In this blog, we will use the term “chatbot” to refer to both chatbots and the virtual assistants, for ease of expression), 41% of the deposit banks in Turkey already offer a chatbot experience to their customers via various platforms, 19% of them have an ongoing project on chatbot development or cover it within their strategic plans. On the customer side, 39% of digital banking customers experience banking chatbots. These figures show that both banks and bank customers are enthusiastic about chatbots.

Chatbots can serve customers through various channels, but channel preferences might have different structures based on the sectors. When it comes to banking, the website and mobile applications are the most common channels for chatbot positioning. In Turkey, 73% of the banks position their banking virtual assistant on their corporate website and 73% in their mobile application. The rate of banks that offer their virtual assistants to their customers both through their web sites and mobile applications is 45%. The diversification of the channels on which chatbots are available and the increase in the use of chatbots through WhatsApp are the two points that need consideration. According to the report, about one-third of chatbot-implementing banks offer their chatbot on WhatsApp in addition to other channels. While the use of chatbots on WhatsApp is more common in the e-commerce sector, this is not the case for banking currently. However, we anticipate that WhatsApp will also be used as an effective channel in banking in the upcoming period. In the last few years, Turkey banks’ offering live support options on Whatsapp or on their websites supports their strategies to be accessible anywhere and anytime.

What do bank customers mostly ask banking virtual assistants?

According to the report, in the frequently asked questions field, the customers use chatbots to learn mostly about loan types, interest rates and loan application (16%), loan interest calculations (14%), password transactions (10%), social chats (8%), credit cards (7%), exchange rate and stock information ( 5%) topics. 

Voice technologies are gaining ground in both customer service and digital channel strategies

One of the highlights of the report is the use of voice based virtual assistants. With the evolving customer expectations, customer services started to change with the focus on automation. Automation is included in both the text and voice channels of customer service to increase efficiency and manage costs better while responding to customers instantly and easily. The rapid improvements in voice technologies and the increase in consumers’ demands to use voice channels were also effective in the rise of this trend. With voice-based artificial intelligence technology, institutions can now implement end-to-end and holistic customer service automation and provide services to their users from all channels. In the report, we see that 36% of banks that already have a virtual assistant include voice technologies in their assistants, and some banks include voice technologies in their planning. This supports our observations in terms of the demand in the market as well as the predictions for the future of voice assistants.

Regulations will reinforce the increase in virtual assistant investments in the banking sector

The Turkish banking sector is considered as a pioneer in implementing new technologies within the service sector. When it comes to chatbots, in the current environment in Turkey, we see that banks with a widespread network and large customer base, as well as innovative medium-sized banks, act fast on virtual assistants and offer the possibilities of this channel to their customers.

Virtual assistants are now an important part of our lives. Organizations are implementing chatbots and virtual assistants both in their interactions with their customers and to support their employees in accessing information and solving issues. It is obvious that the pandemic has accelerated this process in many different sectors, and the Turkish banking sector is not an exception. The banking sector has implemented many different chatbots and virtual assistants with a variety of functions and channels, which can serve both through text and voice, and their volume of usage has increased exponentially in the last 3 years with the effect of the pandemic. Global researches show that the usage of AI based channels to interact with the banks has increased from 20% to 49%. 

On the other hand, new regulations regarding digital bank licenses and remote customer acquisition pave the way for digitalization in the Turkey banking sector. In the upcoming period, with the vision of these new regulations which include important changes such as becoming bank customers without visiting a physical bank branch, it seems clear that the banks will position virtual assistants as a digital channel, use AI-based voice technologies more in their customer services, and improve their existing assistants in terms of technology and experience in the upcoming period.