The emergence of Apple’s
iPhone has led to a flurry of applications from financial services
providers eager to tap into a tech-savvy demographic of young and
wealthy consumers. Turkey’s Garanti Bank, already an innovator in
the fields of cards and payments, has now launched its own app, as
Victoria Conroy
reports.

Garanti Bank of Turkey, the largest
credit card issuer in the country with a market share of 17.8
percent (or 7.8 million cards) as of September 2009, is no stranger
to using technology to reach the increasingly important demographic
of young consumers, and it is capitalising on the massive
popularity of the Apple iPhone to launch another ground-breaking
innovation in the Turkish market.

Garanti Bank’s ‘Shop&Miles’ credit card
loyalty scheme, the official credit card of Turkish Airlines, is
now available as an iPhone app, ‘Shop&Miles&Travel’, which
is free to download and also available to non-customers of Garanti
Bank. Every purchase made with a Shop&Miles card earns travel
miles, which can be redeemed for free domestic or international
flights.

Interactive game and travel
simulation

The app allows users to ‘virtually
travel’ around the world by plotting destinations, such as vacation
spots, and use a 3D simulation environment to pilot a plane around
the globe. Users can even take photos from the virtual plane. The
app also allows users to calculate the miles they are going to
earn.

A built-in travel guide enables users to
browse through cities around the world to help them plan vacations.
For each destination, users can explore hotels, restaurants, night
clubs, shopping malls and events around their map locations. They
will also have access to location-based services such as emergency
numbers including police and ambulance services.

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By GlobalData

Other features of the app include an automated
day planner – users can shake their iPhone to bring up suggestions
of what to do for the day. The app also makes available other
Shop&Miles promotional campaigns, and one-touch access to
Garanti’s mobile banking services and to the Shop&Miles
application SMS generator.

Although other financial service providers,
such as Barclays of the UK, have launched iPhone apps, these have
taken the form of game apps or single-feature mobile payment or
account services. But the success of these apps is evidence of the
appeal of both social media and mobile commerce and their
increasing convergence.

Barclays’ Waterslide game app, part of its
marketing campaign for its contactless debit and credit cards, was
launched in July and has become the number one free downloaded app
on the iPhone in 57 countries worldwide. The game immediately
captured consumers’ attention in the UK by garnering some 32,000
downloads on its first day and in the space of six months has grown
to over six million downloads.

Garanti’s app is the first in the European
market to combine game and banking facilities, and is also the
first iPhone app to utilise the latest development tools such as OS
3.0 Map, ShakeAPI, Coredata, OpenGLES for 3D graphics and OpenAl
for 3D sound.

Impressive results

Tarik Camurdes, innovation manager
at Garanti Payment Systems, told CI that the app took six months to
develop end-to-end, and that Garanti is already seeing impressive
results.

“We have reached 13,000 downloads and expect
to exceed 100,000 within a year as a result of our aggressive
development plan in 2010,” Camurdes told CI.

In Turkey, the iPhone is available through
telecom providers Turkcell, the market leader, and Vodafone.

“There are 3 GSM operators in Turkey [the
third is Avea] and Garanti has close business relations with each,
but Shop&Miles&Travel was developed independently by us,”
Camurdes added.

As of the end of 2008, there were over 400,000
Shop&Miles cards issued in Turkey.

By making the app available free and to
non-customers, Garanti is hoping to use it as a customer
recruitment tool to tap into the valuable demographic of tech-savvy
youth consumers who are the core buyers of iPhones.

“Shop&Miles&Travel is available for
everyone and free of charge. All you need is an iPhone or iTouch.
And yes, it is a good sales channel. As an example, in the first
four weeks after launch, around 20 percent of Shop&Miles credit
card applications via SMS were directed from our
Shop&Miles&Travel app,” Camurdes told CI.

The launch of the app is another frontier in
Garanti’s efforts to widen the appeal of Shop&Miles cards to
more potential customers, particularly those in the mid- and
upper-income segments. Earlier in 2009, Garanti added contactless
technology to all new Shop&Miles cards.

The popularity of the iPhone has seen a
plethora of banking and card-related apps being launched, and the
co-founder of the Twitter social networking website, Jack Dorsey,
has announced plans for an iPhone credit card payment service. The
‘SquareUp’ proposition, to be launched in 2010, has gone live in a
trial, allowing card payments to be accepted through a device that
plugs into the audio socket on the iPhone.

Receipts can be sent via e-mail or viewed
online, and SMS can be used to verify payments in real time.
SquareUp also lets merchants know whether customers are repeat
customers who may be entitled to some kind of reward or rebate.

 

iPhone