Citizens touts fintech partnerships, in-house tech development

Citizens Financial Group CEO Bruce Van Saun said that enhancing its digital platform is one of the biggest challenges and focuses for 2019.

In an interview with the Albany Business Review, Van Saun said that involves building a new mobile and online platform. Citizens Bank is taking those services in-house, and has hired 30 digital analysts and programmers to work on that project. The bank plans to have up to 75 people working on its digital platform over the next few months.

But like many other banks, Citizens (NYSE: CFG), whose banking subsidiary Citizens Bank is the Philadelphia region's fourth-largest deposit taker, has also formed partnerships with fin tech companies to handle development in certain areas.

Speaking in Philadelphia earlier this year at a Wharton Leadership Conference, Van Saun said that like other industries, the banking world is dealing with fundamental change to both business models and technology, with competition coming from new players such as fintechs. According to Forbes, he said the only way to keep up is to accelerate the pace of change and innovation.

“Customers simply see no reason why they can’t enjoy the same functionality in managing their money as they enjoy ordering a product online or organizing a playlist on iTunes,” Van Saun said. “Their belief – and righfully so – is that they should be able to log in and ‘just have it work.’ Period.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) has introduced Finn, an all-mobile offering targeting millennials. Bank of America recently created Erica, an artificial intelligence product that serves as a virtual assistant of sorts.

Providence, R.I.-based Citizens launched Citizens Access, a nationwide online banking service focused on the collection of deposits. The service has already passed $1 billion in deposits after launching less than three months ago.

Citizens has formed six different partnerships with fintech companies over the past two years that stretch across the bank’s business lines. Last year, for instance, it began using an investing platform for its wealth management clients that was built by the Silicon Valley startup SigFig. It’s also teamed with Virginia-based Fundation to make it easier for small-business customers to apply for loans of under $250,000.

Van Saun told the Boston Business Journal that Citizens plans to announce more partnerships in mortgage lending, credit scoring and cash management, though he said it was too early to divulge details.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker from bizjournals.com

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