Liberty Bank: Ubiquity Taken to the Next Level

Liberty Bank: Ubiquity Taken to the Next Level

The FINANCIAL -- Net Interest Income of Liberty Bank increased by 11.1% y-o-y to GEL 60.6 million in 2013.

The FINANCIAL -- Net Interest Income of Liberty Bank increased by 11.1% y-o-y to GEL 60.6 million in 2013. The improved operating performance of the Bank in Q4 2013 well positioned the Bank for a confident start to 2014. Partnership with Smartex enabled the Bank to reach over one million younger clients. Meanwhile the elderly population in Georgia has kept up well with technological developments. More than 30% of their transactions have shifted to remote channels.

“Based on January’s results, the Bank’s average monthly revenue in Q1 2014 is expected to exceed GEL 10 million, a material improvement q-o-q and a very sizeable one on a y-o-y basis. As our retail lending franchise continues to perform well, our Net Loans has grown in Q1 2014 by approximately GEL 50 million, which will provide a solid foundation for the further improvement in operating profitability in Q2 2014, before the capital constraint kicks in once again. Overall, if we succeed in reaching our annual targets, the Bank may be expected to achieve in 2014 ROAE of approximately 12%. This, however, is predicated on being able to sustain the rapid growth of the loan book, notwithstanding the capital constraint which will become more pronounced later in the year,” said George Arveladze, Director General at Liberty Bank.

Q. How does Liberty Bank position itself among the other banks in Georgia?

A. Currently Liberty Bank is the third largest bank by total assets, having started as 7th in 2009. We are proud to service the highest number of retail clients in the country. An innovative approach to expanding our channels took our ubiquity to the next level and has enabled us to service clients at 700 points instead of the less than 200 in 2009; and importantly, the last four years have been profitable, enabling us to regain customer and shareholder confidence.

Q. Please can you describe the recent trends in your bank’s development?

A. To name a few, I would say a rapid commercial growth outperforming the market almost two times, ubiquity taken to the next level and keeping ourselves in line with the technology, driving higher connectivity in the everyday lives of our customers.

In the last four years Liberty has transformed into a higher performing business that can be resilient in a highly developed and competitive banking sector. Most importantly, our increased client base is measurably better able to do what they want to achieve. The Bank itself is better capitalized, highly liquid and better positioned for future commercial opportunities.

Q. What have been some of the novelties that you have offered to the market?

A. There have been quite a few, however I consider the most significant ones to be the following: new channels and products that helped us to capture unbanked clients and service the existing ones better. We were the first bank in Georgia to introduce mobile branches and agency banking points, processing more than half a million transactions per month and servicing more than 250 villages in Georgia. USD-based mobile banking was also one of the novelties we’ve pioneered, currently counting more than 70,000 users and growing rapidly due to established partnerships with mobile operators. Liberty Bank also operates one of the largest local payment systems and cards bases in Georgia, which has enabled us to access a significant portion of the unbanked population in 2013 and 2014.

Another significant part of the Bank’s turnaround was shifting more than 50% of total transactions to remote and online channels.

Q. Is Liberty Bank still mainly a bank for pensioners?

A. Liberty Bank has historically been a major player in projects with high social and economic substance; however since 2009 we have attracted an impressive number of new clients and currently the recipients of state pension comprise approximately 50% of our 1.6 million client base. We are also very proud that the elderly population in Georgia has kept up well with technological developments and more than 30% of their transactions have shifted to remote channels.

Liberty Bank’s partnership with Smartex was quite a novelty in terms of acquiring young, technology-savvy clients. The flow of younger clients has led to developing innovative tools for email and mobile marketing, enabling us to reach over one million clients several times per month.

Q. Have there been any changes in your corporate social responsibility strategy?

A. Absolutely, since 2009 we have put a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. Some examples off the top of my head are: sponsorship of the national teams in rugby and basketball; football teams “Kolkheti”, “Baia”, “Olimpi”; organizing events supporting startups in Georgia - the “Digital Summer” and “Startup Weekend”; and just recently we offered a sponsorship package to Georgian swimmer Irakli Bolkvadze who is likely to compete at the world championship. We are one of few companies in Georgia offering paid internships to up to 30 talented students every year.

However we do not limit ourselves to financial support, we stress the importance of communication with the younger generation, and thus the management board tries to accept every pro bono speaker invitation from a variety of educational and professional institutions.

In 2014, we plan to further expand our efforts by offering novelties in social crowd funding and contributing even more to the education and development of the country’s youth.

Q. How do you see Liberty Bank developing over the next few years?

A. Liberty is already a top player in retail banking, with a rapidly growing market share. Every year we will be more ubiquitous, more connective, technologically advanced with a large and diversified retail and SME customer base. “The bank for everyone, everywhere”.