Citi Pay Rolls Out Abroad, U.S. Launch Planned for 2017

Citigroup today announced another digital wallet for payments, Citi Pay, to enable payments in-store, in-app, and of course online.

The service will be rolling out to Citibank customers in Australia, Singapore, and Mexico later this year, with a U.S. launch planned for early 2017. (Few banks are as global as Citi.)

Barry Rodrigues, head of global digital payments at Citi, said of the new wallet:

Citi Pay is a digital extension of the card relationships we have with our customers. This wallet allows them to make purchases online and in-app using their existing Citibank online user ID and password, and to complete purchases in stores through tap and pay technology. This is an important step for us. While payments innovation continues to accelerate, our focus is delivering solutions that are responsive to our customers’ needs.

Citibank will also be partnering with Mastercard to leverage the company’s Masterpass offering within the digital wallet, a partnership that will allow the bank’s customers to complete in-app or online transactions with every merchant connected to the Masterpass network, meaning hundreds of thousands of merchants.

“We have a shared vision [with Citi] around what’s possible in payments and digital,” said Matt Barr, group head, U.S. emerging payments at Mastercard, of the partnership with Citi.

Citi has leveraged Masterpass previously for in-browser transactions with its Citi Masterpass product. According to Barr, this new integration with Citi Pay is an “upgrade of that experience,” as it now means Citi customers can complete in-app or mobile-based transactions in the same manner.

Customers will use their existing Citi credentials for Citi Pay, a factor that should make the transaction flow smoother.

Additionally, Citi customers who have remained loyal to their Android devices in spite of the rough ride Samsung is experiencing this year will also have the ability to pay via NFC at the point of sale, otherwise known as contactless payments. (Apple does not currently allow third parties to access its NFC transmitter, though some, such as Pay Finders CEO Brian Roemmele, believe it will, eventually.)

NFC technology may still be up and coming in the U.S., but consumers in markets like Australia have been comfortable with contactless card payments for years, so this is really a simple continuation of the process transferred to mobile.

Of course, Citibank is far from the only player to launch this kind of digital wallet payment product—JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have launched branded wallets as well. This particular area is sort of the Thunderdome of fintech, if we’re all being honest—but the fact that the product carries the brand awareness of Citi could help foster that key sense of trust needed for users to adopt the wallet.

“There’s a growing list of banks that have put out a payments solution out of their branding, and I think that’s the right move,” says Barr, citing financial institutions like KeyBank and Capital One. “Coming under that bank’s brand; it’s trusted; that’s really important. In this migration to digital this kind of trust and ease is key to adoption.”

Citigroup has a demonstrated interest in technological and financial innovation—it has an innovation group called Citi Fintech solely devoted to it, and its venture capital arm Citi Ventures has invested in fintech startups including Betterment, Chain, FastPay, and Square.

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