C2B Digital Change: Q&A With Citi’s Tapodyuti Bose

Tapodyuti Bose, global head of Channels and Enterprise Services for Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions, talks about how consumers are driving changes in corporate banking, and how Citi collaborates with both fintechs and clients.

Global Finance: How would you describe Citi’s approach to digital banking?

Tapodyuti Bose: Our institutional strategy centers on three main themes. One is engagement, or investing in capabilities that allow us to deepen existing client relationships and attract new clients. We’re investing heavily to serve clients a complete set of products and services delivered seamlessly through any channel.

The next theme is simplification. We’re using technology to improve the client experience and make it intuitive, while continuing to lower our costs and reduce the time to market for new products and solutions. For instance, many countries, including the United States, are moving to instant payments. By giving our customers access to this evolving infrastructure in the shortest possible time, they can leverage these new capabilities more quickly.

The third theme is innovation. As part of this, we engage with fintech organizations. For instance, we partnered with a fintech working in behavioral biometrics, or how human beings interact with machines. We co-created an ability to create a digital footprint of how a person interacts with their computer system—say, whether they’re left- or right-handed and they use the mouse. If there’s a disturbance in the pattern, we quickly recognize it.

We also do a lot of co-creation with our clients. We worked with a large insurance company that has a business line helping corporates self-insure their subsidiaries. They had been managing it on spreadsheets and emails. We worked with them as they moved to a blockchain platform to embed our transaction APIs [application program interfaces] to streamline the process.

With everything that goes on in the digital space, whether it’s new technology, changes in market infrastructure or new fintech players, it can get crowded and confusing. It’s important that we stay laser-focused on our clients, shareholders and strategy.

GF: Where are you in your digital transformation?

Bose: Five years ago, a corporate looking for a financial solution undertook a largely analog and manual process. They’d have to talk to a lot of different people to get information and quotes. We’ve created a digital database of solutions that’s accessible to our clients.

The onboarding process had been largely manual up until about a year or so ago. By the end of 2019, 70% of our onboarding volume will be digitized. In terms of transactions, we’re about 99.8% digital. And after transacting, if you want information, you don’t need to call anyone. Everything’s available digitally. You can log into CitiDirect and make an inquiry such as, “Did the payment go through?”

GF: How is the growth of mobile impacting corporate digital banking?

Bose: The lines between corporate and consumer applications have become virtually nonexistent. Corporate applications have to keep pace with consumer apps, or there’s a huge disconnect from the user’s perspective. We recently relaunched a completely new mobile offering to give our clients a greater immersive experience and to leverage the innovation happening in the devices themselves, like facial recognition.

GF: What are the primary challenges and opportunities in the digital space?

Bose: These are two sides of the same coin. One is the client experience. We need to provide a single point of interaction. Instead of going to multiple digital pipes to connect, the client can use a single pipe.

Another is being able to handle things in real time and 24/7. The moment you have digital, you want everything instantly. And as commercial models become more e-commerce driven, a lot of transactions happen on the weekend.

The third is the ability to handle rapid change. There’s rapid change in regulations, in security threats and in market infrastructures. If you cannot keep up, things break or will become insecure. This is a very exciting space. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this business.