Our continuing CDX Digital Roundtable series recently welcomed innovation and emerging product executives from the banking giant Citi and the new regional bank Truist (formed by the merger of SunTrust and BB&T).

Expanding Digital Banking Services

Allyson Laurance, Head of Partnerships, Business Development and North America Innovation for Citi’s Trade & Treasury Solutions division, noted that “the innovation team is busier than before.” The bank has launched digital banking platforms in six countries as Covid-19 spread across the globe, she said. These efforts enabled clients to open over 1,000 (and counting) new corporate accounts during the lockdown. Citi plans to expand its digital offering from thirty-seven to fifty countries by the end of 2020. “The client portals were simmering for a bit” noted Laurance “and now they’re going full steam ahead.”

As for Citi’s innovation management efforts, “we’ll tie in more closely full circle with our sales teams.” Laurance noted that Citi’s open innovation efforts have been impacted but not diminished in this period. Prior to Covid-19, Laurance and her team typically engaged their ecosystem in person. But with communication now entirely by phone and via digital platforms, the innovation process has actually become more efficient, she said: “it’s much more coordinated around strategic business priorities.”

An Opportunity To Reset

Joining Laurance was Nathan Meyer, Head of Next Generation Product & Innovation at Truist. Meyer oversees the bank’s open innovation efforts and is developing its corporate innovation strategy. The merger, combined with the health crisis, has created a doubly unique situation, he said. The newly-combined enterprise is launching a new brand in existing markets even as it seeks to expand both geographically and demographically in new markets. While recognizing the challenges, Meyer noted that it gives the bank a chance “to modernize from the ground up.”

He said this unique reset allows the innovation and technology teams to “focus on reconfiguring our architecture and infrastructure and put things in place that allow us to accelerate [the] digital experience.” He also said that successful innovation efforts moving forward will require the enterprise to focus on “human capital, academic relationships, and (finding) the next generation of talent.”

Both said their banks have no choice but to accelerate digital transformation efforts. And they both made it clear the digital experience for customers must be the top priority. As Meyer asked, “how do you make sure that that connection is…meaningful to the clients in a digital-first landscape?”