technology

Xbox Becomes Bank for Game-Obsessed Turks Checking Funds

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Video-game obsessed Turks will no longer have to desert their Xbox to run their finances as the country’s largest private lender starts delivering banking through the Microsoft Corp. console.

Turkiye Is Bankasi is providing retail banking through an application downloadable onto the Xbox One, the Istanbul-based bank said in a statement on its website, claiming a world first. Customers breaking away from gaming can use sounds and hand movements to perform transactions, Isbank said.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan banned Twitter and YouTube last year and has declared himself “increasingly against against the Internet every day,” banks in the country are competing to meet the needs of a growing number of tech-savvy customers.

Turks conducted about 17.4 billion liras ($7.4 billion) of transactions on their mobile phones in the three months ended September 2014, according to the Turkey banks association, as non-traditional distribution channels boom in the country. Akbank TAS, the country’s second-largest listed bank, said in a presentation this month that the number of customers using its mobile banking services increased to 1.2 million in 2014 from 247,000 two years earlier.

Denizbank AS, owned by Russia’s Sberbank, said it was the first lender to consider credit applications through Twitter messages when it started the service in 2013. ING Groep NV’s local unit delivers customer service through a robot. Now Isbank is bringing banking to the gaming console.

“While typically considered state-like and boring by foreign investors, Isbank continues to be quite innovative on the technology front,” Cagdas Dogan, a banking analyst at BGC Partners in Istanbul, said by e-mail on Wednesday. “I think the Xbox move is a good effort to turn the youth into customers for Isbank, which currently has the strongest foothold among the elderly.”

(Adds figures on mobile banking use in fourth paragraph.)
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