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Industry roundup: 14 April

Citi’s digital channels process 1 billion API calls from corporates 

CitiConnect API, Citi's application programming interface (API) connectivity platform, has reached a milestone of processing more than one billion API calls since its launch in late 2017. This rapid rise in API volume is fuelled by the many changes corporates are facing due to the rapidly evolving business environment, including supporting direct-to-consumer flows, new e-commerce models, the switch from batch to real-time, and the advance of instant payments. 

Whether it is to top up mobile wallets in India, disburse micro loans in Argentina, or pay instantly in the US, Citi says its digital channel solutions play a role in helping clients of the bank's Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) arm reach their goals and navigate a transforming industry. Citi has collaborated with providers of enterprise resource platforms (ERP), treasury workstation systems and fintechs to embed API capabilities in an effort to build a seamless integration experience.

"Our ultimate goal is to deliver an exceptional client experience that is fully digitised and highly automated," said Shahmir Khaliq, global head of Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions. "As a part of our ongoing digitisation efforts, we continue to elevate our user experience by providing clients with improvements driven by data insights and feedback, as well as expanding our intelligent and seamless connectivity solutions."

The rapid adoption of APIs is driven primarily by companies in the fintech, telecom, multimedia and technology industries. The APIs for treasury services, accessed through CitiConnect, allow clients to integrate with Citi to access a growing number of solutions directly from their treasury workstations or ERP of choice. To help solve important needs for visibility and transparency, some popular API calls include account balance inquiries, payment status reports, requesting FX rates and booking FX contracts. During the pandemic, CitiConnect API volume steadily increased 60% from the prior year in 2020, as measured by message volume and transactional value.


Mastercard partners with ConsenSys on the future of multi-blockchain commerce

Mastercard and ConsenSys, a software engineering firm in the blockchain space, have announced a partnership to explore the future of commerce. As part of Mastercard’s multi-blockchain strategy, it will work with ConsenSys on a variety of initiatives. 

Mastercard’s blockchain patents and payment network combined with ConsenSys’ blockchain development expertise will deliver a tech stack based on ConsenSys Quorum, an open-source protocol for enterprises built on Ethereum. Enterprise Ethereum has seen continued adoption among financial institutions and businesses, making it one of the most widely used permissioned blockchains. While Mastercard does not currently have plans to support Ether, the native crypto asset of the public Ethereum blockchain, on its network, this investment is part of Mastercard’s range of initiatives and investments in the space.

"The accelerated shift of financial services to blockchain is continuing to reshape how businesses, governments and people transact around the world in real time," said Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of Digital Asset and Blockchain Products & Partnerships at Mastercard. "Our investment in ConsenSys will enable us to fast-track our blockchain innovation and support a growing number of customers that are actively developing applications on Enterprise Ethereum and leveraging open-source technologies and communities."


Did working from home actually make markets more efficient?

Half of financial market professionals participating in a study from Greenwich Associates think the challenges of working from home in 2020 actually made markets more efficient by accelerating the uptake of digital communication and collaboration tools.

Almost 80% of the financial market professionals participating believe that technology innovations over the past five years have made markets better and more efficient. Nearly 70% of study participants working for buy-side firms and 40% of sell-siders believe work-from-home accelerated that trend last year.

"Looking to the post-pandemic period, even bigger shares of market participants expect technology and automation to deliver more transparency, higher quality executions and lower prices for clients over the next three to five years," says Kevin McPartland, head of Research in Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology group and co-author of The Future of Capital Markets Collaboration.

While virtually every industry was forced to adopt video conferencing and other new digital tools to facilitate work-from-home last year, the financial services industry faced some unique challenges.

For example, the expanding use of digital communications channels represents a significant challenge to compliance departments. While most major regulators issued blanket forgiveness for communications monitoring lapses, recent releases reflect a tougher stance, and internal teams and third-party technology providers have been scrambling to expand communications channel monitoring and surveillance alert capabilities.

"The need for robust surveillance and compliance capabilities and integration with other core technology platforms is guiding some financial services firms to gravitate toward technology solutions designed specifically for the financial market, as opposed to some of the more popular communication apps," says Danielle Tierney, senior advisor for Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology and co-author of the report.

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