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Citi to switch from fragmented app portfolio to unified platform

NEW YORK — A Citi executive at the Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit said that the bank is working to transfer its fragmented applications around the world to a unified global platform.

During the “How mobile and tablet banking is rapidly evolving customer relationships” session, the executive discussed the various mobile efforts Citi has already rolled out as well as the different areas it is looking to explore in the future. She also spoke about focusing on two different use cases for mobile: increasing sales and serving the customer.

“[The smartphone app] unlike tablet is not a single code base,” said Melissa Stevens, head of Internet and mobile at Citi Consumer Banking, New York.

“Now when we have to make a change, I have 26 code bases for 32 countries, and that doesn’t feel good,” she said. “But we’re in the process of building a global app. It’s going to be a great experience and quicker to iterate.”

Mobile Women to Watch 2014 Summit was a Mobile Marketer presentation.

App crazy
Citi currently has five different iPad apps for the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, Russia and Poland. There will also be apps in Columbia, Brazil and Argentina in the near future.

The tablet apps all run on a common code base, which means that Citi can move quickly and easily to roll out updates across the different countries.

With Citi’s smartphone app, however, this is not the case.

Citi has a smartphone app in 32 different markets, but these are all built on a unique code base. That means that when Citi needs to make a change in its app it has to go in and out of all 32 apps.

Part of the reason for this was that Citi was focused on getting apps out there quickly and making sure it was available in as many places as possible. The company only later realized how challenging this would be for maintain a continuous experience across platforms and countries.

Citi is currently in a transition period where it is rolling out one universal smartphone app. The company plans to roll out the universal app in the U.S. in the near future.

Future of mobile banking 
Citi already offers mobile check deposits and popmoney transfers, where consumers can transfer money to friends and family. However, the bank realizes that this is only the beginning, and it is constantly experimenting with new technology.

One area that Ms. Stevens touched on was geo-location and how Citi can use location to push offers that would convince consumers to spend on their Citi card. This would also tie into personalization and providing unique offers.

Citi is also looking into helping consumers easily open an account via mobile by snapping a picture of their photo ID.

Similarly, the bank is also looking into letting consumers pay bills by taking a picture of the bill, a feature that U.S. Bank already offers.

Ms. Stevens is also excited about the possibilities with verification using voice or fingerprints, citing iOS’s new fingerprinting technology as a possible future venture for Citi.

“We’re in an exploratory phase,” Ms. Stevens said. “Optimizing for the form factor and what are the features that can make banking easier for you on a tablet is where we are.

“Authentication is interesting,” she said. “We’re in the discovery phase. We have a lot of regulations that we follow, so you have to get comfortable before you get it all right.

“It’s about making it simpler for customers and making it transparent. It’s about exploring.”

Final Take
Melissa Stevens, head of Internet and mobile at Citi Consumer Banking, New York