Citi Connects with Asia Fintech Community to Upgrade Banking

Asia Banking FinTech Startups

Seeking to drive digital and mobile transformation in banking, Citi launched Citi Mobile Challenge Asia-Pacific. The Challenge is a call to Honk Kong and other Asia-Pacific fintech startups and developers to come up with innovative solutions that could improve banking operations, running globally on Citi’s digital platform.

Citi Mobile Challenge Asia-Pacific

Citi Mobile Challenge Asia-Pacific is a next-generation accelerator that combines a global network of fintech experts with Citi’s advanced clients and sponsors network, aiming to ensure that those promising startups will get the opportunity to capitalize on the program’s grouping of competition with a business incubator scheme.

Citi’s initiative to join the Asia fintech fast-developing community is expected to help develop innovative approaches to banking, says Citi Hong Kong and Macau CEO, Weber Lo. On the same page, Jorge Ruiz, Citi’s Head of digital acceleration global program, believes that Citi’s drive to join forces with Asia startups can lead to the integration of advanced digital solutions into Citi’s digital business global network.

Registration for the upcoming Challenge will be on from August 19 to September 2. The new accelerator program is part of a global initiative, originally launched in the United States, and Latin America in 2014.

The selection process

Developers will be facing the challenge of creating innovative apps, compatible with Citi’s digital services platform, to provide innovative digital and mobile banking solutions. Demo events will be hosted in Hong Kong and other Asian markets (Singapore, Sydney and Bangalore) where participating groups will be assessed by a fintech experts’ panel. The finalists will be selected based on the prototype solutions and will be awarded with US$100,000 in cash awards and services, offered by several sponsors.

The statistics

Asia fintech community is growing really fast. Citi estimates that nearly 20 million digital banking transactions are performed in the Asia-Pacific region on a monthly basis. The newly-launched app is expected to double the number by 2020. Also, only 5 percent of banking transactions are performed via brick-and-mortar branches. Citi aims to reach up to 10 million active digital users in Asia by 2017.

Citi, not the frontrunner

Before Citi, two other key players made their moves in the Asia fintech industry. In 2014, leading consulting firm Accenture established its FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong, seeking to connect local startups with the potential to develop new fintech services in the region with leading financial institutions. Accenture estimates that Asia financial technology investment reached US$767 million in 2014, an increase of 213 percent (US$245 million in 2013).

Singaporean bank DBS is another major firm that joined the Hong Kong fintech community in May. DBS established a startup accelerator in partnership with Nest, a local innovation incubator, inviting global fintech applicants to join the program.

Currently, the focal point of banks and financial institutions is capturing the lead of the next wave of financial disruption which will be followed by even a bigger wave of M&A.  Citi’s initiative will help fintech to evolve at a much faster pace in Asia due to its global presence.