Garanti launches innovative loyalty credit card
Following the success of its loyalty-based Bonus Card credit card, Garanti Bank in Turkey has launched an innovative, user-configurable credit card called 'Flexi', which allows cardholders not only to design their own card but also to set their own interest rate and loyalty reward type and ratio.
After the recent announcement by America First Credit Union that it was to launch a Picture Perfect Visa card that allows cardholders to place almost any digital photograph of their choice on the front of their card (see 9 Jan. 2006), there is no doubt that personalisation of credit cards is a coming trend. And so Garanti Bank has launched a truly customisable card: Flexi.
Tailor-made terms With so much success in the credit card relationship arena (see 2 Aug. 2004 and 18 Oct. 2004), Garanti Bank decided to take the personalisation of credit cards - in terms of both features and loyalty rewards - to the next level by launching the Flexi Card. Flexi allows cardholders to create a card with the interest rate, the reward system, the card fee, and even the card design of their choice. The card involves the customer in the process of card creation from the very beginning, giving them a sense of control, and a choice of some 9,000 customised combinations.
Flexibility needed According to Ergun Ozen, CEO for Garanti Bank, "Our focus has been on customer satisfaction for years... We believe that Flexi will capture a different audience - one in search of personalised services."
Garanti Payment Systems' CEO, Mehmet Sezgin, added: "After the extraordinary success of Bonus Card and Shop&Miles, we believed that the ideal credit card for any given person could only be developed by that person; every cardholder has different spending and payment preferences. So, to answer each different need, we designed Flexi Card."
Customisation options During the application process on the web, applicants can manipulate over ten parameters or variables (such as the reward rate and type, interest rate, card fee, and campaign type) to create their own preferred combination. For the faint of heart, there are also four ready-made packages that provide commonly requested combinations. The four ready-made packages can also be ordered through Garanti Bank branches.
Features Mary's choices John's choices Package name Full Flexi Super Bonus Flexi Interest rate 3.95% 5.95% Reward rate (Bonus points) 0.5% of spend 1.0% of spend Extra reward (campaign type) Extra 1% in all restaurants Extra 1.5% on highest spend of the month Statementing By e-mail (attracts 5 YTL Bonus reward) By post (no extra reward) Card fee 62.50 YTL fee + 75 YTL reward = 0 YTL 35 YTL fee + 35 YTL reward = 0 YTL Reward Bonus left 17.50 YTL 0 YTL Card design Vertical Flexi, in Green Picture of his daughter Flexi: 2 of 9.000 possible configurationsSource: Garanti Bank
Earn and burn options What differentiates the card from others in other countries is the flexibility of the reward system, both in earning and redeeming rewards. Cardholders can determine not only their reward ratio and type, but also choose from where they prefer to get additional Bonus points (whether it be a merchant category such as restaurants, or a retail store). They can choose to get more Bonus points or, if they prefer, more free instalment opportunities.
From a redemption point of view, cardholders can use their Bonus points as cash through the award-winning Bonus programme, or they use their points to buy air tickets. According to Sezgin, "Flexi, with its combined financial parameters and design options, is a truly flexible card product."
Cardholder-designed Cardholders can choose one of five different colour designs for their Flexi card. For the front of the card they can also choose any preset picture from Garanti's own photo gallery or use a digital photograph of their own. Cardholder's photographs can be uploaded during the internet-based application process.
Apart from the card carrying the new Visa logo, the customised design allows the intriguing option of having a 'vertical card', where the text and card number appears on the card in portrait rather than landscape layout.
Background All of the software needed for the Flexi programme was developed in-house by Garanti's own technology division. Garanti Bank recorded assets of US$24.4 billion in September 2005, and provides retail, SME, commercial, corporate and private banking services to over 5 million customers. At year-end 2005, Garanti Payment Systems was handling a total transaction volume of over US$25.8 billion with 160.000 POS terminals, five million credit cards, and 2.6 million debit cards.
In December 2005, Dogus Group and General Electric Consumer Finance (GECF) signed an agreement to form an equal partnership in Garanti as shareholders. GECF acquired half of Garanti Bank's ordinary shares held by Dogus Group (a 25.5% stake), while 49% of Garanti Bank is publicly held.