Carrying a Banamex-branded credit card could be considered cool in the Mexican capital. Here, Banamex card holders can cut in line for concert tickets and are even offered the opportunity to purchase seats for shows by performers like U2 and Madonna two days in advance of anyone else.
"We try to lead the entertainment dimension," Citi's CEO of global consumer banking and executive chairman of Latin America and Mexico, Manuel Medina-Mora, tells Latin Trade. "It is access- access to something special, to privileges, and that is the way you position your credit card business."
This approach is an example of the innovation in consumer banking that Medina-Mora has overseen in his native Mexico for years. This third-generation banker originally led Banamex, which was purchased by Citi in 2001, growing the venerable Mexican bank by concentrating on customer service and relationships.
It's also an approach he is attempting to extend throughout Citi, which has operations in more than 100 countries, and is coming back to a core philosophy: "Banking is not about transactions, it's about relationships," he says. "In Banamex we have always had a philosophy ... that banking has to be about relationships with our clients, that banking is client-centered."
Many banks had abandoned this attitude until the financial crisis forced them to rediscover old ways of doing business.
Medina-Mora cites two other trends in banking: digitalization and globalization, which he says Citi is also embracing. Banamex, for example, launched a digital transfer platform with cellular giant Telcel and Inbursa (both owned by Carlos Slim) to allow anyone with a mobile phone to access banking services. "It is probably much clearer in the consumer dimension," Medina-Mora says of digitalization. "But even in the corporate electronic banking, online banking has changed the way we do things ... in trading, in capital markets, in the way transactions are executed, in cash management, trade finance and supply-chain finance."
Globalization also has brought about change in the banking sector--a trend Medina-Mora anticipates...