Treasury Insights Via Data And AI: Q&A With Global Head of Digital, Treasury and Trade Solutions Naveed Anwar

Naveed Anwar, Citi’s global head of Digital, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS), explains how data is helping the bank enhance the treasury tool bag.

Global Finance: How can internal data consolidation help your clients make better use of it?

Naveed Anwar: Given the commoditization of artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning technologies, with the methodologies available in open source or commercial products, the differentiator is data and having it organized in a way that makes it discoverable and easily accessible.

Citi is creating a high-quality, authoritative data source for both reference data and transaction data, to enable us to bring new products and services to market and improve the customer experience. Our in-house service representatives, for instance, benefit from faster, more consistent access to transaction and account data globally. At the same time, we can leverage this data to offer clients self-service capabilities.

Citi Payment Insights was one of TTS’s first online tools to evolve from these data consolidation efforts. It gives clients direct online access to real-time details about their payments transactions across Citi’s entire global network and the correspondent banking ecosystem. 

Citi Payment Outlier Detection and Citi Smart Match are a few other examples of how we’re harnessing data and applying new technologies to help clients reduce risks and create operating efficiencies.

GF: What else are you doing to derive value from data and AI?

Anwar: We are applying machine learning and AI techniques to derive value from data by identifying pain points for clients to construct a data architecture that can help efficiently execute solutions. One innovative application of machine learning is called Citi Payment Outlier Detection [CPOD], which uses an algorithm to flag outlier transactions based on payment history across different factors, such as transaction size, destination and time of day.

Beyond the well-documented benefits of the public cloud, like increased flexibility of resource usage, the key benefit for us will be to democratize data across the organization and with our clients. Right now we have a central data lake, housing all TTS data that is dependent on complex data ingestion pipelines. Data brokers possess the technical skills and understanding to serve the data to end users. In the future, once our data is transferred to the public cloud, we can leverage cutting-edge, cloud-native tools that can scan all of our data and create intelligent business catalogs connected to self-service, no-code tools such as Stoic and Sigma. This will enable a “data mesh,” where nontechnical business users can derive insights from domain-specific data and develop data products for our clients without having to depend on data brokers.

Another future use case will be the incorporation of data from blockchain transactions. We will need to stream the blockchain activity in real time into our data lake to perform analytics that can predict clients’ needs and gather insights. Last but not least, we are planning to build the capabilities to capture data created from transactions in the metaverse.

GF: What remaining friction points would you like to digitally solve for your corporate clients?

Anwar: Our clients are demanding real-time information, not just on transactions with us but also the interactions their clients have with their business. Our digital platform strategy includes both the automation of treasury and self-service, but also delivering insights in real time from our clients’ clients, who are consumers, distributors, as well as suppliers. We are bringing capabilities to a single platform under CitiDirect, including payments, receivables, liquidity, trade and more, with a unified consistent look and feel. 

Another area is onboarding, where we have a client portal which provides transparency as to where clients are within the onboarding cycle. We also enhanced the onboarding journey to support both SWIFT and host-to-host connections to deliver a truly channel-agnostic experience. As part of this transformation, Citi has extended its eSignature footprint to over 74 markets and has recently launched remote identity validation via Zoom, eliminating the need for clients to externally certify.