Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) yesterday said that credit card clients could continue using their cards as operations would continue normally until it sells its consumer banking business.
As of February, the bank had 2.86 million credit cards in circulation in Taiwan, of which 2.17 million had been used in the past six months, ranking it sixth among all banks, data from the Financial Supervisory Commission showed.
Credit card spending by Citibank clients totaled NT$15.66 billion (US$552.6 million) in February, also ranking sixth among banks in Taiwan. Citibank was the only foreign bank that made it into the top six.
Photo: Lee Chin-hui, Taipei Times
Customers should not be concerned about using their Citi cards, as the bank would be operating normally until it finds a buyer for its consumer banking business, with no timeline set at the moment, the bank said.
Those who have taken personal loans, mortgages or other types of loans from Citibank should continue paying their debt, it said.
The announcement on Thursday by Citigroup Inc, the bank’s parent company, that it would exit the retail banking business in 13 markets — including Taiwan — has raised concern among Taiwanese consumers, with many wondering whether their rights would be protected.
Some Citi credit card holders told the Taipei Times that they were not clear if there is a deadline for redeeming their cash rewards or how long other types of rewards, such as a 40 percent discount on movie tickets, would last.
The Financial Supervisory Commission, which on Thursday confirmed that Citibank Taiwan is seeking a buyer for its consumer banking business, yesterday said it would ask the buyer to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected.
Citibank Taiwan held a videoconference yesterday morning to try to reassure its employees, saying that its decision would not affect them “immediately.”
However, some staff members, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Taipei Times that they felt confused and unprepared.
The bank had just in December last year revamped its three credit cards by offering better rewards and improved its digital banking app to attract new customers, they said.
That did not suggest that it would be closing its consumer banking business in less than five months, they said.
Citibank Taiwan actually planned to expand its local investment and recruit more talent at the beginning of this year, people familiar with the matter said.
Meanwhile, DBS Bank Taiwan (星展銀行) yesterday said that it would not comment on market speculation that it would acquire Citibank Taiwan’s consumer banking operation.
Citibank Taiwan reported a pretax profit of US$338 million for last year, ranking first among all foreign banks in the nation, company data showed.
Its return on assets and return on equity stood at 1.14 percent and 9.18 percent respectively last year, higher than the market averages, the data showed.
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