By Edd K. Usman
As the digital age continues to disrupt various industries, financial giant Citi has launched new digital programs and partnerships aimed at taking advantage of technology to better serve its customers.
With the new digital programs, David Stoughton, director of Citi for credit payment products, said customers will be able to get their credit approval online once they complete the simplified application form and submit digitized copies of the documents.
The executive noted that Citibank, the banking arm of Citi, was among the first to go online. “We were one of the first banks to launch an online presence and also one of the pioneers in attracting customers through our website,” he pointed out.
The Citi executive recalled that the bank then was only capturing customer information upon their application online while the processing and credit review were done offline. “With this latest service, we are excited to break new ground for the industry and deliver another innovation for the Filipino consumer,” said Stoughton.
One of the benefits of the online program is that because of the digitized application and approval process, a client will learn in minutes whether the Citi credit card application is approved or not. “This is a game-changer as we continue to look at our products and services, and accelerate digitization to deliver remarkable client experiences,” Stoughton said.
Along with the digitization of the application and approval process, Citi also digitized its rewards. Clients who prefer applying in promotion booths in shopping centers or travel exhibits because of attractive turn-in gifts do not have to worry as the online processing still carries the rewards.
Starting on Feb. 22 until April 30, those who will complete their application will receive an electronic voucher they can redeem for Auntie Anne’s pretzel and iced tea. A Fitbit Charge 2 fitness wristband will also go to clients who will get their first Citibank credit card, with the caveat that an approved application must be accompanied by a qualifying purchase.
The financial firm also struck a partnership with Amazon, in which clients can use their rewards points to buy goods at Amazon.com. The collaboration includes rebates and free shipping for Citi card holders in a number of consumer markets across Asia Pacific, including the Philippines.
Local customers will also be able to enjoy the privilege in the first half of 2017 of using the global credit card rewards program, along with Singapore and Australia as the bank targets to roll out the “Shop with Points” program across Asia during 2017.
Anand Selva, Citi’s head of Asia Pacific consumer banking, cited the bank’s objective in going digital.
“At Citi, we are focused on making banking easier for our customers by leveraging digitization, mobile technology and innovation which includes delivering a remarkable client experience in key digital ecosystems. We have seen that the rapid adoption of mobile and other digital channels has truly transformed how people shop and we are delighted that Citi cardholders in Asia Pacific can now show with points on Amazon,” he said.
As the bank continues to leverage digital technology, it already had entered into several partnerships in Asia, among them, with AliPay and WeChat in China and Line in Thailand and Taiwan; a digital credit card partnership with Airbnb and Uber.
Citi’s regional digital partners in the Philippines, include online restaurant partner Booky, on-demand spa app Zennya, online shopping mall Lazada, and ride-hailing app Grab.
In the course of the year, Citi launched the newly refreshed Citi Mobile App in Asia with its easy-to-use functionality and interfaces such as Snapshot and Touch ID. It was also the first to launch Voice Biometrics across the region with over 700,000 sign-ups.
Stoughton also underlined the vital role of security for its online offerings. “Security is really the most important thing,” he said, adding they will not roll out digital functions until “we ensure that it is fully secured.”
“And we will do everything from what we call ethical hacking where we actually attempted to fine the vulnerabilities, find the ways that a malicious actor could potentially get access and we ensured that all of that is thoroughly tested,” he assured.
Further, he said Citi is also subject to strict regulations both in the Philippines and in the United States that govern the kinds of platforms the bank can offer and the security around them.
“It is extremely important to us and I think our customers can be very confident that we will offer no service that we do not believe that it is 100-percent secure,” Stoughton said.