Citi CEO Fraser: ‘We’re Building the Infrastructure for Retail, Real-time Payments’

Despite Fraser’s certainty that digital assets will be part of the future of financial services, Citigroup is proceeding with caution in the space due to regulatory uncertainty.

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Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser; Source: Citigroup

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key takeaways

  • Citi is working to connect clients to wallets and enabling corporate clients to accept consumer payments, Fraser said
  • The global bank sees benefits from the digital asset space around processing, fractionalization, programmability and transparency, she said.

Digital assets will be part of the future of financial services and financial markets, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser told Yahoo Finance Monday morning.

During a larger conversation about Citigroup employees returning to the office, she shared her views on decentralization, digital assets, cryptocurrencies and more.

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“It’s clear that digital assets will get part of the financial services, and financial markets,” Fraser said. “Real-time payments are both, both in the sense of their frictionless, they’ll become more global. They’ll become ubiquitous. [They] will be here in the near term, and digital currencies may be part of that future”

Two years after the global bank abandoned its CitiCoin crypto experiment, Citi announced that it was considering offering client cryptocurrency services such as trading, custody and financing.

Now the bank is proceeding thoughtfully and with appropriate caution, said Frasier. “There’s still a lot of questions about how the space evolves around regulatory clarity around some of the scalability around resiliency, certainly around some transparency, and making sure that there are the appropriate guardrails in the system, particularly for our retail clients we don’t want them participating in areas that know they’re not necessarily as well equipped to understand the risks of.”

In late August the bank was looking into trading bitcoin futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) in an effort to provide institutional clients with exposure to digital assets. Then, Citi’s move into bitcoin futures trading followed other major banks announcing digital asset strategies, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. 

Today Citi is working to connect clients to wallets, and enabling businesses and corporate clients to accept consumer payments — but proceeding with caution, according to Fraser. 

“We’re building the infrastructure for retail, real-time payments, we’re doing so cautiously because space is moving so quickly, and not all the guardrails that you would like to see are yet in place,” she said. “As a banking CEO, I do believe guardrails are important and necessary with a safe, safety and soundness of the financial system.”

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