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Turkish Bank Lets Customers Build Their Own Apps

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Garanti Bank, Turkey's second-largest private bank, has introduced a mobile dashboard called iGaranti that lets users cherry pick the features of their mobile banking apps. The customization capability is similar to the way people pick which apps appear on their smartphones' home screens.

Garanti partnered with Fjord, an Accenture Interactive-owned service design agency that also counts Citi as a client, to build iGaranti. The platform, rolled out in May, comes with a set of more than 15 apps, some of which are preloaded onto the dashboard, while others are added by the user. "Customers choose what to put on the interface," says Mark Curtis, chief client officer at Fjord. "It's a powerful way to change the relationship people have with money."

American banks are struggling to decide what app features benefit customers in a channel that has limited real estate and is often used on the go.

Beyond customization, iGaranti lets customers do a number of things most U.S. banks do not, including send payments to Facebook friends, use voice control to initiate money transfers, scan QR codes to withdraw money from ATMs without the need to insert physical cards, and make one-click transfers into savings counts. iGaranti works with third-party apps such as Bonubon, a daily deals site; Markafoni, a private shopping site; and Biletix, Turkey's equivalent of a Ticketmaster.

The dashboard makes available interesting apps related to financial health. Take CashTank, for example. The app displays a customer's spending patterns on a gas tank visual to show when he's running on a full tank and warning him when he's nearing empty and could overspend. Another app, Moneybar, which includes visuals of rainstorms or sunshine, offers predictions of people's finances based on the past six months of their spending, saving and cash flow habits, and then serves up offers such as savings accounts or micro loans. The visuals are meant to quicken the understanding of a financial state. "It's much easier for people to absorb a picture than text," Curtis says.

The PFM-related apps are somewhat reminiscent of offerings from Simple, Moven and PFM vendors like Banno, all of which are designing functionality meant to help consumers know at a glance whether they can buy a Calvin Klein bathrobe.

In designing iGaranti, Curtis said time was spent brainstorming consumer profile types (such as a college student) and what apps they would need in their day-to-day lives. "We forget the bank exists and think about their money," he says. "Good designers are capable of empathizing."

The broader goal of iGaranti is to shift the digital banking experience to more closely match actual life by offering practical help.

The customizable app model is applicable to other countries, argues Curtis. To date, however, the idea is largely unexplored in the U.S. market, excepting some tangential developments: There are PFM providers that make their APIs available so banks can design the digital experience the way they want, while mobile banking providers let banks "turn on" features in the end user's app. Some banks also let customers make small adjustments, like setting up an auto login or switching from English to Spanish, while other financial institutions offer multiple apps for customers to download.

Meanwhile, international institutions have started applike stores for customers. Credit Agricole, a French bank, created an online marketplace to crowdsource ideas for new banking apps, while Deutsche Bank offers an app store for its corporate clients.

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