In the first quarter of 2021, we continued to experience the implications of the pandemic that impacted our lives in 2020. This year, however, we are more confident, that with the rollout of vaccination across the globe, a crucial step in the process has been taken in combatting COVID-19.
As the vaccine rollout accelerates, the international institutions' expectations regarding the economy have also evolved in a positive direction. In its World Economic Outlook report published in early April, the IMF forecasted rapid recovery and high growth in 2021 for both the world and Turkish economy, expressing cautious optimism, while stressing the new virus mutations. The IMF raised its global growth forecast from 5.5% to 6% and maintained its growth forecast for Turkey at 6%. On the other hand, the IMF reiterated that the high uncertainty around the global economic outlook stems from the trajectory of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and remarked that the continuation of supportive economic policies is key to the prevention of permanent damages to the economies.
Turkey mounts a major fight against COVID-19 to protect human health. We reinforce, as all institutions, this fight. At QNB Finansbank, we continue to support the real sector, show our maximum efforts to protect our bankers and customers, and take the necessary measures. The year 2020 has shown us that human health and compassionate governance are key areas of focus in the world and in Turkey.
We will enter a new period after the pandemic. Price stability and trust in the markets will primarily be critical in this period, in which we will face a new economic and social model defined by further digitalization and re-proliferation of e-commerce and rollout of digital life with new working schemes. At QNB Finansbank, we have positioned ourselves among the leading banks in this period with our long-standing investment in digitalization.
As the world continues to fight against COVID-19, we are facing another important issue: global warming. And we must now work even harder to create a sustainable world. To this end, at QNB Finansbank, we fulfill our responsibilities, drawing on our strength as a large organization. In the week of March 8, we signed the Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP), a joint initiative by UN Global Compact and UN Women, and confirmed our commitment to the 7 principles for building our company policies to further promote gender equality.
With the projects under our CSR platform Small Hands Big Dreams, we will continue to prepare our children for the future. We will commit to making the future more livable by embracing the principle of "sustainability for a more livable world".
We have continued to post sustainable growth during the fight against COVID-19 in Q1 2021, as well. We have concluded the first quarter successfully through our robust balance sheet management, as well as our innovative activities in retail and SME banking.
As of 31 March 2021, the total assets of our Bank increased by 10%, compared to the end of 2020, reaching TL 249 billion 727 million, while net loans grew by 6 percent to TL 147 billion 58 million and customer deposits rose by 15 percent to TL 144 billion 861 million. Our bank's net profit in the first quarter of 2021 realized at TL 697 million.
The first quarter of 2021 witnessed some hope, but also some distress for all of us. I would like to once again thank all my colleagues for contributing to this growth with their support and dedication, despite an atmosphere of uncertainty; their families for supporting them throughout the pandemic, and our customers and stakeholders for their contributions.
Ömer A. Aras