Money & Banking

Citibank’s consumer banking, credit cards may be attractive for Indian lenders

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on April 16, 2021

It brought the concept of credit cards and ATMs in 1980s.

Citibank India’s consumer banking operations could be an attractive proposition for many domestic private sector banks, many of which are keen to shore up their retail book, especially credit cards.

With over 26.45 lakh credit cards as of February end 2021, Citibank India commands over six per cent of the country’s credit card market. In its annual results for 2019-20, the bank had said, “average spends per card is 1.4 times higher than the industry average”.


The lender also has 16.56 lakh outstanding debit cards as of February end 2021.

Citi brought the concept of credit cards and ATMs into the country in the 1980s.

Brokerage firm Jefferies said Citi’s exit from the retail business in India may open opportunities for Indian private banks, credit-card players and foreign banks in the country.

While private sector lender HDFC Bank, which is the top credit card issuer in the country with 1.51 crore outstanding cards as on February 28, 2021, has been directed by the Reserve Bank of India to temporarily halt the sourcing of new credit card customers, others like SBI Cards, Yes Bank and RBL Bank have been working to ramp up issuances.

“It will be interesting to see who acquires Citi’s business in India. In terms of credit cards, it could be a smaller or mid sized private bank or if the whole consumer banking business is divested, it could even be taken by a foreign bank keen on expanding its India operations,” noted a former banker who did not wish to be named on the issue.

As on March 31, 2020, Citi had 29 lakh retail customers and has nearly three dozen branches.

As part of an ongoing strategic review, Citigroup announced it would exit from consumer banking across 13 markets, including Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Published on April 16, 2021

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