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Citibank seeks mobile banking innovation with app developer challenge

Citibank is partnering with Yellow Pepper, a Latin American banking and mobile payment provider, to host the Citi Mobile Challenge U.S. 2014, a virtual challenge for developers seeking to transform the banking landscape.

The Citi Mobile Challenge is seeking to accelerate digital banking innovation through connecting creative designers and developers, and offering them the opportunity to create new mobile applications for the bank’s digital banking platforms. The mobile challenge has already been introduced to Latin America, but 2014 will mark the inaugural U.S. branch of the event.

“I think it’s an amazing initiative that has been done by Citi, and we should see more initiatives by similar players,” said Serge Elkiner, CEO and co-founder of Yellow Pepper, Miami, FL. “It would really cement the innovation and the push for people to continue innovating.”

Accelerating innovation
The event will be held on Nov. 10 in Silicon Valley, Nov. 12 in New York and Nov. 14 in Miami. The challenge calls for participants to be given access to certain Citi APIs, which they will then use to create various mobile applications or solutions designed to affect banking technology.

More companies are offering up-and-coming developers the chance to prove their skills with events such as hackathons and mobile challenges. With Citi’s challenge taking place in multiple cities, Citi and Yellow Pepper hope that participating will be easier for young entrepreneurs who may have the skills to develop the next big platform.

The mobile challenge has already been introduced to Latin America, but 2014 will mark the inaugural U.S. branch of the event. The event will be judged by a slew of top executives, including Mr. Elkiner and individuals from a variety of Citi divisions, including Digital Banking, Operations and Technology.

“Citi did a similar challenge and we participated as a developer,” Mr. Elkiner said. “We are launching major projects with them this year, especially in Mexico and Colombia. Partnering with them is a chance to see what’s out there for new innovation.”

Enticing prizes
Citi is offering a total of $100,000 in prizes, with $50,000 being awarded to the most Innovative Mobile Solution and $50,000 given to the best Internet of Things/Wearable idea. The finalists that are selected will also be invited to conduct a commercial relationship with the bank and may even be able to implement their concepts into Citi’s partner accelerator programs.

With global platforms such as Apple Pay and PayPal taking the mobile payment spotlight, Citi hopes that its event may locate the next big platform and give an unknown start-up business or developer the recognition needed to promote their concepts.

Ultimately, Citi recognizes that innovation may come from smaller companies, and that innovation could lead to greater revenue. Working with other developers could lead to a breakthrough concept that will revolutionize the digital banking sector.

“I think that financial technology in general is changing and evolving as a whole,” Mr. Elkiner said. “It’s a whole new experience, from banking to shopping. I think that we’re in for a change over the next few years.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York