Features : Internet Leaders Think Strategically


In the second of a two-part series, Global Finance identifies the best corporate/institutional and consumer Internet banks globally and in six regions.


The best banks on the Internet have long treated it as more than just another customer channel they have to service. Leading banks viewed the web early on as a strategic initiative and integrated it into virtually everything they do.
For example, Citi—the overall global winner and global corporate/institutional bank winner—has woven Internet banking into its aggressive international growth plans. Citi, which has about 200 million total customer accounts in more than 100 countries, reported international revenue growth of 34% and 29%, respectively, in the past two quarters.

The judges in this competition and other programs such as Greenwich Associates’ recent online services benchmarking study lauded Citi for its online cash management and treasury offerings for corporate customers, such as CitiDirect Online Banking and TreasuryVision. “We continue to innovate and invest in our online platforms, with particular focus on providing clients with actionable analytics, information and tools,” Gary Greenwald, global head of capabilities and information products at Citi’s Global Transaction Services unit, said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased that we are now able to offer these platforms both to our own corporate clients as well as on a private label basis to our partner banks for the benefit of their corporate clients.” Global Transaction Services has a network spanning more than 100 countries, serving more than 65,000 clients.

The world’s best web banks boost customer retention and cross-sell more products and services by better customizing applications to customers’ unique workflows, say Internet consultants. The idea of customization extends to the still emerging trend of providing more web banking services on cell phones, PDAs and other mobile devices. “It’s all about getting customers what they want and allowing them to do whatever they want to do,” says Matthew Lawlor, CEO and co-founder of Online Resources, a Chantilly, Virginia–based provider of outsourced web-based financial technology services to banks, credit unions and credit card companies.


Bank of America—selected as the best consumer Internet bank globally and in North America as well as a winner of two functional sub-categories—has 22 million online banking customers. The bank has used the Internet as a central part of the expansion of its retail customer base. Bank of America was an early leader and innovator in online bill payment—one of the most important applications in the development of Internet banking—and consumer credit. And now it is one of the leaders in launching web-banking applications for mobile devices, including new security measures to support them.

HSBC, with more than 125 million customers and 10,000 offices worldwide, has displayed excellence in Internet banking on both the consumer and corporate/institutional sides, grabbing attention and awards for its integrated websites for both major types of customers.

What ties together most of the award-winning Internet banks is their treatment of web initiatives as strategic, long-term efforts to add customers, boost revenue, improve service to existing clients and become more efficient. “It’s a long-term commitment, a credo,” Lawlor says.

Adam Rombel