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Citibank launches Citi Mobile in China

Mobile Marketer’s Chris Harnick interviewed Natalie Jo, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience at Mobile Money Ventures. Here is what she had to say:

What’s the strategy behind the partnership with Citi?
Mobile Money Ventures was formed in March 2008 as a joint venture of Citi and SK Telecom.

By combining the strengths of Citi, today’s preeminent financial services company, and SK Telecom, the leader and pioneer in mobile financial services technology, Mobile Money ventures has created a next-generation mobile financial service solution that will accelerate the adoption of mobile financial services worldwide.

Through this relationship, Mobile Money Ventures is partnering with Citi as its global mobile expert to develop and deploy mobile solutions around the world.

We’ve already deployed in five countries globally, with more to come shortly.

What challenges does this partnership address for both companies involved?
Partnering with Citi offers Mobile Money Ventures the opportunity to leverage Citi’s global footprint and deploy its robust mobile platform across their lines of business.

We’re on the ground in these countries developing a stronger understanding of what consumers want in their mobile banking solutions.

This allows Mobile Money Ventures to continually improve its offering, deploying a targeted, first-class solution for each country we enter.

Can I get a break down of the new services?
Citi Mobile is the first offering of its kind in China from a foreign financial institution. 

Customers can view their account summary, transfer money and browse the latest product information using their phone’s mobile browser. 

In addition, the offering is tailored for both English and Mandarin-speaking users.

Is there a growing demand for mobile banking? If so, why?
Mobile banking is growing rapidly around the world.

A recent Javelin report estimated that in the U.S. alone there will be 36 million active mobile banking users by the end of 2009.

That number is projected to grow to 99 million active users by the end of 2014.

There are several trends that are helping to increase demand, including the growing prevalence of smart phones and more affordable mobile data usage plans.

 However, we think the most important factor is that financial institutions are starting to offer compelling, easy to use mobile banking sites that give customers more control over their money.

You’ve seen recently that banks are starting to use mobile banking as a customer acquisition and retention tool. Citibank actively promotes the offering through its various channels.

In addition, consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on their mobile devices to manage all aspects of their lives. This is a great opportunity for financial institutions capitalize on this trend.

Where is mobile banking and payments going in the future?
Mobile Money Ventures sees the mobile banking and payments ecosystems converging in the future. Our financial institution customers are looking for ways to provide their customers with mobile services that add value.

The first phase of mobile banking deployments has primarily focused on deploying online banking features to customers. Most deployments offer access to account history, transaction details, the ability to transfer money between accounts, bill pay, and ATM/branch locations.

The next phase of mobile banking will exploit the unique capabilities of the mobile phone to deliver value to customers. As technology evolves, so will the mobile banking solutions that we deploy. For example, as more phones incorporate GPS capabilities we will begin to see offerings that utilize location based services to benefit of consumers.

Mobile payments is really in its early stages in the United States. Our strategic investor SK Telecom has been offering mobile payments for years in South Korea. We have an exciting roadmap that focuses on delivering the next generation of that technology to our customers. We don’t think it will be that long before people will be using their phones as mobile wallets.