Do Rewards Need to Change with Mobile Banking? No, Citi Says [VIDEO]

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EXCLUSIVE— One of the largest draws for a credit card is its rewards program—an area banks have been competing in for decades. But will the approach need to change as more consumers chose to bank exclusively on mobile?

For Citibank, the answer is no. The bank is going to focus on integrating the rewards program with its mobile app, Mary Hines, managing director, head of card benefits, new product development and global rewards, told Bank Innovation, which should allow the bank to maintain its relationship with the customer via mobile.

“The importance of having a mobile application to use rewards — we’ve made a tremendous [effort] in integrating rewards into the Citi mobile app,” said Hines.

The bank’s rewards, which include partnership deals with companies like Amazon and Best Buy, are compatible with the bank’s Citi Mobile app. Rewards can be viewed in the bank’s standalone payment app, Citi Pay, recently launched per the video below, but can only be redeemed in the Citi Mobile app, a spokesperson for the bank said.

While rewards differ depending on the card (either the Citi Premier or Prestige), the most popular redemption the bank sees is for gift cards, Hines said, which can be easily loaded into a digital account for spending.

The point for Citi is to enable users to “redeem their points where they are,” Hines said, which includes the point-of-sale as well as on mobile.

Citi does not segment its rewards customers according to the typical demographics, according to Hines, it’s a fair bet that a good chunk of the bank’s 9 million mobile customers are millennials — “digital natives” used to fast, efficient service on mobile. In fact, 40% of Citi MAUs are millennials, a spokesperson for the bank told Bank Innovation.

Citi, though it experienced a 21% increase in mobile users YoY according to its most recent earnings call, is not in the top league for mobile banking—an honor that seems reserved for Chase and Bank of America, banks who have or are close to having more than 30 million MAUs.

Will keeping a traditional focus on rewards be the deciding factor for Citi? We’ll have to wait and see.

To learn more about mobile banking and card rewards, join us on March 5-6, 2018 at the Parc 55 in San Francisco for Bank Innovation 2018. Click here to request an invitation.