20 June, 2018
Startups needed for corporate finance, says Citi exec

Bank looks for tech partners to help corporate clients in LatAm reconcile statements

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By Katie Llanos-Small

 

Citigroup wants to partner with tech startups that can help companies automate their back office financial processes.

In particular, it is looking for services to reconcile transactions – effectively, matching products sold with the corresponding bank details. But there are also huge opportunities for new entrants to improve the user experience across corporate accounting, said Driss Temsamani, head of digital channels and enterprise banking in Citi’s Latin American transaction services division.

“We’re forming those relationships market by market,” he told iupana. “We’re looking at the right fit, the right profile. We’re definitely looking there for partnerships. And of course, much further in the value chain: statements, billing, reconciliation. A lot of space is there for some of the fintechs to come in and play.”

Digital products for corporate finance need to be developed on a country by country basis because of the variations between national clearing systems and payments gateways.

“It’s not a consolidated architecture,” he said. “You have to work market by market. So you can’t go to one player, one fintech, and say let’s do this on a pan-regional basis.”

Already the bank is making moves in this direction in North America. Citi, through its CitiVentures division, bought a stake in Texas-based corporate finance platform HighRadius in February.

All-digital goal

Just over half of Citi’s corporate clients in Latin America connect their systems directly to the bank. Most do that through their enterprise resource planning platforms (ERP) such as Oracle or SAP. The bank aims to have all its corporate clients connecting digitally within three years, allowing for real time settlement, clearing and reconciliation, instead of batch-processing.

“56% of what we do is under that model,” said Temsamani. “The rest, we’ve got to bring to that model.”

Already, Citi has five clients in the region that connect through the bank’s new suite of APIs. The CitiConnect API portal radically simplifies the integration time for corporate clients to connect to the bank’s systems, and offers options for checking balances and statements and making payments.

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