The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the need for significant changes, both at work and in our daily lives, over the last two years. In this context, new practices involving remote access have dominated many areas of life from shopping to the way we work. The pandemic has raised the necessity and importance of digitalization, especially in the field of financial services.
Another area which has been greatly affected by pandemic has been the global economic outlook. While global economic activity came to a standstill when the pandemic struck, efforts were taken to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic through the implementation of supportive policies. However, the contraction and imbalances which started to be seen on the supply side during the pandemic have continued. Price hikes and inflationary trends on a supply side which has not been able to adequately respond to global demand have made themselves felt in the world economy.
Our country continues its uninterrupted growth
Our country's economy was one of the few countries to have post positive growth in 2020, and Turkey's economy grew vigorously by 11% in 2021. Turkey was able to reap the rewards of its advantageous geographical position, dynamic and productive population and strong production networks in a manner to support growth even during the pandemic period, a time marked by high uncertainty.
The resilience which our economy has displayed will increasingly support the adaptation to developments in the global and regional supply chains and also pave the way for important steps to be taken as country moves to become a regional production hub in the coming period.
A sector using its clout to support the economy
The banking sector maintained its robust growth trend in 2021 and continued to actively support the Turkish economy. This period was marked by continued developments in digital banking. Legislation to allow banks to accept customers remotely accelerated the redefinition of our sector's business processes to be as contactless and mobile, in line with digital banking principles.
Ziraat bank continues to put its stamp on new achievements
As the building block of the Turkish banking sector, our Bank continued to focus on financing the real sector in 2021.
Our bank increased its cash loan volume to TL 778 billion in 2021, with an increase of 30% in loans compared to the previous year. Its total loan volume, including non-cash loans, stood at over TL 1 trillion.
Over the same period, Ziraat Bank's deposits grew by more than 50% to approach TL 1 trillion with deposits comprising a 69% share of liabilities.
Our total assets rose to TL 1.4 trillion with our equity standing at TL 97 billion.
In 2021, our Bank reaffirmed its position as the sector leader with its commanding market share, with our share in the sector's total cash loans approaching 15% and our share in deposits exceeding 17%. We commanded a 14% share of the sector's equity with a share of approximately 15% in total assets.
Guided by our strategic priorities.
Our strategic priorities have enabled us to successfully manage the difficult conditions of 2021. They guided us in using our resources in productive areas with strong potential.
Our selective credit policy and sustainable growth criteria, which is concerned with the effective use of resources, enable us to improve credit quality with effective credit processes. We deem investments in manufacturing, exports, energy and technology to be of key importance for the medium and long-term future of our country. Our selective credit policy and sustainable growth criteria also allow us to support these investments with an optimal resource cost.
Our strategy towards the business model of future is leading us to offer an increasing number of solutions and consultancy services to our customers through digital channels. Our priority of "technology in life" draws the roadmap of our progress with advanced technological infrastructures. Our Bank's technology infrastructure is constantly being improved with flexible software development processes, the global data centre and high information security practices.
As we move towards the future, another issue which we prioritize is the continuous development of our organization and the satisfaction of our employees. Ziraat Bank is a large and extensive family. We continuously invest in the professional development of each of our members in order to enhance the employee experience and support organizational efficiency.
The wide presence of the Ziraat Finance Group and its competence in creating integrated financial solutions allow us to offer a strength in service delivery that is unrivaled. We expanded our international service network by opening three new branches in 2021. We offered Ziraat Real Estate Investment Trust, Turkey's real estate giant, to the public in an IPO. Our internet and mobile banking investments in our branches abroad continue without interruption. Another priority for us is platform banking. We continue to work on new products and services to be offered within the scope of open banking and service banking regulations.
We integrate the principles of environmental and social risk governance into our business model. In line with our Sustainability Policy, we maintain our efforts to develop collaborations in order to create added value with the banking principle that respects people and the environment.
A loan strategy focused on agriculture and production
In 2021, Ziraat Bank continued to pursue an effective approach in providing financing to all sectors which produce and take part in the commercial cycle. Ziraat Bank implements a credit strategy focused on contributing to manufacturing, employment, exports and the current account balance, especially agriculture. It acts in a manner which will offer the greatest contribution to the economy with the loan packages which it has designed.
Sectors engaged in production remain our top priority and we continue to provide the highest level of support to the manufacturing business line, following the agricultural sector.
Agricultural production remains our priority
We believe in the importance of agriculture for our country and support the development of the sector under a unique approach. On the one hand, we maintain our financing support for the agricultural sector, while on the other, we continue to work intensively to diversify agricultural loan products.
We remain faithful to our primary goals of the contracted production model, controlled greenhouse agriculture, bringing agricultural enterprises to a position where they can use economies of scale, the utilisation of idle operating capacity, raising the level of agricultural mechanization and increasing the use of technology. Another of our primary goals is to financially support agricultural investment projects which will create added value in agricultural production and which meet our country's needs.
Other topics we support include investments and activities to expand the storage, processing, packaging and marketing capacities of agricultural enterprises for their own products, with a special focus on licensed warehousing and cold storage investments.
As of the end of 2021, the balance of agricultural loans extended from our bank's resources had reached TL 109 billion, with the number of loan customers had reached 725,000. In the same period, we welcomed approximately 84,000 new agricultural producers to our Bank as customers.
Investment loans comprise 36% of our agricultural loan portfolio with working capital loans accounting for 64% of the total.
As of the end of 2021, the balance of the loans disbursed within the scope of the contracted agricultural production model, which is one of our key priorities, had reached to TL 554 million
The "I Have Many Reasons to Live in My Village" project got underway in the last quarter of 2020 and continued in 2021. This project was implemented in order to enlarge the scale of the small cattle breeding businesses, to bring idle business capacity into production, to achieve development with domestic sheep breeds and to diversify the range of financial solutions offered to small businesses. Within the scope of the "I Have Many Reasons to Live in My Village" Project, our bank provided TL 694 million in financial support to 5,447 producers in 2021.
Moreover, our Economic Irrigation Loan product was introduced in 2021 in order to expand the use of modern pressurized irrigation systems in agricultural irrigation and to ensure more efficient use of water resources.
Ziraat Bank will continue to support agriculture, which is the cornerstone of its mission, with added value packages and to offer our producers products and services with a strong value proposition. In addition to this wide range of financial support for agriculture, we continue to work in cooperation with all relevant institutions, organizations and universities on increasing the added value of agriculture and solving the structural problems of the agricultural sector.
Strong support in difficult times
Ziraat Bank continued to stand by the sectors and employees affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021. We implemented financing packages for SMEs which have a significant share in our country's production and employment, and have which experienced difficulty in accessing appropriate financing. Ziraat Bank signed a protocol with the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, the Credit Guarantee Fund, the SGK (Social Security Institution of Turkey) and İŞKUR (the Turkish Employment Agency). The purpose of this protocol is to meet the financing needs of the SMEs and non-SME businesses which commit to provide and maintain additional employment, at affordable conditions, and to provide interest support. Within this protocol, our Bank introduced the Additional Employment Loan Package. As of the end of 2021, the bank had disbursed TL 4.4 billion in loans within this context.
Ziraat Bank signed a protocol with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF) in order to provide special working capital financing at affordable conditions and with guarantee support to its SME customers. With the Breath Loan Package product, which was prepared in accordance with the aforementioned protocol, the bank disbursed TL 621 million in loans.
Within the framework of the cooperation with KOSGEB (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organisation of Turkey), we continued to support our SMEs with interest supported loans. The Tourism Support Package, Tourism Fire Support Package and Micro Enterprise Support Packages were offered to ensure that our SMEs operating in the tourism sector and, in particular, micro-scale SMEs were protected from the effects of the pandemic by facilitating their access to finance. In this context, the bank disbursed TL 685 million in loans.
In addition, the Manufacturing Based Import Substitution Support Package, established under the leadership of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, was put into practice. The package is aimed at financing investments undertaken by SMEs which will reduce our country's dependence on imports by investing in strategic sectors at favourable maturities and affordable costs.
Moreover, the bank provided support to all stakeholders to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of business life with appropriate POS pricing and the Supply Chain Financing product applications offered at favourable conditions by developing the Commercial Card and Member Business product set.
In addition, we provided prompt support at favourable conditions for all of our citizens who suffered problems in the recent period, a time marked by many disasters such as earthquakes, floods and fires.
We continue to provide resources from international markets to our economy
Deposits remained our main source of funding in the financing of our assets, with loans continuing to make up the majority of assets in 2021. With the support of its long-standing international relations and high prestige in foreign markets, our Bank continued to provide resources in different formats such as foreign currency repo, bilateral agreements, thematic loan agreements with international financial institutions, Eurobond issuances, post financing loans and syndications.
Ziraat Bank issued a sustainable USD 600 million Eurobond with a maturity of 5 years from international markets in line with environmental and social sustainability criteria. This transaction was the first
sustainable Eurobond issued from Turkey by a financial institution, 100% of whose shares was held by the public sector.
Ziraat Bank succeeded in renewing its ninth syndicated loan of USD 1.3 billion with a maturity of 367 days, realised with the participation of 45 banks from 23 countries in April 2021 with a roll-over ratio of more than 100%. This loan, obtained from international markets for the purpose of financing foreign trade is an indicator of the international confidence placed in our Bank.
Another important example of cooperation realised in 2021 was the USD 400 million loan agreement signed with the Exim Bank of China. This cost-effective loan, provided in two tranches of USD 320 million and 500 million Chinese Yuan, contributed to the development of trade in local currency.
With the international resources which our bank has provided, our bank supported the real sector throughout the year with foreign trade transactions which are an important driver of sustainable economic growth.
A future in digitalization
As we unwaveringly maintained our investments in digitalization in 2021, we continued to develop and diversify the services we offer to our customers in all aspects. Our main goal is to ensure our customers benefit from the convenience and speed offered by technology to the maximum extent possible. Our other focus is to prepare the Ziraat brand for the new normal by redesigning our business processes as required by the technological transformation.
We have a service perspective which adopts the approach of continuously improving the customer experience by developing products and services with high added value. Delivering innovative products to an increasing number of customers and making use of robotic technologies and artificial intelligence at our bank stand out as the driving forces of our digitalization journey.
We recorded an increase of 75% in the number of financial transactions carried out through our mobile application in 2021 when compared to the previous year. The number of digital banking customers increased to approximately 28 million with the number of active digital banking users reaching 17 million. In the same period, our customers performed 94% of their financial transactions through digital channels. The number of Ziraat Bank credit cards in circulation amounted to 10.3 million. We commanded a 12.3% share of the credit card market and a 10% market share in terms of monthly turnover, while we had 42.6 million debit cards in circulation. Our leadership position in the sector was reinforced with a 22.5% market share in monthly shopping turnover.
With its extensive digital service network, our bank was serving 895,000 member businesses at the end of 2021. Our total number of physical terminals increased to 660,000.
As a stakeholder, we are redoubling our efforts in the solution of climate crisis.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) published its Sixth Assessment Report in 2021. The consequences of rising global temperatures were highlighted in the scenario of an increasing number of extraordinary meteorological events, especially heatwaves, in the world which would bring widespread problems to the ecosystem, in particular drought, with important and destructive effects.
The short, medium and long-term physical and transition risks arising from the climate crisis are expected to continue unabated. Meanwhile, the correct and careful management of risks by both the authorities and the real sector is gaining importance with each passing day. In 2021, many actions were taken to step up support to tackle the climate crisis both on a global scale and in our country, with new legislation coming into force.
The most important of these is the European Green Deal, which could potentially impact our country. Through the European Green Deal, the EU aims to implement the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. This mechanism is a key agenda item for Turkey and our manufacturing industry, where more than 40% of its exports go to the EU.
Ziraat Bank prioritizes the climate crisis in all aspects and implements the necessary regulations in its activities step by step in close cooperation with its stakeholders, in line with environmental and social sustainability criteria.
Investing in people is our priority
The members of Ziraat Bank are our most important asset. We owe our well-deserved reputation and market position, which we have built in Turkey and in the global markets over the past 158 years, to our employees, who have demonstrated such wholehearted commitment to our Bank for generations and who have built the present with such devotion.
While focusing on the future, we will continue to develop our human resources and equip them with the most up-to-date competencies.
The need to balance the risks and opportunities which the future offers
We carefully monitor the effects of global developments on our sector and the disruptive changes affecting the markets with the right steps that we have taken within the scope of our strategic roadmap. Meanwhile, we maintain our intense efforts to protect and develop our capital elements.
I would like to thank our customers, who have accompanied us on our journey, and our Board of Directors for their unwavering support. I would like to thank our employees, who have proudly represented the Ziraat brand in our domestic and international units, and who contributed most to our success with their work.
Member of the Board and CEO