Citigroup banks on digital technology for growth

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 06, 2015

Kartik Kaushik, Country Business Manager, Consumer Banking, Citibank India

Plans to rope in start-ups, technology providers for new banking solutions

Citigroup, the 203-year-old bank, is seeking the help of Indian entrepreneurs to drive its next wave of growth, in the age of e-payments and mobile wallets.

Citi Mobile Challenge is an accelerator programme aimed at inspiring start-ups and mid-size companies to re-imagine the way banking has been thought about.

Tech partners

It plans to bring in technology partners such as Google, Amazon, IBM who along with start-ups will shape the way forward for financial technology and digital banking solutions.

“If you look at it, banks have always worked in silos and have not paid sufficient attention to embedding tech in the way they interact with the consumer. With this programme, we aim to open our doors to technology providers and start-ups who can build solutions on top of our platform,” Kartik Kaushik, Country Business Manager, Consumer Banking, Citibank India, told BusinessLine.

As a part of what the company calls a ‘movement’ to reenergise everything from payment solutions to financial inclusion, Citi opened its Application Programming Interface (API) to developers, similar to what a Twitter or LinkedIn does to attract third party software developers.

This initiative attracted 1,300 participants across more than 100 cities and 20 teams were shortlisted, company executives said.

Range of ideas

The ideas ranged from alternatives to PoS terminals, which work at 1/5th of the cost of normal terminals, biometric-enabled cash dispensing ATMs to start-ups providing unsecured credit or lending.

While these ideas have been there in parts, what makes it different this time? “This is about bringing different stakeholders together — not just through lip service but offering them advice on tackling various challenges in terms of business models or usage of technology,” said Nilikanth Iyer, who leads the cloud ecosystem for IBM in South Asia.

Start-ups were excited about the prospects of being a part of this.

“To have the backing of a large bank, along with other technology companies will help us in fine-tuning as well as taking it to market,” said Prerit Srivastava, co-founder, Qarth Technologies, one of the participants.

The movement that Kaushik alludes to also refers to aligning the company’s approach to banking with the government’s ‘Digital India’ and ‘Start-up India' initiatives.

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Published on November 06, 2015
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