For TBC Bank (Georgia), SME Banking is a whole ecosystem that not only involves lending to SMEs or opening current accounts. Tamuna Zhizhilashvili, Deputy Director of Marketing Communications & Business Banking at TBC Bank (Georgia), talked about this during the Caucasus18 SME Banking Club Conference in Tbilisi (May 17-18, 2018).

Here, we publish key messages from Tamuna’s presentation.

About TBC Bank

Relationship model

At TBC Bank, concept of the Relationship model is developing during last 3 years,  so that today each affluent SME customer has only one relationship manager but is internally supported by the Product manager and Loan officer inside the Bank.

Digital onboarding

Though it only takes 5 minutes to register a business in Georgia (Georgia is ranked 9th of 190 countries in the latest Ease of Doing Business Ranking and 4th for Starting a Business – SME Banking Club), the standard process for opening current account takes up to 40 minutes.

To shorten this time, TBC Bank offers a remote process for customer onboarding and opening a current account within 5 minutes. The customer fills in a questionnaire containing 14 questions and the current account is opened in 5 minutes without visiting the Bank branch.

If the customer wants to visit the bank during the process of opening an account and sign, and store paper documents in his office, the customer can call the Bank instead of visiting in person and after the account is opened, TBC Bank, equipped with a fleet of ecofriendly cars, will visit the customer and deliver all the documents for signing.

Non-financial services

TBC Bank has been providing non-financial services for SMEs for 5 years. The main Bank’s activities are focused on:

  • Education. Since 2013, the Bank has provided around 15,000 trainings for small businesses. The Bank launched the educational portal (tbcbusiness.ge) and is also providing individual consultations and organizing regional events for customers.
  • Business Award. This is the largest Business Award in Georgia. TBC Bank has granted the award for 2 years. Last year, it gathered 700 participants. The event campaign runs for 6 months in Social Media and via direct campaigns (with no TV ads) which enables the Bank to reach almost one third of the Georgian population with a relatively low marketing budget.

  • Support for start-ups and new businesses (the website of the Startuper program – https://startuperi.ge/startuperi.ge) empowers customers to start new businesses and get financial and non-financial support from the Bank on preferential terms. Startaperi in Georgian means Startup Nation. The program consists of financial and non-financial support from the Bank. Non-financial support covers training, consultations, the web catalogue and media support. Financial support involves financing new businesses using loans. One of the core segments that the Bank is financing right now are new hotels. The demand for this kind of financing has increased due to the rapid increase of tourists coming to Georgia. Tourist flow increased significantly compared to the previous year and the hospitality infrastructure is not sufficiently developed for tourists in such large numbers. TBC Bank offers a loan for building new hotels that finances 60% of the cost. And the customer starts repaying the loan when the hotel receives its first guests thanks to a 2.5-year grace period on repayment granted by the Bank. Almost One hundred new hotels have already received financing through this program. The Bank is also financing Agri startups, for example, those that plant trees. The grace period in this case can be extended to up to 5 years – when the first harvest is carried out. The third type of lending product offered by the Bank involves loans of up to 200 thousand Georgian lari (EUR 70,000) for small startups that have been generating revenue for at least 3 months.

TBC Bank has been operating this program for a year and a half. All financed projects and customers receive business support from the Bank. This is not only about disbursement of the loan but also the development of the project and customer in later stages by providing consultancy, structuring the deal properly and involving the right people. The idea is to build an entire ecosystem around the customer that makes running the business more effective. Now, there are no overdue payments on these loans at all.

  • Chatbot for Business. Firstly, TBC Bank implemented the Bank’s chatbot into Facebook messenger for servicing customers. This was the first chatbot speaking Georgian in the country. The chatbot was created with the cooperation of a Georgian startup working in the area of AI. Then, TBC Bank decided to provide the chatbot to its business customers as well . This is a ready-made chatbot integrated into Facebook messenger that the Bank will provide its SME customers, allowing them to communicate with their customers without any development work on the part of the customer. Right now, the Bank has pilot projects underway that even offer online payment functionality integrated into the messenger. This is also an element in the ecosystem surrounding the customer that helps the business to operate smoothly.
  • B2B Platform for Business. This is the next step in creating an ecosystem around the customer. The Bank introduced the platform to promote cooperation and communication between app developers and small businesses. The platform businesstool.ge will connect app developers and small businesses to help SMEs run their business more effectively and promote the creation of new apps for businesses. The Bank wants to organize an Apps Challenge to promote and popularize the creation and usage of apps in customer businesses.

  • Introduced TBC Business as a brand. As SME Banking at TBC Bank means providing to the customer the whole ecosystem, the Bank has introduced the brand TBC Business, proving that the Bank really support businesses and that opening accounts and lending are only a small part of the services the Bank offers them.

The main aim of the Bank is to make doing business in Georgia easier and empower entrepreneurship development in the country. This is how the Bank plans to increase the number of its SME customers. This is TBC Bank’s strategy – to promote and facilitate entrepreneurship in Georgia.

Watch Tamuna’s presentation from Caucasus18 on YouTube: