Five years ago, Citi’s global transaction services business launched an innovation lab in Singapore, in a business park out by Changi Airport. At first it felt like a gimmick, but has considered hundreds of ideas since and put 80 to prototype.
These days, time with Citi transaction services bankers can be an enthusiastic tide of innovation and ideas, particularly from new regional cash management head Morgan McKenney. By now, after five years of the Singapore lab, the bank can demonstrate that its brainy ideas can hit critical mass: the CitiDirect BE Mobile solution, now four years old, hit $1 trillion transacted through mobile devices globally in February 2016, $425 billion of it in Asia and $130 billion in India alone. The staid world of cash and trade is enlivened now by discussions of robotics, predictive analytics, distributed ledger technologies and digital identity solutions.
Morgan McKenney, Citi
None of this would be any use if Citi wasn’t doing the basics right, and it clearly is. Greenwich surveys put Citi in front for domestic and international cash management in the region, while from a bottom-line perspective an impressive level of cross-selling success has helped the transaction services business hit nine consecutive quarters of year-on-year revenue growth, and 10 of margin growth.
Some interesting themes are underway, particularly around liquidity management and structured trade. Citi supports more than 4,000 concentration structures in Asia, and has made progress in irksome areas like multibank sweeping in India and the need to tailor products that combine liquidity with Basel III coverage commitments.
As cross-border business involving China has become more practical, Citi’s liquidity management services team grew cross-border structures by 180% year-on-year in our review period. And while huge excess liquidity has flooded many local markets and their corporates at the same time that trade flows have declined, Citi has built bespoke structures for clients from Taiwanese electronics to Korean construction to make the best of exacting circumstances.