New opportunity for customers and developers.
Bank of Georgia has launched a new product, “Guaranteed Purchase”, giving their customers the opportunity to make the most reliable choice when buying an apartment. Each apartment offered within Guaranteed Purchase will be insured by the Bank. Bank of Georgia is actively involved in urban development issues affecting the city. In this regard, the Bank is constantly striving to innovate and successfully cooperate with various sectors.
Valeri Narsia, Deputy Director of Corporate Banking at Bank of Georgia, in an interview with The FINANCIAL, highlighted the important issues that the Bank is implementing in this regard.
Q: What role does business, specifically Bank of Georgia, have in the future of the city’s urban development?
“Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and the trend is expected to continue. The speed and scale of urbanization can bring certain challenges. Urban development policies seek to address a range of issues from managing urban expansion to environmental sustainability. While Bank of Georgia is not directly involved in urban planning, the Bank provides services to 200 active partner developers and supports up to 400 development projects.
Recently, we formed a special team of professionals who seek to provide personalized, even higher quality service specifically for developers.
In addition, we just launched a new product, Guaranteed Purchase, giving our customers the opportunity to make the most reliable choice when buying an apartment. More specifically, each apartment offered within Guaranteed Purchase will be insured by the Bank, which means that in unforeseen cases, customers will be able to get back the amount they paid. On the other hand, Guaranteed Purchase gives the Bank’s partner developers the opportunity to further develop their business and most importantly, prevent unfinished constructions in the city.”
Q: What are you doing to improve air quality and protect ecological spaces while developing urban constructions?
“At Bank of Georgia, we consider it our obligation to reduce any negative impacts on the environment and the communities which may be affected by the activities we finance. In 2020, Bank of Georgia aligned its corporate purpose and mission with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs). Given our footprint in Georgia, we recognize the role we do and can play in supporting the national commitment to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
Recently, The Bank introduced a new eco-friendly product – Energy Credit for solar power plants. Among all the benefits of solar panels, the most important thing is that solar energy is a truly renewable, clean energy source. We are seeing more and more businesses transition to this alternative, pollution free source of electricity. Along with benefitting from reduced electricity costs, our customers are actively reducing air pollution by adopting this eco-friendly product. And once the loan is repaid, they can use the released funds to further develop their businesses.”
Q: How does Bank of Georgia measure customer or employee satisfaction?
“The success of our strategy depends on how satisfied our customers are with the experiences they have while interacting with Bank of Georgia across different channels. In 2020, we embedded Medallia, a leading customer experience management platform, into our main channels and continued to proactively engage with our customers and use their feedback to constantly improve our products and services.
A key metric that we monitor in terms of customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). We measure the Bank’s NPS using an external service provider. Despite such a tough year, we are very proud to report that our Net Promoter Score reached an all-time high of 46% at year-end. We are also committed to employee engagement. By the end of 2020, our NPS reached an all-time high level, and we have seen outstanding improvement in our eNPS score compared to the previous year.
We also started to collaborate with Salesforce, the world’s leading customer experience management platform. This collaboration will play a fundamental role in obtaining a holistic view of customer needs, wants, and behaviours and providing integrated journeys and personalised experiences across all channels.”
Q: Is Bank of Georgia involved in CSR activities and what key projects would you outline in this regard?
“As a leading financial institution in Georgia, we are committed to doing business responsibly, which means looking at all decisions and business processes through the prism of sustainability. Sustainability for us is rooted in the understanding that by driving positive social and environmental impacts, we make our business more resilient and create long-term value for all of our stakeholders.
Rehabilitation and development of core infrastructure is one of the main objectives in Georgia. In 2020, Bank of Georgia financed/supported numerous interesting and important projects in different directions, including Roads, Transmission Lines, Civil Infrastructure, Water Supply Systems, among others.
The natural environment in Georgia is unique and precious – a valued and shared resource for all. We have partnered with Caucasus Nature Fund for the past 10 years to support Georgia’s Protected Areas.
Each year, Bank of Georgia contributes USD 100,000 to support 11 protected areas: Borjomi-Kharagauli, Lagodekhi, Tusheti, Vashlovani, Mtirala, Javakheti, Kazbegi, Algeti, Kintrishi, Machakheli and Pshav-Khevsureti. The money is used to maintain protected areas, maintain the ecosystem and finance ongoing costs.
As part of our corporate social responsibility programme, since 2016 Bank of Georgia has been supporting a number of eco-friendly social enterprises, focused on sustainability and environmental issues such as: Tene – a social enterprise using second-hand plastic bottle caps to make USB cables; Green Gift – a social enterprise aimed at finding environmentally-friendly solutions to the challenges of waste management, by collecting and recycling paper waste into new products which can then be sold; Plastic Watcher – a polyethylene waste recycling social enterprise using recycled polyethylene waste collected from local communities to create eco-friendly products and sustainable fashion accessories; Zero Straw – an edible drinking straw which leaves zero waste, whilst also making environmental protection fun and simple, and many more.”
Q: Parking is one of the biggest problems for the population today. Are there any plans to expand underground parking or build a multi-storey European-style carpark in future projects? Do you think urban development will restrict the movement of cars and what positive impact will this have on the ecology?
“The zonal-hourly parking programme, which is a well-proven practice in European countries, was launched in Georgia in 2019. The amount of the parking charge acts as a deterrent to using one’s car, however once zonal-hourly parking becomes more widespread, it will ease the traffic a bit and balance the demand for parking spaces.
In addition, developers are already considering the parking part with the construction of new complexes – houses / offices and offering customers a multi-storey carpark, either open or underground parking. From the customer’s point of view, parking has become one of the main priorities along with the growth of the vehicle fleet and parking problems.
Urban development is directly related to the development of transportation. The development of transportation, of course, has a positive impact on reducing traffic flows, easing traffic in the city a bit.
Like in most European countries, we will still have cars, but part of the population will prefer to use public transport on a daily basis and not their own car. This in turn will have a positive impact on the ecological environment, as 70-80% of our harmful emissions are CO2 emissions and 65- 70% of CO sources are cars.”
Q: What are Bank of Georgia’s priority issues and future plans for urban development?
“Operating with a sustainability mindset requires that we prudently manage risks as well as tap opportunities that support the wants and needs of our customers, empower our employees, and enhance the economic and social welfare of local communities while mitigating negative impacts on the environment. Reducing direct negative impacts from our operations, embedding climate change-related risks into risk management frameworks, raising awareness of climate-change related risks and opportunities, and helping our customers and the economy to transition to a low carbon future – these are some of the goals we will continue focusing on and consider material to our business.”