Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - Page 13 News List

Citibank launches innovation challenge in Taiwan

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Citibank Taiwan chairman Victor Kuan, third left, and consumer banking business manager Yunny Lee, second right, and others announce the Taiwan Citi Mobile Challenge at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lee Ching-hui, Taipei Times

Citibank yesterday launched the Citi Mobile Challenge in Taiwan, an initiative aimed at cultivating new talent and accelerating innovation as the banking industry migrates toward digitization.

“In the next decade, about 40 percent of banking business will be conducted through digital channels,” Citibank global head of retail banking and mortgages Jonathan Larsen told a press conference in Taipei.

In the past year, nine such events have been held worldwide, during which a few gems have caught the attention of Citibank’s venture capital, mobile app development and mentoring arms.

One such innovation was an app designed to address the lack of access to banking services in certain parts of Africa.

Citi said a contestant last year saw that taxi drivers in Africa often carry large quantities of cash, leading the contestant to think there might be potential for the drivers to perform mobile bank teller services. They developed an app that linked to users’ bank accounts to enable them to receive cash from taxi drivers, the bank said.

Square, which offers a full suite of point-of-sale and payment-processing solutions for vendors, and Betterment, an automated investment advisory and broker-dealer service, are other examples of innovations that have gained traction under the programs of Citi’s venture capital unit.

Yesterday’s event was billed as a next-generation accelerator that combines a virtual hackathon and a startup incubator to stimulate new ideas for financial technology, Citibank said.

Using application programmable interface (API) and data provided by Citibank and other major financial institutions, software developers from Taiwan will compete with rivals from numerous Asia-Pacific countries for US$100,000 in prize money, the bank said.

Contestants’ innovations will be showcased at a Demo Day event to take place in Bangalore, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, and judges will announce the winning team in December, the bank said.

“We are hoping to bring more services to Taiwan, such as those based around Apple Pay, but it depends on the company’s launch schedule,” said Larsen, adding that he is optimistic on the Financial Supervisory Commission’s support for “Bank 3.0.”

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