Briefing: Citigroup looks to Asia, Ant Financial for future digital strategy

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Citigroup Sees Asian Firms Like Ant Financial Setting the Pace – Bloomberg

What happened: US banking giant Citigroup is looking to use financial technology and services that have caught on in Asia, such as mobile payments and credit pre-approvals, as it draws up a road map for its global digital strategy. The company has been building out its mobile app back home, and is taking notes from Chinese fintech giant Ant Financial. Alibaba’s fintech affiliate has created an entire financial services ecosystem, Stephen Bird, Citigroup’s consumer banking chief, said on Wednesday at a conference in New York. “We’re using the Far East as a clarion call as to where it’s all going,” Bird said.

Why it’s important: Emerging markets in Asia, namely China and India, are adopting fintech at rates faster than many developed countries. China in particular has become an important destination for financial service providers looking to expand their digital business. China’s established companies like Alibaba and Tencent have been cultivating their fintech business and developing technologies like mobile payment apps. China is signaling that it may open up its financial markets, beckoning foreign banks and other financial service providers.