The future is open


Stephen Bird: “The new economy is about frictionless transactions, curated experiences, seamless service and higher value. And the bar rises every day.” (Illustration: Maison Moderne)

We are living through what is perhaps the most profound period of disruption in human history. Digitisation is by far the most powerful, disruptive force transforming the way we live, work, engage, consume and communicate. We are in a new reality, an epochal shift.

Never before has a technology been adopted at the speed of the smartphone. The world at large has done its systems conversion. It has chosen smart devices, fast networks, brilliant apps and cloud computing as the new solution stack. According to the World Economic Forum, 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have disappeared as a result of digital disruption since 2000. No industry is immune from its impact – music, media, retail, transportation, travel and, of course, banking.

“A phenomenal opportunity”

The FinTech explosion is a global phenomenon with challengers coming in all shapes and sizes from every corner of the world. As an industry, our comparatives are rapidly changing. Best-in-class service leaders are using new technologies to enable phenomenal speed and simplicity and redefine customer expectations. The new economy is about frictionless transactions, curated experiences, seamless service and higher value. And the bar rises every day.  

While considered by many to be a threat, I believe FinTech is a phenomenal opportunity for consumers and the financial services industry alike. New technologies enable us to deliver a simpler, better, more personal client experience, realise operational efficiencies and support the growth of an effective, stable and competitive global financial system. 

In the new world that is upon us, only the most adaptable will survive. Today, our clients – more than 100 million worldwide – are engaging on digital platforms and in social ecosystems every minute of every day. Becoming their “always on” life partner depends on the quality of the experience we provide and our open engagement with the broader FinTech ecosystem. At Citi, we have been at the forefront of open banking for several years, moving towards an open architecture which facilitates collaboration and partnerships that benefit customers across the globe.

An API-enabled ecosystem

The future of banking is evolving into an API-enabled ecosystem with deeper integration into consumers’ lives – areas like commerce, communication and transportation – empowering them to bank anytime and anywhere they choose. In 2016, we launched a global API developer hub, one of the most comprehensive in the global financial services industry, to connect with developers and enable new streams of value for clients, partners and developers faster than ever before. Since its launch, we have expanded functionality to incorporate 16 countries with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) across eight categories. More than 400 app prototypes have been built using our APIs and more than 4,400 developers have registered. 

Not only are we deploying new capabilities on our own digital and mobile channels at the speed of Silicon Valley, we are putting our APIs to work across the franchise and around the world to benefit our customers, embedding our services in the most popular social and e-commerce platforms in the world, like Amazon as well as WeChat and Alipay in China, where more than 75% of Citi China clients engage with us on these platforms. We’re also exploiting the competitive advantage our global network gives us. On the ground in regions that are leapfrogging traditional technologies, we are face to face with our customers, co-creating new solutions with them and understanding their needs to shape the digital bank of the future.

As banking moves beyond the bank, we must recognise the world has changed and forge a new path forward, one that embraces the imperative to deliver simpler, human, more immediate experiences, helps customers navigate this new paradigm and embraces the power of “open.”