Citi Launches Customer Communities

Citi launched a digital platform, named Canvas, that the bank says "enables customers to co-create products and digital capabilities that promote their financial wellness." According to its press release:

"Canvas Designed by Citi enables customers to shape the creation process and easily share feedback. Through this new beta-testing community, customers simply register to access and test solutions. Initial tests will focus on helping customers classify and visualize their spending versus their income and offering advice to help them reach their financial goals."

sowhat logoIf there's anything the past 10 years of banking should have taught bankers, it's these two things: 1) While consumers might need budgeting and expense categorization, they don't want budgeting and expense categorization, and 2) PFM tools, in and of themselves, don't drive financial wellness--that requires behavioral changes on the part of individuals.

Forget Citi's meaningless platitude to "help our customers reach their financial goals by delivering a holistic view of their financial lives right in the palm of their hand."

What's noteworthy here is the creation of a platform to engage customers in the design and roll-out of new products and features. Few financial institutions--especially those below the megabank and super large regional level--do a good job of soliciting feedback on new features and products before deployment.

That's understandable, in a way--they rely on their vendors to do that for them. But the beauty of Citi's announcement goes beyond the benefits of new product testing--it's a customer engagement strategy.

The simple act of signing up to participate in the community is a signal of an "engaged" consumer--whether it's someone engaged with the bank, or engaged with the management of his/her financial life. It almost doesn't matter what they think of the products and services being tested--they're raising their hands, and signaling that they're different from the rest of the pack by simply signing up to participate.

Ron Shevlin
Director of Research
Cornerstone Advisors