Wednesday, January 31, 2018
India’s Growth Prospects
For some time now, we have had a strong view that India is in the cross-hairs of global capital flows. There are a variety of reasons for that as has been eloquently and passionately articulated by our Prime Minister in Davos. This is manifested in significant increases in FDI to India at a time when world FDI is shrinking and this is evidenced by massive FPI flows from multiple sources.
With an unrivalled network and footprint of 98 countries and an over 115 year presence in India, Citi is uniquely positioned to act as a bridge between India and the rest of the world and to work closely with global multinationals and institutions alike. At the same time, we deploy our global network for large and mid-sized businesses, households and institutions. It is a two-way ambassadorial responsibility that we are privileged to have, which gives rise to a very exciting opportunity.
I recently spoke with The Times of India about the factors leading to our growth in India, the business prospects that were presenting themselves and how talent was supporting global innovation. When you put together low-credit penetration, the presence of Aadhaar, digitisation as an enabler and overlay all those with GST, there is an extraordinary opportunity. To read more about this and other related topics in The Times of India, please click here.
A little over a year ago, the Government of India caught our nation by surprise by its announcement on demonetisation. In the ensuing period, a multiplicity of views and opinions have been expressed. In this blog, I will attempt to summarise what we think the impact of demonetisation has been on a subject that is clearly integral to India’s future. The digitisation of money and more broadly, that of our economy.
The advent or the progress of digitisation is best evaluated by looking at statistics represented by some of the key enablers of the digital flow of money:
- Debit cards: up 11% to 820 million cards; transaction value increased by 14%
- Credit cards: up 18% to 33 million cards; transaction value increased by 41%
- Unified Payment Interface (UPI): up from under Rs.1 billion to Rs.70 billion
- Immediate Payment Service (IMPS): more than doubled to over Rs.750 billion
- Point of Sale (POS): increased by 1 million to 2.8 million units
As is evident by these extraordinary and unprecedented increases in the use of cashless modes of payment, individuals and households have unequivocally embraced various forms of convenient paperless options since demonetisation. In the past, I have often written about the benefit of digital for all participants in our economy. I do hope that you too have adopted digitisation as a way of life and experienced its clear benefits.
At Citi, as we continue to enhance and evolve our own digital capabilities and propositions, we would be delighted to hear about your own cashless journey over the last one year.
My very best wishes to all of you and your families for Diwali and the New Year.
Diwali is the festival of lights, the victory of good over evil. Diwali is also about togetherness, love and giving. Equally important, the festival is a wonderful opportunity for us to find ways to be generous and help those who are less fortunate than we are.
As in previous years, Citi has designed a special program to support an important cause. This program is directly linked to your Citibank credit card and will be triggered by the card’s usage. Your transactions will result in us making a contribution to St. Jude India Childcare Centres that supports children battling cancer. Please click here for more details of #GivingAtCitiThisDiwali. And if you don’t have a Citibank Credit Card, please do click here to get one.
St. Jude India is an extraordinary institution that provides a fostering and positive environment for these children and their families, who travel from across the country to Mumbai and other urban centers for cancer treatment. It provides housing, nutrition, transportation, counselling, music, art, and drama therapy sessions that enable the children, and their families, to have a home away from home, as the children undergo their treatment. This remarkable organization has provided cancer care to almost 12,000 children over the last few years.
As you celebrate Diwali, please partner with us by using the best credit cards in the industry. In doing so, your festive spends will simultaneously support a very noble cause.
In India, we at Citi are very honored to have a family of 15,600 employees. Pertinently, this family has an average age of 32 years, representing, in many ways, the country’s young, energised and vibrant demography. Recently, I was delighted to welcome 310 fresh graduates to the Citi India family. This class of 2017, comprising of 235 undergraduates and 75 graduate students with varying degrees in a number of fields including Engineering, Management, Economics, Commerce and Statistics, is the latest batch of young students to join us. We are very proud of our ability to attract such bright talent from India’s most accomplished academic institutions and hope these young recruits feel equally proud to join our company.
For us at Citi, talent is our most important asset. We pay a lot of attention to not just recruiting the best talent, but to investing in them. We create opportunities for them to learn and grow, to get exposure, experience and expertise and to forge careers for themselves in India, or across the world. In doing so, we hope to create future leaders.
The financial services industry in India is arguably amongst the most attractive opportunities in the world today. The digital revolution that we are currently witnessing will only catalyse this opportunity further. No financial institution can participate meaningfully without the right talent at the helm. Not only are we very grateful to all our employees for all that they do for Citi every single day, but we are now even stronger with the addition of 310 new members into our fold.
Over the last two years, I have often written about the extraordinary digital revolution that India is currently witnessing and the multiplicity of opportunities that this presents to every one of us in our daily lives. “Pay with points”, whilst using a Citibank Credit Card, is yet another innovative and pioneering first that I am very pleased to share with you. This mode of payment ticks all the right boxes in today’s digital world. It is simple, speedy and secure. At the same time, it allows you to efficiently and conveniently utilize your hard-earned reward points at a time and manner of your choosing.
Pay with points is now live on the following Citibank Credit Cards - Rewards, IndianOil, PremierMiles and Prestige - with 11 leading merchants encompassing a spectrum of your purchase requirements. These merchants are Indian Oil, Indigo, makemytrip, Yatra, Goibibo, Westside, Shoppers Stop, bookmyshow, Vodafone and Amazon Gift Cards. As you can see this covers a significant component of your households needs. Further, Pay with points represents a quantum leap forward from the days when card holders were forced to utilize reward points only on catalogues with limited products and long delivery periods. Now, you have the opportunity to continue to use your card for your daily requirements and then pay with points both at a physical point of purchase or online. Of course, this does not mean that other options to redeem reward points cease to exist. There will continue to be multiple other redemption options such as cashbacks, physical gift vouchers and air miles.
As I have said many times before, the new digital world that we are in is one with infinite possibilities. If leveraged intelligently, it will continue to bring increasing value to our lives and transform our lifestyles. Pay with points is just one more small and simple, but powerful step in that direction. You can learn more about Pay with points by clicking here, but if you don’t have a Citibank card yet, please click here to get one now.
On July 12, I wrote about Citi India’s efforts in the corporate social responsibility arena and how honored we are to partner with such extraordinary institutions. Today, I am writing about the efforts of my colleagues to make a meaningful difference to the communities in which we live and work in as responsible citizens.
During 2016-17, Citi India invested Rs. 551 million with our 39 partners, resulting in a direct impact on 1.47 million individual lives. These efforts were led by 34 Citibankers who, as our ‘Citi Champions’, worked closely together with our partners to anchor the work that we do together.
In addition, via a bespoke initiative, we invited our employees to participate voluntarily in a specially designed Employee Payroll Contribution Program, which gives them the opportunity to make a deduction from their respective monthly payrolls and contribute to any of the following six partner NGO institutions: ADAPT - Able Disabled All People Together, SOS Children’s Villages of India, HelpAge India, Make A Wish Foundation of India, St. Jude India ChildCare Centres and The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Importantly, each contribution made by an employee, is matched by a commitment from Citi to contribute an equivalent amount.
I am extremely proud to share with you that 1,425 Citibankers have now signed up to participate in this program, contributing an amount of Rs. 1.1 million monthly. Combined with Citibank's matching contribution, we expect to make a total donation of approximately Rs. 24.0 million in 2017–18 to these six wonderful institutions. I am also confident that these amounts will only increase over time, with more of our colleagues joining to experience the joy of giving.
It has been heartwarming for me to witness how the concept of contributing to our communities has spread across our organization. The desire to participate and contribute has become almost infectious. I am very proud of all my colleagues and would like to thank each one of them for championing Citi’s mission of enabling progress and carrying this baton forward.
Citi's mission is to serve as a trusted partner to our clients by responsibly providing financial services that enable growth and economic progress. Inspired by our mission, we are deeply committed to the communities in which we live and work in through our Citizenship efforts.
In India specifically, for over 115 years, we have been privileged to be a part of India’s growth and that of our clients’. As our over 2-trillion-dollar economy with a population of 1.3 billion takes its next steps to become one of the most relevant markets on the global stage, we believe that it is critical for all Indians to have the opportunity to participate in this growth. With this in mind, Citi continues to invest in areas that are extremely important to support the development of a more inclusive and holistic society.
Through our Citizenship activities for the financial year ended March 31, 2017, we continued to focus in areas that are important in India. These include youth skilling and employability, education and financial inclusion, as well as powering small and micro enterprise owners. In addition, we have also made contributions to preserve and further India’s rich cultural legacy, improve the quality of lives through healthcare, enable the specially abled, promote civic awareness and advance environmental sustainability. Overall, in 2016-17, we have invested a total of INR 551 million, directly impacting 1.47 million individuals. This was possible as we deepened our relationships with our existing partners and brought new ones into our family. I would like to thank these partners for all that they do and look forward to our work together going forward.
I invite you all to read our 2016-17 Corporate Citizenship Report, ‘Citizens of Progress', which describes our contributions and our initiatives towards supporting communities across India. As always, I welcome your feedback.
The world today is faced with an uncertain and unpredictable future from a geopolitical perspective. Relationships between nations that existed in the past are not necessarily a precursor to the future. This extends to political alliances as well as to economic blocs and agreements. In this context, the partnership between our country and the US assumes great importance. The significance therefore of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US cannot be overstated.
In my own view, the partnership between the two countries will be a strategically important and deeply enduring one that will become amongst the most relevant relationships of the 21st century. This will be built on, and revolve around, a multiplicity of factors. The two most vibrant democracies in the world, a shared sense of values and beliefs, an important mutual strategic defence objective in the Asia Pacific region, people-to-people ties and burgeoning trade and capital flows.
Let us take a look at some specific numbers. Three million NRIs who live in the US have deep philosophical, emotional and economic ties with India. Over 500 US companies employ more than 1 million people in India1 and conversely, more than 100 Indian companies have created close to 100,000 jobs in the US2. Since 2000, US direct investments in India have amounted to close to US$250 billion, while Indian investments in the US totalled over US$50 billion3. During this period, two-way trade has grown five times to US$115 billion4 and the two countries have set an ambitious, but achievable target of $500 billion. Finally, extraordinary opportunities exist for both countries in the fields of defence, energy, aerospace, infrastructure, education, science, healthcare and technology.
At Citi, with a presence in 98 countries, backed by a network and capabilities to match, we see ourselves acting as a bridge between not just India and the US, but between India and the rest of the world, facilitating economic progress for businesses and households alike. The India – US partnership exemplifies exactly the kind of opportunity for us to play a meaningful role in. Citi, as a truly global multinational financial institution, is determined to leverage our footprint to the benefit of our clients and to contribute to expanding relationships such as the one that exists between India and the US.
1 US Embassy and Consulate in India
2, 4 Embassy of India, Washington DC, USA
3 Statista 2017
There is an extraordinary transformation taking place in the financial services industry in India. Individuals, households and businesses across our country are all moving larger and larger amounts of money electronically, every single day. In doing so, they are also reaping the associated benefits. In fact, our Honorable Prime Minister envisions that as many as 25 billion digital transactions will take place this fiscal year.
All of this has become possible because our Government, the regulators, utilities, banks, NBFC's, microfinance companies and fintech players are all working together to create, arguably, the most efficient digital payments ecosystem in the world. This will inevitably further accelerate India's fast-growing economy. Along the way, massive amounts of extremely valuable data will be transmitted and collected, increasing the risk of cyber attacks.
Cyber security is a clear and present concern for all of us. Consequently, building a powerful and efficient ecosystem is simply not enough. Ensuring its resilience will be vital to the success and the sustainability of a vibrant payment infrastructure in the long term.
As a digital bank catering to both individuals and institutions globally, we strongly believe that we are custodians not only of our clients' money, but also of the information and data that we become repositories of. A secure banking platform is hence of critical importance to us. This includes continuous evaluation of our preparedness and safety, regular testing, round-the-clock monitoring, enforcing preventive controls, investing in the right technology and cross-sharing information with all our industry partners and our regulators.
At the same time, cyber security is a collective responsibility for every single one of us. I would urge all of you to keep yourself constantly abreast of the best practices for banking online, on the mobile and over the telephone. Always remind yourself not to share sensitive data, including passwords and pins, to unknown callers or persons and to protect your computers with licensed anti-virus software. Finally, place your faith only in credible, trustworthy counterparties for your money and data.
The success of India’s digitization revolution depends significantly upon the robustness of our infrastructure and systems. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Together, let us continue to participate in its growth and benefits, wisely.
Today, the economic and political environment we see in the world remains uncertain and volatile. On the one hand, the benefits of globalisation are being questioned, with a view that they have accrued only to a very small section of society. This is leading to the opposition of a more global world, and to proponents calling for more nationalism and patriotism. This could potentially have an impact on India’s trade and capital flows.
However, I believe India is less vulnerable to such risks than most emerging markets. First, we have a US$2 trillion economy growing at more than 7% per annum; very few other such markets exist. Second, we have political stability and a strong reform agenda, which does not exist in many parts of the world. A combination of these factors will continue to make India attractive to capital flows, as is evidenced by the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investors’ (FII) inflows witnessed over the last few years.
Multinational companies and FIIs represent strong examples India’s growing economic strength. They are attracted by India’s large consumption market, as they are to the opportunity of utilising India as a manufacturing or services base to serve other global markets. To read more about this and other related subjects in The Times of India, click here.
It is estimated that over 180 million people in India are active on social media. Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, amongst others. Social media is defined as websites and other online means of communication that are used by large groups of people to share information and to develop social and professional contacts. It is clear that this medium is the preferred communication channel for people who are digitally active. It is also the obvious choice to connect with others, grab the latest headlines, learn about new product releases, communicate actively with preferred providers of all goods and services and connect with favourite brands. Most importantly, such platforms provide individuals the opportunity to voice their views, opinions, likes and dislikes.
As an institution which serves over 200 million individuals and households around the world, we too have embraced this trend. As an organization which aspires to be incredibly digital, we will continue to leverage social media to serve our customers better. For example, we introduced ‘Snapshot’ for Citi Mobile users to view their account details, in Diwali last year we contributed towards meals for 11,000 children by matching spends of our credit card customers, ran a digital contest in our endeavor to incentivize the use of less cash and we spread the word across the community to attend the Citi – NCPA Aadi Anant Music Festival. In each of these, we were able to leverage social media platforms to exponentially multiply our reach and enhance the effectiveness of our outreach to all of you.
In India today, we are proud and delighted to have over 1 million followers on our Facebook page. With each successive campaign, we aim to grow our audience, to learn more about those who are interested in us and to learn more from those who engage with us. The amount of data that we receive every day is enormous. However, it is also very powerful and we pledge to use it effectively and for your benefit. For us at Citi, innovation and pioneering of new ideas have very often come from our customers. We view this as an extraordinary bank of intellectual capital that we will always tap into. The voices of our customers and our fans help us remain strong, agile and current.
Please continue talking to us. We are listening....
India's transformation into a less cash society has quite clearly and unequivocally started taking place. It is a revolution that is unstoppable. Each one of us must participate in this movement, or risk being left behind and disadvantaged. In my last blog, I talked about the benefits of going cash free through credit cards. On this occasion, I would like to share with you the possibilities that exist around digital payments in every aspect of our lives. I would also like to exalt all of you to start the process of beginning to go cashless. India’s digital payment ecosystem is well geared to meet all our needs.
We now have options to transfer funds from one bank account to another, to pay utilities and other providers of services, to book mutual funds or fixed deposits, to select insurance policies, to purchase food, medicines, and other essentials, to buy travel tickets or make luxury purchases, to load money into our digital payment wallets, and to carry out mobile-to-mobile transfers linked to bank accounts. All this can be done either via mobile phones or online, conveniently, quickly and in a secure manner. The list of possibilities is endless and encompasses almost all aspects of our daily lives.
To start evaluating how you are performing on this digital journey, please think about creating your very own digital index. Use this digital index to evaluate what percentage of your daily or monthly expenditure is being made in a cashless form and how this cashless component of your payments and expenses increases every month, improving your score. At the same time, please remember that it is incumbent on us to spread the word and also help others navigate our new payment ecosystem. I believe that we are a country of very quick learners and adopters and we can all contribute to this cause.
However, we must exercise caution and follow certain safety rules. Change your password regularly and do not share or write them down. Sign up for SMS alerts from your bank. Check your statements, emails and other communications regarding your transactions all the time. If you believe there has been any misuse, file a complaint as soon as possible. To learn more about security around digital banking, click here.
At Citi, we will soon be launching our own Go Cashless campaign. I look forward to your participation.
Never before in India's history, has there been such a concerted effort towards the digitization of money. Each one of us can, and must, play our part in this movement.
Making payments are a critical component of any household. Debit and credit cards can play a powerful, convenient, secure and economically rewarding role towards purchasing essentials and for other requirements, and can typically achieve multiple objectives. They are used as a payment channel, reduce the need for us to hold currency, allow us to obtain credit should we so require, and afford us the opportunity to earn a host of rewards whilst doing so.
Across the world, Citi has been a leading issuer of cards. In India, our various card products cater to many needs and offer possibly the most powerful reward programs in the industry, with loyalty benefits solving the demands of a typical household or a business enterprise. In essence, these cards are designed to make spending both a convenient and a lucrative experience. Please do take a look at our family of Citi Card products that exist.
However, as must always be the case, in spending and in earning exciting rewards for ourselves, we cannot ignore those who are less fortunate than we are. For example, during the Diwali Season, in an attempt to do just that, we designed a unique rewards program which benefits underprivileged students in conjunction with your spending. For every 1500 rupees that our credit card customers spent on dining, we committed to contributing towards a child’s meal per month to Akshaya Patra Foundation. Table reservation site EazyDiner, who is one of our key partners, also contributed to the cause based on bookings made on their website. I am happy to share that we will be supporting the provision of meals for an entire year to 11,000 children through this initiative.
In my next blog, I will write about issues related to security and safety in the usage of cards of all kinds.
Article 51A(f) of the Constitution of India states and I quote, "It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture."
From the beginning of civilization as we know it, our country has produced the very best of art and architecture. History has been witness to that, as have each one of us. We have marveled at the intrinsic beauty of this art and architecture, been in awe of its creators and artisans, reveled and taken pride in its Indian origin and are indebted to its sponsors and patrons.
As we contemplate the future, we must spare a moment to think of what history will say several years from now about our own contribution to this magnificent legacy. We must think about whether our future generations will also be able to feel the same way as we do about our extraordinary heritage.
The Citi-CSMVS ConservArte project, is a Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and Citi India partnership. Under the aegis of this project, 150 National treasures and iconic works spanning 5000 years of history, from 2500 BCE to contemporary times are being conserved and restored. The ConservArte project was inaugurated on September 2, 2016, with the exhibition ‘Conserving the Collection - The caring path of 5000 years of our art,’ to showcase the first 50 of these remarkable treasures, many of which have never been viewed before.
The ConservArte project, supported by Citi India, shows that there is indeed a role to play for corporate India. In partnership with world class institutions like CSMVS and working with committed individuals like Mr. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director-General, CSMVS, and Mr. Anupam Sah, Head of Art Conservation, Research, and Training CSMVS Museum Art Conservation Centre, and their incredibly talented conservation team, we are very pleased that we have been able to play a role in protecting and conserving our heritage.
I do hope that you will take time with your families to enjoy this wonderful exhibition of extraordinary works. The exhibition, which will be open until November 27, 2016, will not only give you a glimpse into our nation’s rich past, it will also demonstrate just how gratifying and important it is to fulfill one’s fundamental duty.
At Citi, talent is amongst our most important assets. Consequently, we are extremely focused on investing in the growth and progress of our employees. Our truly global footprint and incredibly diverse platform, offers extraordinary career opportunities and choices for our people. Making it possible for them to access these opportunities and achieve their aspirations is imperative for us. Providing them with knowledge, expertise and experience is an equally important objective.
Amongst our many initiatives is the annual Career Week. During Career Week, our employees get the opportunity to learn more about Citi’s businesses in India and globally, to get updated on developments in our industry and to network and engage with leaders at Citi.
The global banking industry is evolving rapidly. This is true too in India, albeit at an even faster pace. The drivers of change are plenty. Proliferation of mobile telephony and the internet, the creation of incredibly smart IOS or Android based mobile applications that reside on the cloud, over a billion people with unique identifications, etc. Meanwhile, our customers are demanding simple, secure and swift ways to access banking products and services. Finally, across the world there is an increasing realization of the need for the formal banking channels to be much more inclusive. All of this means bigger and more exciting opportunities for people who work in our industry. At the same time, it also means the importance and need to be more knowledgeable, well trained and better equipped.
This week at Career Week, Citi leaders will speak on varying themes such as FinTech, digital banking, analytics, robotics, the global economic backdrop, leadership, re-defining skills, amongst others. Our employees will also learn about the multitude of career opportunities that exist in Citi, both in India and globally. Unarguably, a very exciting time to be a young banker.
But possibly, the most important messages for young bankers and those aspiring to make their mark in our industry, are more basic. First, to be open to learning and to adapt to change. And second, to take charge of one's own career.
I invite you to share your thoughts on embracing your own career journeys.
I am delighted to enclose Citi India's 2015-2016 Citizenship Report, summarizing our efforts to contribute to the communities that we live and operate in, and in doing so, to our country. At Citi, we have always believed that sustainable growth for us is predicated on the progress of our community and markets. With this in mind, we have increased our investments and our efforts significantly in conjunction with the Citi Foundation.
Since 2014, we have broadened our portfolio with the introduction of the India Innovation Grant Program, to support sustainable and innovative delivery models focused on people empowerment. We added new programs and expanded existing ones within our art and culture portfolio to proliferate India's incredibly rich heritage. We made concerted efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and found innovative, environmentally friendly ways to work in our offices. Equally important, we formed new partnerships.
I am very pleased to share that we have been able to impact the lives of 580,000 women, youth and children through India Innovation Grant Program initiatives. In 2015 - 2016, Citi invested a total of INR 392 million towards our Citizenship initiatives. This collective work was only possible because of the world class work our partners do.
For more than a century, we have been privileged to have been present in India. Still, as India takes its well-deserved spot on the world stage, there is much for all of us to do. Initiatives such as the Government of India's Start Up India, Skilling India and Jan Dhan Yojana, to name a few, clearly have the potential to transform the socio-economic fabric of India. However, to be successful, these efforts must be long lasting and their impact generational.
With this in mind, we titled this year’s Citizenship Report 'Citizens of Progress' In the pages that follow, we present our programs and their impact on society. We also share comments from individuals who have directly experienced their influence. We look forward to your comments and would be delighted to receive your feedback.
Contributing and giving back to the communities which we are privileged to operate in, is an integral part of the Citi ethos. This complements the role that we play every day in enabling the economic progress of our clients and of our country.
India as we all know has an extraordinarily rich and varied cultural heritage. This includes amongst other things, art and architecture, music and dance. Over the last decade, it has been our aspiration to play a role in nurturing, preserving and promoting these art forms. And we have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to partner with selfless and world class institutions that excel in these fields.
Our journey began in 2007, when we became the first patron of the Symphony Orchestra of India. Our relationship with National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) has since only grown in strength. In 2010, we initiated the Citi-NCPA Guru Shishya program, through which multiple scholarships have been awarded to aspiring students and close to 50 shishyas trained by 12 renowned gurus. A year later we co-founded the Citi-NCPA Aadi Anant Festival of Indian Music, which has since been enjoyed by over 20,000 people in several cities across India. Additionally, about 500 students have participated in the Citi-NCPA Music for Schools program.
Working with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), we launched two unique programs. ConservArte, in which 150 extraordinary art objects spanning over 4,000 years of history – from the relics of Ajanta and Harappa to works by India’s Modern Master V.S. Gaitonde - will be conserved and restored, and the Museum on Wheels program, which aims to provide an interactive educational experience to children in under privileged communities across Maharashtra, "on wheels". In just five months, 16,000 children and community members have learned of the Mohenjo-Daro civilization through this initiative, which will showcase new exhibits every six months.
In Bengaluru, we partnered with India Foundation for the Arts to re-imagine public spaces and bring to life the history of the region's culture through Project 560. As India’s cultural journey continues to evolve, we are extremely excited to be playing a small role. We hope that you too are able to join us in this journey. In fact, if you have any ideas or suggestions, please do feel free to let us know.
It is becoming increasingly evident, that expectations of our customers today are being shaped not just by their experiences with the banking industry, but by their interactions with innovative organizations across a multiplicity of sectors. Consequently, customers demand from their banks the same levels of speed, simplicity and hyper-personalization that they receive from other global and domestic customer centric companies. Further, social media helps accelerate this process by influencing the expectations of so many others who may not be aware of such possibilities.
This change in customer expectation makes it imperative for banks to innovate and re-invent their product and service delivery models and channels. It is here, that I believe, data analytics and technology can dramatically transform current practices, not only in terms of how products are designed, but also in terms of how they are delivered.
As an example, I would like to share with you our experience of the launch of the 'Citi Instant Personal Loan', a product that we introduced recently. With the help of advanced analytics, we identified a segment of our customers who could be offered a loan, tailored to their bespoke needs. Mobile and online were employed as the primary distribution and service delivery channels. The underwriting process was redesigned to make the entire experience simple and instantaneous. Customers, who opted for this product, via a few simple clicks, also received instant delivery, with the loan amount being credited into their bank account in a matter of minutes. This experience became so popular with our customers, that in just a few weeks, almost 20% of all loans were sourced through this mode. Given how well this service has been received by our customers, we will soon be extending this offering to the entire suite of consumer banking products.
As we progress on this path, please do feel free to let me know your own experiences and expectations in this area.
Every year, on March 8, the world celebrates International Women's Day. At Citi India, we too did just that. Last week, we celebrated International Women's Day by thanking and acknowledging all the women in our personal and professional lives for their contributions and the role that they play at home and at work, without which none of what we are able to achieve would ever be possible.
This year, in conjunction with International Women's Day, we also launched Citi India Diversity Week, in which we continued to promote diversity and multiplicity of thought across our organization. In a country such as India, which is rich in culture, heritage and ideology, we are privileged to experience the benefits of an inclusive and open society. The very fact that India is, for example, home to 122 major languages, more than 1500 dialects, a number of religions, and has over 90,000 publications, demonstrates diversity and freedom of not just thought, but of actions too.
Being a truly global bank, we too are significant beneficiaries of diversity. For over 200 years, strengthened by the multitude of people across countries with different backgrounds and cultures, we have been powered by new ideas and innovation, that helped us become pioneers in banking and contributors to the progress of our clients and society.
In this rapidly ever changing world, it is clear to us that continuing to promote diversity in our organization will be critical to our success and hence must be a strategic imperative. It is also becoming obvious that only truly diverse organizations will attract the best talent, which in turn will help them contribute meaningfully to customers, winning their minds and business.
Please join me in celebrating the spirit of womanhood and promoting the cause of diversity in our lives.
Over the last two years, amongst other things, I have written on two important subjects. The first being Citi’s efforts to contribute in the areas of financial education and inclusion with partnerships between Citi Foundation and NGOs through the India Innovation Grant Program (IIGP). The second is on our innovative efforts in banking. By leveraging young talent we have created best-in-class solutions for banking and the larger payments ecosystem.
Since its inception in 2014, IIGP has partnered with nine wonderful institutions that are expected to make a positive difference to approximately 800,000 lives through programs that focus on bringing meaningful financial behavioral changes. These programs are designed to inculcate the habit of saving and budgeting as well as encourage individuals to transact digitally. Innovation is at the heart of these inclusion initiatives, which are delivered through platforms such as mobile phones, tablets, smart classrooms and even buses. Moreover, several of these programs have been truly pioneering in their approach with the potential to transform society.
At Citi too, innovation is at the core of what we do. This entrepreneurial culture has led to the development of a number of industry firsts, primarily in the area of digitization. These solutions are simple and safe to use and have redefined the very concept of banking in India, and indeed globally.
So today, I am writing about an initiative which marries our community contributions and our commitment to the youth with innovation. I refer to third edition of IIGP launched recently. This year, IIGP aims to help expand skill-building, leadership and workplace programs for the youth through the use of technology and other innovative approaches. We believe bringing together innovation and the sheer determination of the youth will lead to a transformative India. Selected NGOs will receive grants to help them scale their model, and the guidance from a member of the Citi India management team, who will be their very own ‘Business Champion’, throughout the program.
IIGP, to Citi, is a business imperative in a country with so much potential. I do hope NGOs, who believe they have programs with innovative approaches to help economically empower the youth, take the time to read about the 2016 India Innovation Grant Program, supported by Citi Foundation, and consider us as their partners in progress.
The next few days will herald Diwali, the festival of lights, which spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness. For many across India, Diwali is also the time to indulge loved ones with special gifts, holidays or get-togethers. Sadly, for many others, this is not an option.
At Citi, as we started to think about how we would like to celebrate Diwali this year, we also wanted to find a way to bring a little light into the lives of those who are not as fortunate as we are. With this in mind, we decided to support the extraordinary work of two non-profits, St. Jude India ChildCare Centres and ADAPT, whose efforts touch the lives of economically disadvantaged children suffering from cancer and multiple disabilities respectively. St. Jude India ChildCare Centres provides free accommodation and holistic support to cancer-affected children who travel with their parents from rural and semi-urban areas to cities across India seeking cancer treatment. ADAPT was set up in 1972, as the Spastics Society of India, when very little was known about cerebral palsy.
This Diwali, we also wanted to give our customers the opportunity to participate with us in our efforts to support St. Jude India ChildCare Centres and ADAPT. With this objective in mind, we are launching an initiative through which Citi will commit to contribute a percentage of every rupee that our customers spend on their Citibank Credit Cards to these two noble causes. In effect, the more our customers spend, the more we will contribute to these organisations. For more details, please click here or access the unique twitter hashtag #WhatsNewThisDiwali.
I would like to take this opportunity to convey my very best wishes to all of you and your families a joyous and happy Diwali. I would also like to request all of you to participate in the joy of giving, which will help brighten the lives of those who are not as fortunate as we are.
At Citi, both innovation and talent have always been integral to the impact we are able to have on our clients, and consequently, to our success. Unsurprisingly, over the years, most of our innovation has come from our youngest minds.
Now in its second year, the Citi Campus Innovation Challenge is an initiative that I am personally very excited about. This initiative, targeted at students across India's top business schools, offers the opportunity for these students to submit to us their most exciting and innovative ideas, built around the specific theme of digital payments. This year, we received close to 150 submissions and have shortlisted 6 ideas across a range of themes including authentication by biometrics, cashless payments and financial inclusion.
These entries manifest an explosion of ingenuity and thought leadership amongst young India. These teams represent real entrepreneurial spirit and a penchant for innovation. As technology takes a firm hold of lifestyles and businesses alike, innovation is taking a new avatar through India's youth. As India becomes the home to the youngest population in the world, it is important that corporates and entrepreneurs alike help encourage this incredible spirit to help hone tomorrow’s leaders.
The selected students are mentored by us at Citi. They will also be given the opportunity to interview and work with us. It is extremely heartening to see such enthusiasm through this initiative and I look forward to meeting and engaging with these young finalists in Mumbai later this year to learn about what the brightest of minds believe in for tomorrow.
India has always been recognized as a country well-known for its entrepreneurs and their ability to be innovative to cater to the challenge of the ever changing and dynamic world that we live in. This spirit of enterprise has played a pivotal role in India's economic progress and continues to be a primary driver of future growth.
More recently, an exciting development has been the advent of the start up community and its contribution to new ideas and innovations across a multitude of sectors. The ability to make a meaningful contribution to society and to our economy by this young and dynamic diaspora, has also been recognized by our Honorable Prime Minister via his 'Stand up India, Start Up India' vision and pronouncement.
It is our strong belief that India's start up community can play an extraordinary role in shaping the future of banking technologies, both in India and globally. India’s large, organized technology base, backed by the spirit of free enterprise, today quite clearly has the potential to act as an important catalyst for the growth of the financial services industry.
To foster such innovation in financial technologies (‘Fintech’), Citi launched the Citi Mobile Challenge in the Asia Pacific Region last week. This global program is open to start ups, developers, tech companies and students to create real-world, open-ended solutions, capable of being run on Citi’s digital platform globally.
As we embark on this initiative, I am convinced that we will see some transformational solutions and proposals across banking, payments, e-commerce, etc., through this first-of-a-kind initiative introduced by a Bank. Registrations close on September 9, 2015 and I invite all of you to participate in this challenging, but exciting opportunity.
Slowly, but surely, India is making its way from being a nation of savers, to becoming a nation of spenders and borrowers. Economic liberalisation, the aspirations of our young and increasingly affluent population and the development of our financial markets, are each contributing to this evolution. Just as it has always been wise to save, it is equally prudent to borrow and utilise credit wisely and judiciously.
From loans on cards to personal loans and from car loans to education and home loans, there are a plethora of options available, as there are lenders. Until a decade ago, obtaining a loan had its own set of challenges; challenges related to the judgment and knowledge of bankers, that of onerous documentation and the time it took to get a loan. With the advent of consumer credit bureaus, like the Credit Information Bureau India Limited in 2004, lenders were able to rely on an independent and transparent credit infrastructure and borrowers were able to build reliable credit histories. This, in turn, encouraged both consumers and lenders alike.
As a borrower, it is however critical to understand the importance of one’s own credit history and credit standing. It is equally important to be aware that once this record is tarnished, it becomes very difficult to rebuild.
To begin with, borrowers must only incur indebtedness in amounts that can be realistically serviced and repaid from future cash flows. Discipline then becomes key in maintaining a good credit score, which in turn can help enhance your credit limit. Borrowers need to ensure the making of regular repayments and, if that is a problem, communicate proactively with the lender and understand how to ensure his or her credit score does not get affected or is built back appropriately. A good credit score in turn will help the borrower avail of more flexible and innovative credit options and products from a larger variety of lenders to meet their changing needs. Today, it is also fairly easy for borrowers to look up their credit scores online or through their bank. At Citibank, we offer an overview on credit bureaus on our site.
If you would like to assess your ability to borrow, or obtain our help in ascertaining your credit score, or increase your existing credit limit, please do feel free to contact us. However, please do always remember to borrow prudently and judiciously and to be a responsible borrower.
Thrift is a gift; a penny saved is a penny earned. Each of these are age old sayings that all of us have heard many times over, from those wiser than ourselves.
It is widely believed, that India is a country of savers. Savings rates in India have always been high, at times they have trended above 35%. However, in recent years it is true that savings rates are on the decline and our savings to GDP ratio has fallen to around 30%. Equally concerning, is the decline in our financial savings rate from 12% of GDP to around 7% currently.
One of the roles of a Bank in society is to inculcate and promote the philosophy of savings, to disseminate a better understanding of financial products that help achieve saving objectives, such as the power of compounding interest rates, and to offer a wide range of short and long term savings alternatives across the entire spectrum of risk.
At Citi, we work very hard at doing just that. From simple current and savings accounts, to long term fixed deposits, to Government, RBI, Public Sector and Corporate fixed income securities, to insurance products, to mutual funds of all types, to equities, to complex structured products, and more, we believe that we can work with all segments of society to meet your financial planning and savings needs.
I simply cannot but reiterate the importance of savings. Whether you choose to call it frugality, prudence, building a nest egg or saving for the proverbial rainy day, there can never be any doubt about the value and power of savings.
- November 29, Chennai: Rashid Khan, Prasad Khaparde , Ajay Joglekar, Murad Ali Khan & Shubhankar Banerjee
- December 7, Mumbai: Masters of Percussion’ - Zakir Hussain, V. Selvaganesh, Steve Smith, Deepak Bhat, Vijay Chavan, Niladri Kumar & Dilshad Khan
- January 10, Pune: Vikku Vinayakram, V. Selvaganesh, Swaminathan, V. Umamahesh & A. Ganesan
That was the fourth edition of the Citi NCPA Aadi Anant festival of Indian Music. Aadi Anant, which means - "from here to eternity" or "timeless"- was a music festival that we created in 2011, in partnership with the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), which is one of India's finest cultural organizations for the arts, music and dance. Our aspiration at the time was to establish a property that would indeed be very much like the music we want to promote - timeless and eternal. Now, over four years later and with 17 performances watched by close to 16,000 people across 5 cities in India under our belt, we think we are on our way to doing just that.
Why do we do this and why is this so important to us?
Over the years, Citi India has had a deep rooted philosophy of nurturing Indian arts, music and culture. We believe that the preservation of India’s cultural heritage is integral to our progress and is one more way for us to give back to society and to the communities we work with. Further, in a country as diverse as ours, music cuts across generations, regions and communities.
To take this a step forward, we have tried to take another timeless tradition, that of the Guru-Shishya parampara forward. In partnership with the NCPA, Citi initiated the 'Music for Schools' program to teach music to Mumbai-based children with limited access to musical resources. The effort of the teachers and students resulted in the first-ever on-stage live music performance by 50 children in December. Their confidence and impeccable sense of rhythm and tone was both, impressive and inspirational.
As we begin this year with a new sense of optimism, I am confident that through these partnerships and programs, we are contributing in our own unique way to India's cultural legacy, and are playing a part in re-imagining and revitalizing our community.
Some weeks ago, we were privileged to have Mr. Arun Jaitley, India's Honorable Finance Minister at our infrastructure summit in New Delhi. Unsurprisingly, it was a standing room only event, with investors from around the world representing mutual funds, insurance companies, endowments, private equity funds and family offices.
The message from the Minister was striking, yet simple. Notwithstanding the challenges that India faces, the Government is committed to an agenda of reform and growth. The Minister summarized key decisions that had already been made by his Government including elimination of fuel price subsidies, allowing FDI in railway infrastructure, increasing of FDI limits in defence, changes in labor laws, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana scheme, etc. He then laid out a road map which he expected his Government to follow in terms of further reforms. In the days that have since ensued, some of these have already come to fruition. These include ordinances for land acquisition and for increased FDI in insurance, along with the introduction of bills for GST and coal mining.
Following the Narendra Modi Government coming to power in May 2014, there has been a tremendous sense of optimism that has been felt in India and across the world. The Government has in many ways, vindicated this mood. It has been extraordinarily active and has made significant progress on a number of fronts in a relatively short period of time. Innumerable challenges undoubtedly exist. However, as we start the new year, I continue to feel a strong sense of optimism and hope. And it would appear, that our stock markets agree.
My very best wishes to all of you and your families for 2015. I hope you share my sense of optimism. Now, let us all work together to convert this optimism into progress and a much better future for India.
It has been a year since I started writing these blogs and I have genuinely enjoyed doing so. Thank you for reading them and I look forward to connecting with you through 2015.
Tectonic shifts are taking place across India's digital landscape. These changes and trends are being driven by rapid urbanization, large investments in telecom and e-commerce infrastructure, deeper internet penetration, and the proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices. While we have already witnessed significant changes in the banking industry, these put together, will have extraordinary implications for us going forward. For us in India, the notion of riding this digital wave is a source of great excitement.
Citi is determined not to miss this opportunity or the significant benefits that will accrue to our clients and to ourselves. In fact, this exciting, yet unchartered journey is already underway. Despite having just 42 branches in 30 locations in India, we acquire over 30 percent of clients online across assets and liabilities. Of our clients, more than 90 percent have their mobile numbers and 80 percent have their email IDs updated with the bank and consequently, more than 60 percent of our clients access their accounts digitally. Finally, 75% have opted for online statements, endorsing the mantra – go digital, go green.
As we go forward, it is our aspiration as a bank to be "omnipresent" for all our clients. This means that we, as a bank, must have an accessible digital channel in place for every conceivable need of our clients. Our clients should be able to engage with us digitally for transaction-based services, such as money transfers to credit card payments, from utilizing financial planning tools online to booking a personal loan or a mutual fund. Our first-to-market propositions such as SMS to call, click to call, harnessing social media through the power of crowd sourcing to identify ATM locations, instant card issuance, mobile payment solutions, salaried online accounts, and deep-discount online sales are all possible, thanks to technology and the evolving digital channels.
Similarly, we would like our branches to become places where clients can come and complete many of their banking transactions without human intervention. For example, our smart banking branches provide customers with the opportunity to experience the best of futuristic banking through an array of innovative features and services. However, our clients can always meet with our bankers and seek specialized guidance when it comes to areas such as risk management or advisory services.
If we are able to successfully evolve to such a model, and continue to adopt these digital channels and practices satisfactorily, the gains all around will be very significant. These would include improved customer satisfaction and better service levels for our clients, and higher growth and productivity for us as a bank.
The average age of our Citi India family is 32 years. As a consequence, I naturally spend a lot of my time with bright, talented people much younger than myself. In the recent past, I have had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with three groups of such promising young people. 76 members of the 2014 Citi India Management Associate Program, finalists of the ET Young Leader Awards program and winners of the Citi Woman Leader Awards. Interactions such as these, are undeniably the most enjoyable part of my work.
These young men and women represent India and the world's finest educational institutions. To me, they also exemplify several other qualities such as talent, energy, aspiration, excellence, focus, drive, hunger, eagerness, quest for learning, etc; arguably amongst the many requirements of leadership and success. Accordingly, they have the potential to become future leaders and managers at Citi. Which is why Citi is committed to investing in their future, and to providing them with a platform to continuously learn and grow in.
Citi has been exactly that for many, many very fortunate individuals just like myself. Ever since I walked through the doors of Citi twenty seven years ago, it has been a tremendous and extraordinary learning experience. I am very confident that this will continue in the years to come for all our young talent. To draw a parallel with life itself - those individuals who are perennially willing and interested in learning, will always distinguish themselves from those who believe that learning and education is only a finite phase in life.
In about two weeks, Citi employees in India, and the world over, will be celebrating our Global Community Day for the ninth year. Last year we had over 66,000 volunteers in 473 cities and 95 countries who volunteered for 325,000 hours. This is a very important annual day of service for us, when we come together as an institution to demonstrate our commitment to the communities we live and operate in. And for this year in India, we will be volunteering with organizations to improve public spaces and community centers across the country. Come Saturday, June 7, my family and I will be joining my colleagues to help refurbish a complex in Mumbai that houses more than 10 NGOs.
Global Community Day is one of a number of initiatives for us at Citi in the community space. I’d like to invite you to take a look through our India Corporate Citizenship Report here , which describes some of our activities and partners we work with in the country. Whether it’s through our Global Community Day each year, or through ongoing programs in education, economic empowerment and skills development, or the preservation of India’s art and cultural heritage, or ensuring that we are environmentally responsible in the way we do business, we hope that we have been, and will certainly strive to continue to be, active contributors to this country we are proud to call home.
At Citi, we are very proud and privileged to have a wonderful collection of Indian contemporary art that we have been fortunate to have collected over the years. Each one of these works has been carefully displayed and some restored, and is our own very small way of nurturing and preserving India's rich cultural heritage. Today, this 350 piece collection is very proudly displayed in our new headquarters in Mumbai. This collection comprises works from a cross section of India's most famous and renowned artists including V S Gaitonde, M F Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabavala, Manjit Bawa, Francis Newton Souza and many, many others.
Art represents the values, attitudes and rich cultural fabric of a nation. Art is timeless and transcends different ages, generations, cultures, tastes and perspectives. In addition to significantly enhancing the physical attractiveness of our workplace, the Citi India Art Collection is also a constant reminder to all of us of India's rich cultural legacy. In addition to enjoying these masterpieces daily myself, I have been particularly pleased and gratified with the tremendous interest that the Collection has piqued in so many of our young employees, who now have the opportunity to experience and enjoy it every day. In order for many more people to share our enjoyment and pride, we have recently created an online gallery with some of these works. I do hope that you enjoy the collection as much as we do.
International Women's Day (IWD) - March 8 - is around the corner. In India, as with all the other markets that Citi operates in, we're taking the opportunity to celebrate and recognize all the women who work with us.
We kick off the IWD activities here this week by honoring six young, future women leaders from India's top academic institutions. This will be followed by events next week across the country that promote and foster networking, mentoring, work life balance, education, etc. Equally important, we would like to thank all the women in our personal lives, who make it possible for so many of us to continue to work at Citi.
Over the years, we have benefited in countless ways from the diversity of our workforce, and we are extremely conscious of the value that cultivating diverse talent adds to our organization.
The annual IWD events are in conjunction with a host of ongoing initiatives that we currently have underway. While India's banking industry has quite a number of female CEOs – and it must hold the world record for that, across the board and industries, we could do with more women in the India workforce. Gender diversity is a critical imperative for any organization. Please do share your thoughts on this with me, as we approach IWD.
In the recent past, I have been both amazed and pleasantly surprised at the pace with which our customers are adopting and embracing digital channels for their banking needs. Today, more than 80% of our retail customers get their financial transactions done online. This includes getting e-Statements, settling all kinds of bills, taking a Mortgage or a Personal Loan, making a Mutual Fund Investment and of course, shopping on one of the many exciting e-commerce platforms that exist. Here is an interesting statistic – at our recent online mega discount sale,, we reached 14.5 million users on Facebook.
Digitization in the banking industry clearly has transformational implications. Convenience, volumes, costs, reach and many others. It is however important to understand that opportunities emanating from this trend and from the use and adaptation of technology in the future are immense. Think only about financial inclusion. In a country where banking penetration remains low, where only 40% of adults have access to banking services, there can be no question that digitization will play a huge role in bringing more and more people into the formal banking network. And at a pace that is more rapid, in a way that is more effective.
Banking has evolved at an extraordinary pace since I joined Citi more than two decades ago. Technology undoubtedly has been an enormous driver in changing the way that banks do business and serve their customers.
Today, we have easy access to multiple channels including the Internet, mobile phones, ATMs and virtual and social media; all of which allows us not only to bank 'on the go' but also to purchase all kinds of goods and services electronically. It is what we call the advent of digitization in banking.
Technology has also transformed the ubiquitous bank branch to make it much more efficient. I am especially excited about our new branch at the Palladium Mall in Mumbai. Only 900 square feet in size, it has everything and more than what a traditional full service branch has to offer. These include interactive capabilities such as iPads, touch screens and video connect. And guess what, you can even get a credit card issued there in under two hours.
Technology unarguably has the ability to make day to day banking faster, simpler and more cost effective and fun. It means that day to day banking, which is often perceived to be a chore, need no longer be so. It also means that our customers can focus more of their time on the important elements such as saving, investing, financial planning, risk management and financial protection with our specialists.
Face to face that is interfaced with technology. I think this is the future of banking.