The German bank N26 is planning to offer bank accounts in Turkey according to Business Insider Germany. And there are rumors that Revolut may enter Turkey soon as well. So I decided to take a look at the Turkish neobank market to see what competitors these neobanks will face there. It turns out that several of the major Turkish banks have established digital banks recently that will compete with these services. Here are a few of them.
The digital bank Tosla is a subsidiary of AkOde, one of the subsidiaries of the Turkish bank Akbank. This digital bank was launched in 2019. Like other digital banks, Tosla uses bright, colorful branding and its products are designed for younger customers. Tosla is separate from Akbank so users don’t need an Akbank account to open accounts at the digital bank.
As for features, the Tosla app has a built-in social network with its own feed. It also provides free peer-to-peer money transfers, and the app is available 24/7. The Tosla prepaid debit card supports contactless payments as well. Many of these features are available at other banks, of course, but not every neobank offers its own social network so Tosla has an edge there. And, of course, Tosla can easily expand its service offerings and sell other financial products through partnerships with its parent bank Akbank.
The Tosla app has a score of 3.3 on the Apple app store, which isn’t great. It has a 4.2 score on the Google Play store though.
Papara is an independent Turkish neobank. It was founded in 2016 and currently has 200 employees. This fintech also has a web page that’s available in English. Reviews indicate that the Papara app isn’t available in English, though, and some users are unhappy about that.
Papara has 10 million users, which is a large userbase for a neobank. In 2020, N26 announced that it had 5 million users and that was a major milestone for the company. So Papara’s actually much larger than most of the neobanks in the US, Britain, Europe, and Canada that show up in the news. It is smaller than Chime, which has about 13 million customers, but it’s larger than the other US neobanks. So foreign neobanks might be facing tougher competition in Turkey than they expect.
Papara has high app store reviews. It has a score of 4.8 on the Apple store and 4.7 on the Google Play store.
Ininal markets itself as a prepaid card provider or a gift card provider. In practice, though, that’s the same business model that neobanks use. Some customers might be more familiar with prepaid cards or gift cards than they are with neobanks. But in general, Ininal sells prepaid gift cards that can be reloaded through its apps, and it has an Apple store app as well as a Google Play store app.
Customers do have to pay 5 Turkish lira to purchase a gift card, or 10 Turkish lira if they want one that supports contactless payments. And there’s also a recurring fee of 2 Turkish lira per month for these cards. There’s also a fee of 2 Turkish lira for using the card at certain stores. So Ininal does charge fees, unlike some other neobanks.
Ininal has a 4.4 rating on the Apple store and a 3.8 rating on the Google Play store. Many customers don’t like paying the 2 Turkish lira fee on their transactions, and that drawback comes up a lot in reviews.
PeP is another Turkish neobank with brightly colored debit cards. It was founded in 2017. Its website’s currently promoting a 5 percent cashback deal on Carrefour purchases, which is a decent deal for a debit card. PeP customers also get fuel discounts at OPET gas stations and there are more than 1,300 of these stations in Turkey.
Additionally, there are no fees on international cash withdrawals, which makes the PeP card better than many banks’ debit cards. And PeP offers its customers currency exchange services at the mid-market rate as well. So this card offers several perks that benefit international travelers. Several other neobanks have pared back similar perks because they were expensive to offer, though.
PeP has a 3.8 score on the Google Play store. Some negative reviews came from users who were unhappy that PeP didn’t allow them to open bank accounts from countries outside of Turkey, though.
Turkish Neobanks Will Provide Tough Competition
There are several Turkish neobanks that offer features similar to the ones that European neobanks already offer. These features include contactless payments, in-app social networks, and no-fee international purchases. Additionally, these Turkish neobanks have already signed up lots of customers. Papara is one of the largest neobanks in the world.
So it might be more effective for a European or US bank to acquire one of these fintechs rather than attempting to launch a new one in Turkey. If they do decide to enter the market directly, they’ll need to show customers why they’re better than the existing neobanks. The Turkish neobanks already offer many of the features that distinguish digital banks from traditional banks.