Russia’s disruptor Tinkoff Bank is the only neobank to record profit within 3 years of starting its operations:
Tinkoff Bank, the Russian neobank headquartered in Moscow, is the world’s largest digital bank in terms of customers – more than 11.2 million in Russia itself. The bank offers a range of services, from mobile personal accounts, services for business, investments and insurance products; it is also Russia’s second-largest issuer of credit cards. It has recently diversified into areas like travel, ticketing and bookings services, available through its app.
Tinkoff Bank has developed its offerings making use of high-end technology like biometrics, AI and blockchain and it now aims to have 20 million customers in a short period of time.\
The bank was promoted as Tinkoff Credit Systems way back in 2006 by a Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov. A cycling enthusiast and sponsor of road cycling events in the country, he invested around 70 million in his venture. The bank launched its first credit card in 2007 and attracted investment from US banking giant Goldman Sachs. It came out with mobile banking in 2011 and floated an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2013, collecting $1.1 billion. Subsequently, the firm rebranded itself as Tinkoff Bank and introduced its business banking facilities, before rolling out investments and integration with Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Android Pay over the following years.
Today, it offers loans, credit facilities, SME banking, and personal accounts. And there are no physical branches. It employs more than 24,000 people, from around 4000 at the time of its IPO in 2013. Tinkoff Bank is described as an ‘online financial supermarket living in the cloud’, providing a full range of digital alternatives to established retail banking products and services for both individuals and businesses. These include current accounts, loans, investing, savings, insurance and mortgages.
It has recently tested successfully its AI-powered voice assistant within its mobile app, called Oleg. Oleg helps customers in everyday finance and lifestyle banking tasks, such as facilitating cash transfers between Tinkoff Bank accounts, booking a table at a restaurant, or buying a cinema ticket.
PROFITABLE IN A SHORT TIME
What distinguishes the bank from other neobanks the world over is that it has been profitable from the 3rd year of operations way back in 2009. Some of the other accomplishments of the bank are:
- A valuation of $5.6 billion on the London Stock Exchange
- Increase in share of non-credit revenues from 30% to 37% in H1 2020
- Net profit ratio of 22% and a healthy cost to income ratio of 37% for FY19
- 70% of employees at its headquarters in Moscow are IT specialists
- The bank’s mobile-first approach, now including advanced biometric authentication with voice recognition, started as early as 2011
- Most business processes at the bank are powered by machine learning and AI – from customer on-boarding to day-to-day services
- 100% of incoming messages are processed by robots, while 30% of calls are handled without human intervention
- Its AI-based voice assistant Oleg can recognize and interpret different user commands, ask follow-up questions, solve problems and speak on various topics.
Its mission is to help users navigate within the Tinkoff platform and make customers’ lives simpler.
Tinkoff Bank in on the Bank of Russia’s list of 13 systemically important banks in the country. Its strong business growth and its extensive customer base are the factors that influenced the central bank’s decision. These 13 banking institutions account for about 77% of the Russian banking sector’s total assets.
The bank has introduced a metal credit card, Tinkoff Black Metal, a symbol of style and affluence for the rich and influential. Metal credit cards offer high-value services and is a tool for differentiation and retention strategies. The Tinkoff black metal cards offer unique features such as cashback on every purchase, commission-free money transfer to cards issued by other banks, travel insurance, and free access to airport business lounges. There is no fee for customers but they are required to make a minimum monthly spend of 20,000 rubles or maintain a minimum balance of 3 million rubles.
The bank launched Russia’s first fully digital ATM. Called ‘Kesha’, it features a 32-inch screen and does away with a physical keyboard and receipt printing.
Tinkoff Bank now plans to expand to South East Asia. Its parent TCS Group Holding, has said it would spend up to $200 million of its own funds in the first stage of an expansion drive in South East Asia, which includes launching in the Philippines. The group has also announced it would spend 20% of capital it raises on international expansion, with the other 80% earmarked for the domestic Russian market.