This week is a deep-dive into Citi’s fintech efforts. After losing the banking innovation headline war over the last few years, the big banks have been stepping up their game. Here is how one mega-bank is fighting back…

Fortune recently published a feature with a great inside look into Citi FinTech, the team inside of Citi’s consumer banking business that is in charge of making sure Citi stays competitive with smaller fintech companies. It is well worth the full read, but highlights are below.


A Healthy Fear of Failure

Consumer banking head Stephen Bird doesn’t mince words when describing how important it is that Citi gets its digital/technology strategy right.

“I describe it as the extinction phase,” he says. “What happens in an extinction phase is that you either rapidly adapt and new means of competition are created, or you go extinct.” Citi, then, is in a Darwinian fight for its life.

Clearly, Citi has gotten the message loud and clear. After losing ground while startups made significant progress over the last few years, Citi and others seem to be surging back, fueled by large installed customer bases, data, experienced teams, and billions to invest.

Heather Cox, CEO of Citi FinTech, has proposed the term fintegration to describe her vision of an open architecture Citi banking app that integrates the same functions as the best fintech apps. Coincidentally, this aligns with my view that the winners in the future of financial services will be the companies who can create the best platform for aggregating the best solutions.




Cross-Department Collaboration
… or lack thereof. The Citi FinTech group is just for consumer banking, and will use a mix of in-house development and partnering. Other divisions inside of Citi have their own plans. Citi Ventures invests in fintech companies (including Square, BlueVine, Betterment, DocuSign, and Pindrop Security), but the individual business units are responsible for striking partnership deals outside of the investment.
I have talked about how Alexa is being rolled out to more financial applications, including Capital One’s already-launched offering allowing you to check your balance and pay your credit card bill. Citi is testing Alexa as well, with plans to be the first major bank to integrate Alexa, though Wells Fargo is testing it as well.
Ok, couldn’t stick to only Citi stuff: Anil Dash wrote fascinating piece on the pros and cons of Alexa: best part…
Have a great Fourth of July weekend!

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