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Citibank Planning Fewer Branches And More Online Services For Asia

Citibank Planning Fewer Branches And More Online Services For Asia
Branches in the fastest growing markets is being shut down by Citibank but that measure would only help the American banking group to do better than ever.
In the first three months of 2018, the bank registered its seventh straight quarter of growth in the Asian market which is its largest market apart from North America for its consumer business. The growth has been driven by Citi's cards business which is largely because of its strategy taken by it three years ago to "digitize" its operations.
The strategy included more expenditure for advertising on digital media, striking partnerships with e-commerce companies and various social media platforms, and constructing systems that allows people to make online applications for Citi’s cards, said Sergio Zanatti, Citibank’s head of cards and personal loans for Asia.
"In the past, customers need to come to the bank, what we’re trying to do is flip that completely: We want to be accessible to you as a customer in the place and in the way you prefer to interact. We want to be present in the place or ecosystem that you play and live," Zanatti said in an interview last week.
He added that this strategy did away with the wait for customer arriving at the physical branches and the reliance on large sale teams to encourage people to sign up for credit cards. In its place, the bank is able to target the right customer more efficiently with the help of increased use of data analytics and digital channels. That was customers are also remain with the company for longer periods, he explained.
Among the unique measures undertaken by the bank is the launch of banking services on social media applications like Line, WeChat and Facebook Messenger in some Asian markets. this strategy allows customers to users to get account information like account balances, credit card transactions and paying for certain bills om occasions.
Changes to its consumer banking operations have also been brought in by other banks apart from Citi. For example, complete mobile based banking services was launched by Singapore's DBS in India and Indonesia which has helped the bank to build inroads into the two countries without the need for creating physical branches.
There are still a large number of banks in the region that still mandate a user having to fill out physical forms for credit cards and stand in queues at branches to get a bank account opened. This despite the rising trend of consumers in Asia preferring online mediums for such tasks.
Asia is the place where many of the digital strategies taken up by Citi elsewhere began were first launched. Asia is the largest market for the lender outside of North America.
Top of Form
A 11 percent year-on-year growth in revenues at $1.93 billion was noted by Citi in Asia while it also noted a 50 per cent increase in net income at $373 million over the same period form the same region.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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