Magazine article American Banker

Citibank Hoping to Get on the Fast Track in Germany

Magazine article American Banker

Citibank Hoping to Get on the Fast Track in Germany

Article excerpt

Roberta J. Arena, who became Citicorp's credit card chief in January, is well on her way to fulfilling one of her goals for the world's largest bank card business.

Ms. Arena, executive vice president of Citibank's North American and European card businesses, told a group of analysts and journalists in July that she planned to step up the bank's European marketing efforts and to push for a dominant credit card market position in Germany, where the bank is just die fourth-largest provider of cards.

Through a cobranding deal with the Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railways, Citibank is determined to convince reticent German consumers that they need credit cards.

Only 20% of German households own a credit card, as cash and debit cards are more popular.

Ms. Arena's interest in Germany's card market stems from the fact that the bank's 300 offices there constitute its largest branch network outside of the United States.

Citibank's alliance with the Deutsche Bahn is a real coup, say industry experts, because it has the potential to catapult Citibank to die No. I position in Germany.

Currently, Citibank has 300,000 card accounts there, which is 200,000 less than the leading issuer, Berliner Bank. Deutsche Bank and Banco San-tander are neck to neck with about 450,000 accounts each, according to The Nilson Report, a newsletter published out of Oxnard, Calif.

The Deutsche Bahn offers an annual card that entitles customers to rail tickets at a 50% discount, and three million consumers have one.

Citibank's consumer banking operation, Citibank PrivatKunden AG, plans to convert all of those cards into one of three types of Citibank cards. …

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