Citi gets online banking approval in China

Citibank becomes the first foreign bank to be allowed to offer corporate as well as consumer internet banking.

Citibank has announced that it has approval from the People's Bank of China to offer internet banking services in China to domestic and international companies, as well as consumers. It claims it is the first foreign bank in China to offer internet-based banking services to both groups.

HSBC, Bank of East Asia and Hang Seng Bank each won approval earlier this year to offer internet banking services to Chinese consumers.

As well as offering its CitiDirect corporate banking service for cash management, the bank has developed an internet-based payments system specifically for the country. The system enables corporate clients in China to make local currency (renminbi) payment transactions to beneficiaries in over 7000 locations. The system, called Citibank Easy Payments, also delivers various payment and collections reports for clients to view or download into their computers.

"We have the technology infrastructure in place and an established client base, which gives us the ability to quickly roll out our internet-based products in China," says Richard Stanley, country corporate officer for Citibank in China.

"Our internet solutions provide clients with more channels to communicate with us and allows them to benefit from greater control and cost efficiency, which are top of mind for treasurers today," adds Ivo Distelbrink, head of Cash, Trade and Treasury Services for Citibank in China.

The bank currently operates four branches in mainland China - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, a sub-branch in Shanghai Puxi, and two representative offices in Xiamen and Chengdu.