As reported earlier, Georgian TBC Bank has bought 51% of local Payme service. The company's financial director Georgy Shagidze told bne IntelliNews that the company intends to deploy digital banking here and to cover the entire population of Uzbekistan in stages.
TBC Bank is not going to enter the market with a traditional banking model, although there will be “smart branches”. In general, the bank intends to develop its business in the country by offering digital banking services – this is an inexpensive option that can be deployed in a short time.
The company, having become a leader in Georgia, has been steadily expanding in recent years, but it was carried out in stages. Having studied the neighboring markets, the bank decided to go to Azerbaijan, after a year of research into Central Asia, it enters Uzbekistan.
TBC ignores the already well-developed and highly competitive Kazakhstani market, since the backwardness of Uzbekistan is part of its attractiveness – the country has begun to open only recently, so “there is opportunity where to turn around”.
Moreover, the Georgian company is well aware of what is happening in the country now – Georgia has already gone through all these reforms. Yes, now the penetration of banks in Uzbekistan is low, but the International Monetary Fund predicts that this sector will be the largest in the region, Shagidze said.
Penetration rate of the Internet and smartphones is also low, but has already been growing rapidly. According to Shagidze, there are 4 million smartphone users in Uzbekistan, which is already the majority of the population of Georgia. And this figure continues to grow, because Payme alone has 1.3 million users.
Although the digital strategy is the main focus of the project, TBC plans to open about 80 “smart branches” to support business growth, which largely depends on technologies such as intelligent terminals, where customers will be able to access banking services using cards and PIN codes.
“The branches will be more like the Apple Store than the bank,” Shagidze adds.
The company will start its activities in Tashkent, but then it will be released in other major cities of the country.
TBC Bank is a leading bank in Georgia, established in 1992. In 2014, it entered the London Stock Exchange. As part of the IPO, it attracted almost $240 million with a capitalization of $640 million. TBC has received the award as one of the best in Central and Eastern Europe for several years in a row. In 2018, it introduced a fully digital bank Space.