In an economy rapidly shedding its borders, financial technology provides the ways and the means for global commerce to flourish. But long-term success also calls for expertise in the specific workings of banking, finance and taxation regulations operating across and between political boundaries.
That's one way that Citigroup's size works to its advantage. With over 40,000 corporate customers in 101 countries, the $953 billion financial services behemoth has an impressive presence in local markets. "We are embedded in the local countries doing business with local corporate names," said Jorge Bermudez, executive vice president and head of Citibank e-Business, based in Stamford, Conn.
The bank has integrated itself in several emerging markets through acquisition. Most recently, Citigroup paid $12.5 billion for Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival, based in Mexico City. The combination delivers an active consumer business along with new potential customers for Citigroup's investment bank and its commercial lending division.
"There's an incredible amount of activity taking place between the two countries Mexico and the U.S.," said Bermudez. "The ability to service our customers now with a broad branch network-which Banamex has throughout Mexico-and then having the reach that we have as Citigroup with the global, Fortune 1000 corporations, allows us to really begin to capture that activity."
Furthermore, Citibank offers its expanded client base technology solutions for trade, cash management and transaction services. "Companies are all looking for the ability to become more efficient in the way that they operate," said Bermudez. "They all want more information, real-time."
But cross-border deals require more than just real-time information-they also require access to the appropriate people and networks. "When you're dealing with a marketplace on the Internet, you don't know where the buyer or the seller is going to be," said Bermudez. "With us you're in a closed loop, you're able to have control over the whole process."