The FINANCIAL -- The number of companies creating mobile applications for staying in touch with their customers is increasing in Georgia. Customers are becoming more active in demanding applications of their favourite companies for their mobile phones as well. The industry representatives see a better future for the market in Georgia but complain about a lack of official service centres of leading smartphone producers.
There are about 200,000 users of iPhone in Georgia and around 21,000 Android and Windows-operated smartphones currently registered in Geocell’s network. Mobile app Georgia Android gives a list of all the most popular android apps and games for Georgia uniting more than 200 apps in one place.
Among the most popular apps are those offered by the leading banks TBC Bank, Bank of Georgia, Bank Republic and Liberty Bank. They allow users to carry out banking operations directly from their phones, pay utility costs and make transfers.
Other popular apps offered by Silknet include Ibaby, Iota Reader, Myvideo.ge, Kinoshi (movie listing and showtimes in Tbilisi’s cinemas), GPC mobile app, Taripebi.ge (provides users with the best currency exchange rates and the best fuel prices available in Georgia), Tbilisi Metro etc.
A programmer at iPhone + says that Gocha is one of the most demanded application. It is a simple application which allows users get live notifications while driving. The app says where speed cameras are located and what the speed limits are.
Almost all the broadcasting companies, news agencies and radio stations have their own mobile applications. Also, different ministries like the Ministry of Internal Affairs offer mobile applications which integrate services, information and communication tools.
As mobile users are overtaking the number of people using personal computers and mobile marketing offers a wide range of opportunities compared to internet marketing, companies in Georgia have started to use this opportunity to reach their customers wherever they are.
“Nearly everyone will be able to use smartphone apps, not just - as now - business people, social networkers and gamers,” said Sandro Asatiani, social media expert. “Today smartphone apps are used by companies to promote their brand or product, or to provide access to their existing products. In the future we will see a lot more use-cases, e.g. new products enabled by apps, mobile health, mobile selling, or mobile apps which help to improve working efficiency within a company. The mobile application market is growing in Georgia but is still too small,” he added.
“After creating an application we send it to Apple which checks how well the app is running. If it has some problems Apple refuses to distribute it,” said Levan Kiladze, Chief Executive Officer at Lemondo. “If the Apple and appstore officially entered Georgia, the mobile application market would develop further. Nowadays we have to register under another country’s name like Russia, Turkey or the United States and pretend that we live there to have access to different apps. Of course, this hampers market development,” he said.
“People try to be connected to different forms of information through their mobile phones. For the companies this is a chance to “sit in their customers’ pocket”. There is a boom of smartphones in Georgia and this is why the demand is increasing. When people have free time they always check their different applications. The companies are able to share their information with the customers in an easier way and be sure that they will get this information. People start moving from computers to mobile phones. This is a tendency that business should follow. In Georgia it is mostly the banking system which offers mobile applications and I think that applications are the most important precisely for the banking system,” he said.
“The business can offer such services that they could not offer through computers. For example, GPS services for finding ATM machines, or petrol station, or the nearest café. The benefits for the companies should be divided into three parts: 1. Increases the customers’ satisfaction. A satisfied customer spends more and the profit of the company increases accordingly; 2. Direct financial interest - for example Lemondo made the application Saba Reader for TBC Bank. People who are interested in reading Saba winner books pay for the download of this application. Also currently we are preparing a special application for the National Geographic magazine. Every month people will get a notification when the new edition has been issued. If people are interested in reading this magazine they will pay USD 2; 3. The company improves its internal processes,” Kiladze said.
Middle-level projects at Lemondo cost about USD 4,000. “The price depends on what the company needs. We have had project of USD 25,000 and of USD 3,000. We create games which cost USD 100,000,” Kiladze said.
Online banking has increased the number of customers and the statistics of mobile payments, bank representatives say. “Remarkably, TBC Bank has developed the best internet bank not only in the region, but in the entire world,” said Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, TBC Bank CEO. “During the Global Finance’s annual awards ceremony TBC Bank won two global sub-category awards in the Consumer Internet Banking category for Best Integrated Internet Bank Site and Best Bill Payment and Presentment. This encourages us to maintain our leading position as an innovator in the market. Of course it is reflected in our mobile application, which is becoming more and more popular with our customers,” he added.
The customers asked and Bank of Georgia created a mobile application for them, which has increased the number of the Bank’s customers, according to Sulkhan Gvalia, Bank of Georgia Deputy CEO. The application gives them the possibility to receive information about accounts, deposits, credit cards and loans; transfer money, pay utility and other bills, find the nearest ATM or service centre etc. Recently Bank of Georgia offered brand new internet banking for corporate clients entitled Business Online which is tailored to the needs of businesses. Customers can export documents, their account, deposit, and credit information, as well as a credit coverage timeline in both PDF and Excel formats.
“Business Online, with offers a convenient design, is tailored to business needs and is easy to use. This will allow our clients to perform banking operations in a much more user-friendly and comfortable way,” said Gvalia.
After creating Iota Reader, the first Georgian e-book, LTD Literacy, which is a subsidiary company of UGT, a provider of solutions in the field of information and communication technology, created a mobile application as well which increased the e-book market by 5 percent, according to Avto Suladze, the Director of LTD Literacy.
“Iota reader has been getting sold for 2 years already in Georgia and is quite popular equipment for reading books. It costs GEL 280. As for the application, it is also very popular and is free. The number of its customers is over 30,000. Reading books on mobile phones is very comfortable, people can search for the preferred page or chapter easier and can read their favourite stories wherever they are. Technological development has provided the possibility to read on mobile phones without eye pain and other uncomfortable circumstances. Out of 1,300 books the most popular is The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald and Samoseli Pirvely by Guram Dochanashvili,” he said.
For commercial purposes the National Geographic is issuing a mobile application. “The financial interests are the main reason for creating a mobile application, but there is another goal as well - to offer better access to our product for customers,” said Tata Kvachadze, National Geographic publisher. “There is a Georgian Diaspora abroad which cannot buy the magazine. So this application will be very useful for them. In general, sooner or later digital publishing will replace printing and we should start preparing for this,” she added.