'"Fintegration": How Citi Views Disruption as Opportunity,' John Hogue, Head of Global Consumer Innovation Labs, Citi Fintech
It is hardly a surprise to anyone today to hear that the pace of technology is accelerating, and that it is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Technology is transforming in every part of our lives – how we communicate, live, work, and play.
Powered by technology, we have seen the likes of Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb, amongst others, offer customers completely new, seamless and differentiated experiences. As a result, customer expectations are now shaped by the differentiated experiences they have in the course of their daily lives.
Within the financial services sphere, the development, and more importantly, the application of various technologies has led to a FinTech explosion.
According to a report released by KPMG in March this year, global FinTech funding hit an all-time high in 2015, totaling some US$19.1 billion.
In Asia, funding given to FinTech companies backed by venture capitalists quadrupled in the same year to hit US$4.5 billion. Another report, from consulting firm Accenture, stated that in the first three months of 2016, FinTech investments in Asia Pacific increased by 517% compared to the same period last year. The region is now the second biggest for FinTech investment worldwide after North America.
At Citi, innovation is deeply embedded in our culture. As we work to transform customer experiences, we continue to build the right mindset and culture to compete in the evolving financial services landscape. We believe that disruptions serve as opportunities for the future. As such, we look to bring together the strengths of our global bank and those of FinTechs to develop, realize and scale revolutionary and beneficial solutions for our customers. While FinTechs bring superior agility, cost efficiency, and innovative mindsets that are very much sought after, we come equipped with a large customer base, established brand and presence, scale, as well as the infrastructure required to build the client solutions. The strengths of Citi and FinTechs are complementary to each other, so our approach is to become extraordinarily adept at integrating the best FinTech innovations. We call this “Fintegration”.
Through Fintegration, we also participate in, support and contribute to the development of the FinTech ecosystem so that we can propel the growth of the financial industry going forward. Across the region, this is an ecosystem that is rapidly growing, with players across both the private and public sectors encouraging and promoting the adoption of technology in finance and other areas. In Singapore, for example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is the first central bank worldwide to launch a FinTech Innovation Group with the sole purpose of developing the FinTech ecosystem. MAS has also committed over S$200 million to this development. This commitment is congruent with Citi’s own view of FinTech, and our aspirations grow together to develop the future of FinTech in Singapore. Supporting this collaborative approach, we are focused on building out platforms and sharing our architecture in an open way as we look outwards for the best in solutions to benefit our customers. At the same time, we remain conscious of the need and importance to innovate and we continue to do so. For example, we launched Citi FinTech in November of 2015, with the mandate to build the bank of tomorrow, a mobile-centric business model that delivers a radically simple, connected customer experience across the full range of client services future. Citi FinTech is redefining how we organize, operate and deliver client services by adopting start-up like characteristics, while still leveraging the benefits of being associated with a prestigious 200-year old organization.
By creating and leveraging an open architecture as well as further building on our own in-house capabilities, we believe that we will be well-placed to deliver the best features and functionalities to offer our customers a differentiated, elevated, and much more personalized banking experience. Customers appreciate and want solutions that are holistic, simple, convenient, and at the same time, secure and technology is a key enabler to make these solutions possible.
Therefore, as technology and customer preferences continue to evolve, it is important for Citi, as well as the banking industry at large, to adopt and adapt in order to deliver a radically simple and connected experience to customers that can and will make all the difference in determining the relevance of many businesses in the future.