Banks Must Disrupt Themselves, Not Consumers, Citi Fintech CEO Says

  • Grace Noto
  • June 13, 2017
  • 0

AUSTIN, Texas — Better customer service comes from disruption within, not from trying to change consumer behavior, according to Yolande Piazza, CEO of Citi Fintech.

“I think in fintech we talk a lot about disruption, but let’s be honest—if someone came up to you and said, ‘I want to disrupt your life,’—I don’t think that’s what most customers want,” said Piazza, during her keynote address yesterday at the Digital Banking Conference.

Citi has become a major player in the fintech space since the creation of Citi Fintech in 2015. The group has moved fast in those two years, mainly due to its focus on “internal” processes, according to Piazza.

“We’re not trying to boil the ocean, we’re not trying to compete,” said Piazza, adding that Citi Fintech had focused on a total of two projects for 2016 (with that number expected to triple this year).

Rather than trying to complete dozens of projects within a year–and then leaving half of them by the wayside–banks should focus on internal disruption, changing their own business models, agility, and growth in order to gain customer trust.

That includes partnering with startups, if those companies are better suited to a specific consumer need in question, according to Piazza–a sentiment echoed by other speakers during the event.

For Citi, this cooperative culture extends from everything to partnering with fintech startups to integration with services like the Zelle network, a capability that was also announced yesterday at the event. Citi customers now have the ability to make P2P payments within the Citi app, following Bank of America’s suit (and Wells Fargo’s, which also announced of its plans to roll out the feature this month yesterday).

“I think three years ago the feeling was fintechs are going to come in and eat the banks’ lunch. Now, we approach everything with the mindset that we are either going to build, buy, or partner,” said Piazza. “We [completed] six successful partnerships in 2016, and now have nearly 20 in 2017.”

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