Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Risk management helps Citigroup stand tall amid digitalization

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Citigroup's global consumer banking CEO Stephen Bird poses at a news conference in Taipei yesterday after briefing the media about the group's development plans.

Financial technology poses both challenge and opportunity to conventional banks but Citigroup Inc will remain relevant because it knows better about risk management and is adapting to customer behavior changes, top executives said in Taipei yesterday.

The major US banking group  recognizes growing competition from non-conventional players but is confident about business and customer increase, guided by the digital-heavy, branch-light business approach, Citi global consumer banking CEO Stephen Bird said.

Bird, who is visiting Taipei on business , said Citibank is to launch new digital capabilities in Taiwan in the second half of the year as the local market ranks top-three in terms of revenue contribution in Asia and top-five globally.

Citibank has a long history of bringing new things to Taiwan and will continue to do so in the future, said Bird, who headed the Asia-Pacific region before being promoted to his current position.

New mobile capabilities

“New mobile capabilities are coming in Asia in the fourth quarter and we are excited about it,” Bird told reporters at its headquarters office in Taipei.

The bank aims to invest more in technology, digitalization, data and analytics because they are strategically important, said Bird, whose company is the world’s largest credit card issuer.

Consumer banking saw a healthy topline increase in the first quarter with business pickup in the US, Asia and Mexico as the industry embraces digitalization, he said.

The group has set up a fintech team under direct supervision of Bird to monitor consumer behavior changes and identify new business opportunity to catalyze growth so Citibank can remain innovative and agile, he said.

Bird said he is aware that technology firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) and even telecom operators may grow into formidable rivals given their mammoth customer base, but Citibank knows better about risk management.

Citibank has no intention of establishing Internet-only banks as it has already been offering online services and products and will continue to innovate and upgrade, he said.

Millions of Citi customers, for instance, have registered with its voice biometrics program and more than 50 percent of customers in Taiwan are using the technology, which helps streamline the authentication process and makes transactions more secure, Bird said.

Citibank would partner with players from other sectors to enhance transaction speed and convenience, he said, citing partnership with local e-commerce operator PChome Online Inc (網路家庭).

Asia has posted seven consecutive quarter of business growth under the stewardship of regional chief Anand Selvakesari, Bird said.

“We’re seeing healthy growth in card business and in digital lending. ….We are also seeing strong growth in wealth management business and are gaining customers digitally,” he said.

The light-branch model means digital platforms will be the primary channel by which Citi services and engages operates, while physical branches will continue to evolve to reflect how customers bank today and in the future, Citibank said.

The local branch will roll out new promotion campaigns in the second half of the year to demonstrate the evolution.

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