SINGAPORE: The financial sector has been slow to pick up on digitization, but becoming mobile first is now the only way to survive, according to a senior executive at Citibank.

“We have not progressed as fast as companies, or as an industry,” admitted Jerry Blanton, Citibank’s Head of Marketing & Experience Design for Citi FinTech in Asia and EMEA, in a recent webinar. (For more, read WARC’s report: Citibank’s Eight Tips to Digitize The Customer Journey.)

“We (at Citibank) are rapidly moving in the last few years from being very website-intensive to being truly mobile-first, because that’s the only way in order to survive as an international bank in the future,” he said.

When consumers have a vast choice of banking institutions, a convenient customer experience can be the deciding factor in customer acquisition and retention. The digital journey has led Blanton to realize something very important: not all customer acquisitions are equal.

“Some only want the trolley bag or the giveaway, and then they never use the card. That is a terrible customer for us,” he said.

“It’s become a really interesting exercise to map the KPIs that mean the most to us,” he added. “That's really the exciting part about this part of the digital journey. It's really trying to focus on these things that matter the most, and then hone that process to get people in.”

Fostering a digital first culture, with a culture where experimentation is welcomed, is critical as well.

“Nothing beats actually running and seeing real people do real stuff, and then we scale up, we scale it out of that,” said Blanton, who dubbed the culture within his design team of 35 or so staff as “make or do”.

“We are doing this ourselves and for ourselves, and that is critical for doing this stuff quickly,” he declared.

“We can't pay an agency to come in the next day and look at some stuff and wait for a week and look at some things and test again. Weeks would have gone by – and we'd have missed a moment.”

Sourced from WARC