BankTech

Citi builds a digital ‘Bridge’ between SMEs and local banks

Citi aims to remove antiquated processes for SME's for up to $10 million loans

Another day, another bank moving forward with digital adoption.

Citi announced Thursday the launch of its new digital platform aimed to connect small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with regional, local and community banks. Coined Bridge built by Citi, the tech will connect SMEs looking for loans of up to $10 million with local lenders.

The Bridge platform is currently in its pilot program stage – integrated with 18 banks across the Southeast and Rockies regions, including Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

No word yet has been released on when the tech will be dispersed at a larger scale.

Richard Banziger, head of US commercial bank for Citi, said in the release, “As both a lender and a community stakeholder, we have a deep understanding of the problems businesses face when trying to navigate the borrowing process.

“We are committed to finding digital solutions that can make the process easier, more seamless and more equitable.”

The company has been working to bolster digital trends for some time now, but has continued to invest millions of dollars in minority depository institutions.

Most recently, Citi promoted Sandeep Arora as the head of digital and chief investment officer for its Institutional Clients Group (ICG) division. In collaboration with all the lines of business, he’ll also bolster adoption of the digital services already deployed.

Towards the end of 2020, Anand Selva, CEO of Citigroup’s US Consumer Banking division said while they are not averse to extending their physical network, digital was going to take the lead in its physical expansion.

‘We’d like to see a concentration of customers in our digital channels. And depending on that, we could be very open to extend physically, but not in significant quantities.”

However, Selva pointed out that consumers are starting to come into bank branches for advisory conversations and therefore bank branches are also evolving to become more “advisory type centers.”

Although digital and mobile banking are referenced as main drivers of bank branch closures, this NCRC report finds that it’s more likely caused by the rapid consolidation within the banking industry since the Great RecessionWhen banks acquire other banks, they may have two branches in the same area. This creates unnecessary redundancy.

Bucking the trend, Citizens Financial Group announced an agreement to acquire the holding company for Investors Bank, Investors Bancorp, in a cash and stock deal worth nearly $3.5 billion. Citizens accredited the acquisition as a “strategic move in the Northeast physical banking space,” adding 154 branches to Citizens ecosystem, including 130 in the New York City metropolitan area.

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