In the first half of 2019, we experienced effects of negative foreign and geopolitical developments on inflation, interest and currency rates. But the outcomes of economy management`s precautions have started to be observed from the third quarter on. It can be seen that the rebalancing period of the economy and by extension the markets has ended successfully.
In 2019, our Bank`s cash loans increased by 18% and reached TL 448 billion. We keep on presenting our customers with new products which are designed with the aim of increasing TL loans and savings in our economy. With that perspective, our TL loans increased by 27% and 30% of the sector`s loan growth has been achieved by Ziraat Bank.
Believing that extending our loans selectively to certain sectors and specializations is very important in terms of creating more value, we have focused on our strategy of providing financing in a way that will support agriculture, employment, production and current account balance.
In that regards, along with our regulat agricultural loans, we have designed and presented our customers with agricultural loan products that aim to develop more efficient greenhouses, increase local farming of heavily imported produce and decrease input costs of animal breeding. In order to be more efficient in “from farm to plate” value chains and come up with effective solutions to structural problems of the agricultural sector,we actively collaborate with related institutions, organizations and private sectoractors
We keep developing our loan policies which focus on supporting local production through special auto loans for domestic vehicles, financing packages for supporting domestic machinery and equipment and financing solutions for small and medium enterprises which are important factors of production but tend to have problems in terms of access to finance.
In 2019, we have also considerably relieved an important financing constriction with our BİRLEŞTİREN İHTİYAÇ KREDİSİ specifically designed for our retail customers who are going through financial difficulties due to credit card debt. We have pioneered housing loan rate decreases and extended a considerable amount of housing loans. We have also supported the construction sector which highly contributes to employment as well as other sectors. When Ziraat Bank is excluded, it can be observed that overall housing loans have decreased in 2019. We are also pleased to see that the current housing loan rates in the sector have reached the levels we have initially designated.
We have presented our customers with floating rate loan products linked to CPI, government debt securities and TLREF, for which our customers showed significant interest. Similarly, in line with our objective of supporting TL savings, we have started offering CPI linked deposit products for our customers and reached a considerable magnitude in floating rate deposits.
While continuing our investments in the most widespread branch network on a domestic level, we especially increase our investments in digital banking. The number of our mobile banking customers has reached 9 million while our active internet banking customers reached 2 million.
We continue offering our services in 18 countries through our bank and international branch network. Aside from that, we have a correspondent banking network of 1.750 financial institutions from more than 140 countries. Ziraat Bank standing with and supporting its customers throughout the world. We access a considerable amount of financing through our international network and support local investments with it. We have rolled our 1.4 billion USD syndicated loan facility with the participation of 40 banks from 22 countries. We have reached a wholesale funding base of USD 12 billion through post financing, bilateral loans, syndicated loans, international financial institutions and repo transactions.
As the leading bank of the banking sector in many aspects, Ziraat Bank is one of the most important assets of our country. Our Bank maintains its main strategy of creating ever more added value for itself and our economy. Ziraat Bank will keep on effectively supporting banking sector`s and our economy`s sustainable development in the coming years.
Our Bank which sets a fine example in terms of corporate governance, reporting and transparency for the sector and the business world, takes an important step for reporting practices this year and publishes its first Integrated Annual Report.
I would like to thank our employees whose dedicated contributions have been invaluable towards achieving our successes and our customers for their trust.
CEO and the Member of the Board