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Kostas Tovil for In.gr: Digital bank available 24/7 on mobile

Kostas Tovil, our Market Leader of Greece, was reached by the leading Greek media – in.gr to share more about the digital experience we provide to our customers. He shared what’s the secret sauce behind our accelerated growth on the market, with reaching 3,000 merchant locations, serving tens of thousands of consumers, and much more. You can read below:

 

tbi bank is a mobile-first challenger bank that operates in Southeastern Europe and holds a leading position in alternative payment solutions. The bank has been serving customers in Greece for one and a half years, building on its successful track record in Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, and Lithuania.

More specifically, tbi bank facilitates small and medium-sized enterprises in increasing sales and enhancing customer satisfaction. Additionally, the bank offers consumers innovative financial products and services designed to simplify their lives. Through a variety of digital channels and trusted partnerships, tbi bank is present in nearly 20,000 merchant locations, has a total of 2 million customers and issued nearly 550,000 loans in 2022. Its business model and customer-centric approach have resulted in becoming one of the most profitable banks in the Southeastern European region.

In the Greek market, tbi bank has achieved significant growth, expanding to over 3,000 merchant locations in just one year. It now serves thousands of consumers who are increasingly embracing its products. Convenience, speed, and flexibility are the features that make tbi stand out, offering benefits to both its partners and consumers.

You have recently completed one year since you started your activity in Greece. Your decision to enter the Greek market was of strategic importance. Do you believe that tbi bank’s performance in the country so far vindicates your decision?

It is a fact that our activity in the Greek market counts a little more than a year. Nevertheless, tbi bank has extensive experience in the field of alternative payment methods from its already successful activity in the markets of Southeastern Europe. As a result, our existing expertise could easily be combined with the gap that existed in the Greek market, as alternative payment methods have been lacking in the country until recently, both for businesses and consumers. Our strategic choice to enter the Greek market was also based on its great potential, considering that companies had made large investments in e-shops and physical stores, both in terms of marketing and customer service, as well as in terms of products.

Our progress so far not only justifies our decision but is also positively evaluated. Today, we are present in over 3,000 merchant locations and serve tens of thousands of consumers. However, the most significant aspect for us, which also motivates the development of new products and solutions, is the recognition and trust we have garnered in this short period of time from our existing customers who are increasingly using our products.

In the last year, tbi bank has expanded its network of partnerships in various industries through Buy Now Pay Later, and it has also extended its sales teams beyond Athens. What are the next steps? What sectors and services will you prioritize?

At this stage, our presence in the Greek market relies solely on digital technologies, and our strategic plan does not include the development of physical stores. Nevertheless, all our digital services prioritize customer satisfaction, with a focus on our partner businesses and consumers. This people-centric approach is evident in practice: our bank representatives are always available through our call center, email, and 24/7 chat to directly assist businesses and consumers in understanding our products. So, even in our digital model, we provide a human touch to better serve our customers.

For tbi bank, it is strategically important to further enhance the openness of the alternative and flexible payment methods we provide, catering to diverse business sectors. These methods have no limitations, spanning from financing pet insurance and purchasing a used car to installing solar panels in our homes. Our primary goal is to offer every merchant the financing solutions they require, whether it’s for their digital customer service or physical stores.

Do you believe that reaching the goal of partnering with 10,000 businesses by 2025 is achievable, and what’s the secret to your success?

Given that we have surpassed 3,000 merchant locations in both online and physical stores within one year, achieving our goal of partnering with 10,000 businesses by 2025 is certainly within reach. In fact, we anticipate reaching this milestone a year ahead of our projected timeline, by the end of 2024. In our initial months of operation, when our brand and services were relatively unknown in the Greek market, we heavily relied on our go-to-market strategy. Today, we’ve reached a point where businesses proactively approach us to benefit from the advantages of our alternative payment methods. In many cases, businesses view tbi bank not only as a partner that boosts their sales but also as a gateway for international expansion, thanks to our established presence in South-Eastern Europe.

Do you believe that the fact that tbi bank is fully digital and thus intangible affects the development of trust-based relationships with its customers?

We’re a digital bank, but we’re always here to help when our customers need us. Trust is nurtured daily and is primarily built upon speed, convenience, flexibility, and the personal touch we provide. For example, when a customer applies for a loan online, they can check its status anytime. If they run into any issues, they can contact one of our bank representatives for direct and clear guidance. Plus, they can complete their loan application online in just a few minutes, avoiding complicated paperwork that takes up their time. After electronically signing the contract, the money gets into their bank account in a matter of minutes.

All of the factors mentioned above have played a significant role in fostering trusting relationships, evident in the increasing use of our products by our existing customers.

The term ‘digital’ should no longer be seen as a barrier to building customer relationships. A standout case in the Greek market is the success of Skroutz, our partner for more than a year. Even though they don’t have physical stores, they serve a large customer base and hold the No 1 position as the leading marketplace in our country.

[quoteblock content=”Given that we have surpassed 3,000 merchant locations in both online and physical stores within one year, achieving our goal of partnering with 10,000 businesses by 2025 is certainly within reach. In fact, we anticipate reaching this milestone a year ahead of our projected timeline, by the end of 2024.” author=”Kostas Tovil” author_position=”Market Leader, Greece” author_avatar=”https://tbibank.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/konstantinos-tovil_nobg-1200×1190.png” section_id=””][/quoteblock]

You identify yourself as a challenger bank. What differentiates you from a traditional bank?

For us, being a challenger bank is built on two key pillars: technology and culture. Our use of technology, as a player in the financial technology (fintech) field, is as advanced as banks that have been in the market for many years. At tbi, we leverage technology to enhance customer service, providing personalized products tailored to individual needs and ensuring convenient access to our services.

What truly sets us apart as a challenger bank is our approach to internal operations, the speed and agility with which we embrace new business ventures, our employee selection and integration processes, and our overall culture. In particular, the collaborative spirit that exists within the tbi team is what sets us apart from other banks, as we place a strong emphasis on our people and we want them to not be afraid to make mistakes, because we believe that this is the only way they can improve and grow.

So, I would not focus solely on the technology factor as the element that differentiates us from traditional banks, but more on our philosophy. We want to constantly strive for the best, offering customers services that respond directly and accurately to the complex needs of their daily lives.

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