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Citi is going the Chase Pay route with mobile payments and has introduced a standalone digital wallet app called Citi Pay.
Citi will make Citi Pay available to all of its customers for online and in-app purchases, thanks to a partnership with MasterCard and the network’s Masterpass service. Customers with an Android device will have the ability to make in-store purchases via NFC at contactless point-of-sale terminals.
Citi Pay is not available as an iOS app.
Citi later this year will roll out the Citi Pay in-store payment feature to customers in Australia, Singapore and Mexico. The bank will launch Citi Pay in the U.S. in early 2017 with online, in-app and proximity mobile payments, according to a press release.
Citi expects to add more markets at a later time.
"Whether it is online, on a phone, or at a store, we want Citi customers to have seamless, convenient and fast payment options wherever they go," Barry Rodrigues, head of global digital payments at Citi, said in a statement. "With more than 100 million customers in the fastest-growing cities in 19 countries, Citi is uniquely positioned to accelerate payment innovation on a global scale. With Citi Pay, we are offering our customers flexibility wherever and whenever they choose to make purchases."
For online and in-app purchases, Citi customers can use the same Citibank online user ID and password that they currently use to manage their existing online relationship with Citi. That capability is possible thanks to Citi's Masterpass integration that will enable Citi customers to use Citi Pay at hundreds of thousands of merchants across 33 countries at launch.
Citi’s decision to launch a standalone app will continue to spark debate about what works best for banks — a separate app that sits alongside the mobile banking app, or an NFC-based mobile payments feature within a mobile banking app.
Most industry observers who Mobile Payments Today has interviewed in the past believe an enhanced mobile banking app makes more sense.
"In the short term, maybe they sit side-by-side and maybe there's going to be a little bit of redundancy," Daniel Van Dyke, a mobile research specialist at Javelin Strategy & Research, told Mobile Payments Today earlier this year. "But long-term, I think the trajectory is an integrated mobile app where purchases at the point of sale are just one function of many within a mobile banking app."
MasterCard earlier this year made it easier for banks to add a payments component to their Android mobile banking app when it announced support of NFC-enabled mobile payments on compatible Android devices through Masterpass.
At the time, MasterCard said that Masterpass' new capability was intended to give banks a say with their own mobile payment product.
"We have a very conscious strategy that banks should be into Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay because we think certain customer segments have a natural affinity for those digital brands and we want our cards to be used there," James Anderson, group executive for platforms in MasterCard's emerging payments division, told Mobile Payments Today at the time of the announcement. "We also think the banks need their own digital offerings. We think the banks have the assets to differentiate their offerings and frankly, we think they have an imperative to have their own offerings because they need to maintain relevance with their cardholders."