An Interview with Sopnendu Mohanty


FST Media: What are your priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Mohanty: Over the next 12 to 18 months, I am looking at further digitising Citi’s banking channels and services to cater to the lifestyles of our customers today while driving greater efficiency and optimisation for Citi.

With increasing globalisation and urbanisation, Citi is increasingly focused on the top 150 cities of the world. Our clients in these cities demand services that are accessible, simple, convenient and quick. Digitisation is key to making this possible and to ensure we are relevant in a fast-changing industry.

Related to digitisation, I am also working on strengthening customer authentication processes, ensuring that our clients remain protected from threats of fraud. With increased security and safety, we will also be able to facilitate doing more on our remote banking channel platforms. 

FST Media: Which emerging trend or innovation is currently flying under the radar that you feel is destined to make a significant impact on the financial services industry?

Mohanty: While that remains the million-dollar question, a breakthrough that enables completely secure access to all banking services using remote channels is destined to make a significant impact.

FST Media: How has Citibank Express, Citi’s next generation ATM, delivered value to the business and how do you see the role of the physical bank branch developing in the future?

Mohanty: Citibank Express is a glimpse into the future. It has established for us a start from which we are working to reconfigure our physical distribution channel for greatest efficiency.

With the ability to offer virtually all services catered for in a physical bank branch, Citibank Express plays a central role in developing an integrated multi-channel distribution network for Citi.

With the rising use of digital and remote banking channels, the value proposition of a traditional bank branch is changing. For Citi in Asia, over 90 per cent of transactions already occur outside of a bank branch.

As such, we are progressively converting our traditional branches into Smart Banking branches, providing best-in-class tools and services to engage our clients and as a base for more consultative client services.  

Leveraging on technology, Smart Banking reinforces Citi’s commitment to client-centricity as these branches provide convenience, relevance, speed, and simplicity, offering an experience that is aligned to clients’ demands and expectations.

FST Media: What role will mobile NFC technology have at Citi in the future?

Mohanty: Mobile NFC technology can have significant applications in banking as it provides a platform for seamless integration with mobile devices that have been enabled with banking applications. For instance, NFC is one of the technologies that enable the functioning of a digital wallet service.

Still, the long-term usage and extent of use of NFC technology in banking is dependent on several factors including adoption by device manufacturers, security aspects and the ability of software developers to really leverage NFC as a platform for the development of future banking applications.

FST Media: How do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

Mohanty: Innovation is not proprietary to an individual, team or department. Innovation is applicable to all employees. As an organisation, Citi recognises and cultivates the need to think innovatively.

To focus on and further develop on our innovative capabilities, we have set up Citi’s Global Consumer Innovation Lab in Singapore.

The Lab provides innovation training to all colleagues and new hires at various levels. Outside of the Lab and at the enterprise level, Citi drives a number of programs to encourage, recognise and reward innovation within the organisation. This Lab is a showcase of our innovation programs, developments and solutions to senior management and various business groups.

FST Media: With respect to career development, what is the best advice you ever received?

Mohanty: As someone who has been in the industry for a while now, I have received many pieces of good advice during various stages of my career. The one that remains consistent and always stands out to me is simple – be yourself, don’t waste time trying to be someone else.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Mohanty: I think my legacy will be in the area of smart banking. I hope to be remembered as someone who contributed towards building the most iconic and advanced ATM machine. I also hope to be remembered for my work in building a physical distribution channel that is highly digital and subsequently, efficient.