Citi hitches a ride with Grab

Citi hitches a ride with Grab

Citibank has struck a deal with Asian ride-hailing firm Grab to launch a co-branded credit card in the Philippines.

The move follows Citi's alliance with India's Paytm last month and Goldman Sachs' recent dalliance with Apple, as banks vie to ride on the coat-tails of fast growth firms expanding into financial services.

“Today we have about 16 million customers in Asia, and our aspiration is to increase this by about two million in the next few years through partnerships alone,” Gonzalo Luchetti, Citi’s head of consumer banking for Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Reuters.

The co-branded cards follow on from a 2016 deal between Citi and Grab which allowed customers to pay for rides using their points from Citi credit cards. Citi also invested in the ride-hailing firm back in November 2018 through its venture capital arm Citi Ventures.

The first batch of co-branded cards will be issued in the Philippines today, followed by a roll-out to Thailand later this year.

“Thirty years ago, if you wanted to be relevant to clients, you needed to have as many branches as you could," Luchetti told Reuters. "Today ... people spend hours every day in these virtual cities, and the equivalent of having a branch in every corner is being able to provide your services within these digital ecosystems.”

Grab has been aggressively expanding into financial services and has appointed advisors to sound out potential minority investors in a spin-off of the business as a stand-alone unit.

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