Citi is going the Chase Pay route with mobile payments, introducing its own standalone digital wallet app, Citi Pay.
Citi Pay will be available to customers for online and in-app purchases, thanks to a partnership with MasterCard and its Masterpass service.
Android device users also will have the ability to make in-store purchases via NFC at contactless point-of-sale terminals. Citi Pay is not available as an iOS app, however.
The Citi Pay in-store payment feature will roll out later this year to customers in Australia, Singapore and Mexico. The bank will launch Citi Pay in the U.S. in early 2017 with online, in-app and proximity mobile payments, according to a press release.
Citi expects to add more markets at a later time.
"Whether it is online, on a phone, or at a store, we want Citi customers to have seamless, convenient and fast payment options wherever they go," Barry Rodrigues, head of global digital payments at Citi, said in a statement. "With more than 100 million customers in the fastest-growing cities in 19 countries, Citi is uniquely positioned to accelerate payment innovation on a global scale. With Citi Pay, we are offering our customers flexibility wherever and whenever they choose to make purchases."
To make purchases through the new Citi Pay wallet, Citi customers use the same ID and password they're already using to access PC-based online banking. This capability is facilitated by Masterpass integration, which also will allow accountholders to use Citi Pay at hundreds of thousands of merchants across 33 countries at launch.
Citi’s decision to launch a standalone app will continue to spark debate about what works best for banks; a separate app that sits alongside the mobile banking app, or an NFC-based mobile payments feature within a mobile banking app.
Most industry observers Mobile Payments Today has spoken with in the past have said that an enhanced mobile banking app makes more sense.
"In the short term, maybe they sit side by side and maybe there's going to be a little bit of redundancy," Daniel Van Dyke, a mobile research specialist at Javelin Strategy & Research, told Mobile Payments Today earlier this year. "But long-term, I think the trajectory is an integrated mobile app where purchases at the point of sale are just one function of many within a mobile banking app."
Earlier this year MasterCard made it easier for banks to add a payments component to their Android mobile banking app when the network rolled out support via Masterpass of NFC-enabled mobile payments on compatible Android devices.
At the time, MasterCard said this new capability was intended to give banks a say with their own mobile payment product.
"We have a very conscious strategy that banks should be into Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay because we think certain customer segments have a natural affinity for those digital brands and we want our cards to be used there," James Anderson, group executive for platforms in MasterCard's emerging payments division, told Mobile Payments Today at the time of the Masterpass announcement. "We also think the banks need their own digital offerings. We think the banks have the assets to differentiate their offerings and, frankly, we think they have an imperative to have their own offerings because they need to maintain relevance with their cardholders."
/ Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago.