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Citi sets sights on international markets to cement mobile banking focus

Citi has rolled out the iPad app to Russia and Hong Kong as part of a bigger marketing strategy to expand its global footprint this year. Mobile has played a key role for Citi over the past few years to help clients manage their accounts from their handsets.

“For us, this international rollout underscores the importance of being at once global and local everywhere for our customers,” said Andres Wolberg-Stok, global mobile and tablet banking director of consumer banking business at Citi, New York.

“Because this app is global, we were able to put a level of design and sophistication into it that would be difficult to match by any single market operating on their own,” he said.

“That’s very much to our users’ benefit, everywhere, and it is a central part of our mission to be the world’s leading digital bank.”

Bank on mobile
In addition to Hong Kong and Russia, Citi also plans to launch the app in other key markets this year. The markets are in Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Once the app is live in a market, clients with bank and credit card accounts can access their finances by logging in with their information.

According to Mr. Wolberg-Stok, each of the 40 countries where Citi offers consumer banking services has different local rules and regulations, meaning that the app might need to be tweaked from country to country.

For example, the comments field for setting up a bill payment in Russia requires more than other countries.

Additionally, currencies need to be taken into account with international mobile apps, and visuals are adapted to resonate in specific countries.

Consumers with the app can manage their finances with graphs and charts.

For instance, users can plan and track their cash flow via a chart and view how their spending breaks down with a pie chart that shows a consumer’s top payees. The app also lets clients track and view images of deposited checks.

Furthermore, clients can set up payments and transfers from their savings and checking accounts via the app.

The app is integrated with Facebook and Twitter to allow consumers to share content and follow the @AskCiti Twitter handle for real-time help.

Mobile banking continues to grow in importance for both financial institutions and consumers.

By expanding the app to international markets, Citi is proving that mobile plays a critical role in how the bank connects with consumers.

Mobile past
The iPad app was initially launched in 2011 in the United States and claims to be the first financial institution to leverage graphs and visuals in an app.

Additionally, the app has been awarded by companies including Javelin Strategy and Research and Forrester Research.

For example, Javelin ranked Citi as one of the top financial institutions in 2012 because of its emphasis on laid-back tablet features (see story).

Forrester Research also singled out Citi last year in a report on mobile banking. One of the biggest findings from the report was that 77 percent of Citi iPad users spend time on three or more screens (see story).

“Hong Kong and Russia were the two inaugural markets after the U.S. because they are among our top priority countries globally from a business perspective, and because we wanted to ensure we rolled out to more than one region from day one,” Mr. Wolberg-Stok said.

“We have a long list of other countries targeted for rollout over the coming months in multiple regions, and we hope this world-class app will delight our customers in each and every one of them,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York