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Citi’s digital focus paying off in Asia

Digital versatility has been key for both corporates and banks in adapting to the enforced remote working conditions most businesses have found themselves facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, CTMfile recently covered the spike in digital onboarding that Citi has seen around the world. Now, Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) have drilled down into the regional numbers from Asia Pacific. This region has seen significant uptake in digital adoption in the first quarter of the year as the business supports clients’ contingency situations during the pandemic. 

Highlights from the quarter's findings include:

  • Close to 3.5 times increase in the number of banking accounts opened digitally.
  • Over 1,000 accounts opened digitally.
  • 19-fold increase in the bank's active mobile user base.
  • Doubling of Citi's API client base in the region.

“Citi continues to work very closely with our clients during these unusual times," said Sanjeev Jain, Asia Pacific head of Digital Channels and Data, Treasury and Trade Solutions at Citi. "As clients across multiple markets put in place contingency and business continuity plans, we have been able to support their operations through TTS’ digital solutions and capabilities. We have seen a significant acceleration in adoption of these solutions and we remain committed to bringing the best of these capabilities to our clients as we collectively navigate the ongoing situation."

Digital onboarding

First introduced in Asia Pacific in 2019, CitiDirect BE Digital Onboarding enables Citi’s clients to open additional or new banking accounts digitally and in as quickly as two days. Using electronic signatures and supported by a streamlined documentation process, the capability was introduced in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand in 2019.

Citi has helped clients open over 1,000 accounts digitally in the first three months of the year in Asia Pacific. The number of accounts opened using CitiDirect BE Digital Onboarding has increased by close to 3.5 times from January to March 2020.

Driving adoption and offering a relevant solution to its clients as the pandemic continued to evolve in the region, the solution went live in six additional markets early this year. These markets include India, China (only Shanghai branch), Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

The digitised process has helped Citi’s clients set up new accounts to address major situations during the pandemic, both in their home markets and overseas. As clients invoked their respective business continuity plans, the ability to rapidly open new accounts has provided multiple benefits; including helping them expand operations in new countries to enable their sales collections and facilitating vendor or employee payments.

“The CitiDirect BE Digital Onboarding platform has proven to be a fantastic tool for Reliance, enabling us to get the account opening process completed and accounts activated in a very short span of time,” commented Narendra Shenoy, treasury head at Reliance BP Mobility, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. “The entire walkthrough, as well as the day-to-day user experience of Citi’s innovative account opening system is very intuitive. Plus, the Citi team on the ground provided the highest level of service ensuring the task at hand was completed smoothly.”

Adoption of digital channels

While digital adoption has steadily increased over recent years with the consumerisation of corporate experiences, the adoption of digital solutions and channels has accelerated even faster as a result of the pandemic.

The bank has seen tremendous year-on-year growth in both CitiDirect BE (the bank's online/mobile banking platform for institutional clients) and CitiConnect (the bank's connectivity platform featuring solutions including APIs) between the first quarter of 2020 and the same period in 2019:

  • 19-fold increase in the active CitiDirect BE App (mobile) user base.
  • 24-fold increase in the active biometric authentication user base.
  • Doubled the API client base; quadrupled API volumes.

The CitiDirect BE platform provides access to global transaction capabilities, featuring new capabilities for desktop and mobile. These include simplified payments, biometric authentication, chat, and co-browse capabilities with a service representative.

CitiConnect API usage has also surged in volume over the past year, as many companies move towards seamless, real-time integration. In Asia Pacific, e-commerce clients whose businesses are currently seeing rapid growth in volumes are driving adoption of APIs and increase in activity. The ongoing digitisation efforts of companies across different industries, especially non-bank financial institutions, is also driving this trend in the region.

“With Citi APIs, we are providing a differentiated user experience to our merchants," said Kedarnath Rentala, head, Banking Products & Solutions at fintech Razorpay. "The bank’s suite of APIs are innovative and provide an additional layer of security for our high-value transactions. The entire integration of the solution was flawless and it has helped us to process payments faster as well as onboard merchants more quickly while leading to increased revenues.”

"Using Citi APIs, we are able to make timely and automated payments to our partners which include restaurants as well as riders," commented Pradyot Ghate, vice president, Product & Partnerships at Zomato. "Given the nature of our business, this is of the utmost significance. Through our partnership with Citi, we have streamlined our payment processes, resulting in substantial savings in time and effort. Citi APIs are now a key component of our tech stack.”

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