World’s Best Bank in the Emerging Markets 2020: Akbank
Even during Turkey’s recent economic turbulence, Akbank has maintained its commitment to innovation and has been the standout private-sector lender in the country.
Turkey has had a volatile few years, even by emerging market standards. An attempted coup in 2016 was followed by a currency crisis two years later, which in turn pushed the economy into recession early last year.
The country had barely recovered from that when the Covid-19 crisis hit, sending the economy into a tailspin yet again and prompting a series of increasingly erratic protectionist measures by local policymakers. That Turkey has nevertheless managed to avoid outright economic disaster so far is in large part due to the strength and resilience of its banking sector.
Forged in the heat of the 2001 banking crisis, Turkey’s leading private-sector lenders have long been among the strongest in emerging markets and favourites of international investors. Throughout the turmoil of the past five years, they have managed to remain well capitalized and highly profitable.
Stiff competition has also proved a spur to innovation. Digitally, Turkey is one of the world’s most advanced banking markets. Turkish banks are streets ahead of most of their peers in western Europe when it comes to mobile banking and broader customer experience.