Citi expands branch network in China, opens in Chongqing

The new branch, Citi's ninth in China, is decked out with Wi-Fi, internet kiosks and video phones for customers to use.

Citi China announced yesterday that it has officially opened its Chongqing branch, its ninth in China. The branch offers banking and wealth management services to both corporate and individual customers in and around Chongqing.

The consumer outlet in Chongqing has been designed to cater to the changing needs and lifestyles of the mainland's bank customers. Key attributes include the fact that the outlet is fully Wi-Fi enabled, allowing customers to go online while inside the branch using their mobile devices (laptops, cell phones, PDAs etcetera); complimentary internet kiosks available for customers to use and a number of interactive touch screens that enable customers to easily view Citi's latest product and service offerings.

The branch also has live interactive video phones to allow customers seeking an additional opinion in relation to a particular financial need to consult with Citibank China specialists at another location. And there are what the firm calls "soft phones" available -- wireless phones for all staff and complimentary use of mobile phones for the customers.

"Citi is proud to be extending our network to Chongqing with a world-class branch. Looking ahead to 2010, Citi will continue to build out our business in China across a wide array of areas as we play an active role in the ongoing growth and development of China's financial services sector," said Andrew Au, chairman of Citibank (China) in a press release.

The Chongqing branch offers renminbi and foreign currency products and services to multinational and local companies, Chinese residents and foreign nationals. Corporate banking services include cash management, trade finance and services, loans and syndication, FX transactions, project finance, structured finance and other financial products.

According to Citi China, this is the first bank in Chongqing to offer third-generation mobile-payment services via its renminbi debit card. In practice, this will allow cardholders to use their mobile phones to conduct transactions connected with their debit cards, including checking the card's balance, paying for products and making mobile phone top-ups.

Like all other Citibank retail outlets in China, the new branch offers both Citibank and Citigold services. Customers using the Citibank service, which requires a minimum balance of Rmb80,000 ($11,700), will be able to choose between a range of services to manage their wealth.

The Chongqing branch is located in the city's Yu Zhong District and houses 13 corporate bankers and 36 retail banking professionals.

"Our team in Chongqing is committed to delivering the very best in banking and wealth management services to local companies and retail customers as Chongqing continues to rise as a key centre of commerce and industry in China," said Mao Feng, Chongqing branch manager.

Citi earned kudos for not cashing out of its investments in Chinese banks earlier this year when other capital-constrained Western banks did. Citi has also launched rural lending services and debit cards and expanded its mobile phone banking services in the mainland this year. On the investment banking side, it has arranged IPOs for Sands China, Longfor and Metallurgical Corporation of China and its advisory CV includes its first piece of work for China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation. The bank has also snared a new co-head of investment banking for China, Rodney Tsang.

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