So Much for a Great Divide

  • Mary Wisniewski
  • March 1, 2011
  • 0

SAN FRANCISCO – With panels like designing a new bank, mobile money and virtual goods taking place throughout the day, The Future of Money & Technology Summit couldn’t have picked a better name. Innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs filled the sessions yesterday, and it only took a quick scan around the room and overhearing a few mutterings to know just how stoked the crowd was about these topics. But worth noting is that what wrapped up the one-day event heavily centered on startups: a keynote delivered by a bank, whose opening line was striking.

“The statement not made here today is you have to work with a bank. At some point, you will touch a bank. That’s the reality,” said Antonio Benjamin, global CTO for Citigroup/ Global Transaction Services/ Institutional Clients Group.

But startups shouldn’t fear that. “We want to work with all of you,” Benjamin told the audience. Benjamin pointed out he’s probably not the picture of a Citi banker – and I second that – nor was his openness very bank-like. He told attendees to direct message him on Twitter, because he responds to every message. Indeed, he says his aspirations are to work with all the startups attending the event, a timetable that “will be shorter than you think.”

Benjamin also pointed out why a bank like Citi is important to innovators. Simply put: it’s huge. 

“We are an aircraft carrier with massive assets at our disposal,” he said.  

 

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Mary joined the Bank Innovation team in 2011 and serves as its editor, blogger and content curator. She covers the commerce, fintech and small business beats. She also oversees RMG’s custom publications, manages the freelancing team and contributes stories for the media company’s print publications. Prior to working at RMG, Mary was the fashion editor at National Jeweler magazine, where she contributed, among other things, coverage of international jewelry shows, Fashion Week, rising gold prices, bloody Burmese gemstones and a Bill Clinton watch junket. Her written work has also appeared in Cracked, Billboard and a number of fashion blogs and business publications. Mary has a BA in Journalism from Pepperdine University in Malibu. She grew up on a dirt road in the suburbs of Detroit and currently lives in New York with two roommates, a record player, an espresso machine and a toy poodle. Mary is endlessly curious and follows anything that grabs her. Current interests include literature, anthropology, travel, essays and fashion. She is fond of good conversation, oceans, startups, dandyism, coffee, cemeteries, Cat Stevens, Gregor von Rezzori, Oscar Wilde and Gidget.

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