Citi’s digital growth benefiting institutional clients

May 09, 2021 | 23:01
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Citi Vietnam was recently named Digital Bank of the Year by The Asset magazine. Interim Vietnam Citi country officer Lai Minh Thuy shared with VIR’s Phu Canh her views on the digital focus of the bank in recent years and the recent announcement on exiting from the consumer bank business in Vietnam.

What is the current competitive situation of the digital banking arena in Vietnam?

citis digital growth benefiting institutional clients
Interim Vietnam Citi country officer Lai Minh Thuy

There were 68 million internet users in Vietnam in 2020 and this number is forecasted to grow to 75.7 million by 2023. More than 90 per cent of Vietnamese internet users are connected online primarily through their mobile phones, and services that were previously limited to a few people are now almost universally accessible.

Digital payments are rapidly gaining popularity. According to the annual report from the State Bank of Vietnam just before the pandemic hit, 96 per cent of banks in Vietnam are building strategy based on 4.0 technology and 92 per cent of them are developing their services on internet and mobile. As per our assessment, most of Vietnam’s local banks have implemented digital core banking systems to accommodate internet banking payment services and digital payments.

Despite the highly competitive digital banking landscape, Citi Vietnam has performed very well with customers who are highly engaged digitally. With all of Citi’s new digital capabilities that are now available in Vietnam, 100 per cent of customers have opted for e-statements, and more than 80 per cent are enrolled in the online banking experience. Such resiliency and acceleration of digital banking has led to Citi Vietnam being named Digital Bank of the Year.

What are the main digital strategies at Citibank?

The foundations for our rapid rise in digital usage were laid in 2017 where we geared towards a “mobile first” strategy. In 2020, we have headed toward a “mobile adoption” strategy that puts all the access and capabilities consumers need into their hands. The strategies are paying off with strong gains in client engagement, preference, and satisfaction.

During COVID-19, Citi Vietnam launched a series of digital measures to offer further assistance to retail and institutional customers. The bank’s priority is on supporting clients through this challenging period, especially via digital means.

In corporate banking, our award-winning electronic platform CitiDirect BE, coupled with our host-to-host capabilities via CitiConnect, help to ensure that our institutional clients can continue to perform their core banking activities in a controlled, digital way during the challenging environment of the pandemic. From 2019, Citi’s institutional clients in Vietnam could also use fingerprint or facial recognition to access our institutional banking platform on mobile.

The bank has also recently launched CitiDirect Digital Onboarding in Vietnam, providing corporate clients with a digital channel for account opening and product implementation. Clients can digitally sign documents or alternatively download, complete, scan, and upload documents, eliminating paper submission to branches.

In Vietnam, the number of unique mobile users has increased by 25 per cent on-year and the Citi consumer credit card business has earned highly prestigious scores. Why, therefore, is Citi Vietnam pursuing an exit from consumer banking?

It is not an exit plan in Vietnam. As part of its ongoing strategy refresh, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser announced Citi will focus its global consumer bank presence in Asia and the Europe/Middle East/Africa market on global wealth centres and as a result, will pursue an exit from consumer franchises in 13 markets across two regions, including Vietnam.

However, Citi has been in Vietnam for several decades and the global announcement about strategic actions in consumer banking across 13 of our markets does not in any way dilute our long-term commitment to Vietnam or the Asia-Pacific region. With this strategic re-positioning, we will be able to further invest our resources in significantly growing our institutional business in Vietnam.

The bank is committed to Vietnam and is growing further in the country. There is tremendous opportunity with this strategy refresh by Citi for us to offer a uniquely differentiated value proposition to our clients as we move into a new phase of growth and transformation focusing on our institutional franchise.

What change to your operations will there be in Vietnam as a result of this strategy refresh?

Citi Vietnam assures customers that consumer business operations and offices will continue to operate as normal with the same dedication and passion to serve and support clients.

We would like to convey to all credit card and bank account holders, as well as our customers in loans, that all our existing products and services will continue normally and there will be no change in our high level of service. All branches, ATMs, call centres, and offices continue to operate as they do today.

Customers can continue to conduct transactions or service inquiries through the Citibank Mobile App, Citibank Online, and Citiphone. This will remain the case until we notify customers of any changes in the future. Our global mission is to ‘Be the Best’ for our clients and this is the cornerstone of our development roadmap for both corporate and individual clients.

By Phu Canh

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