Citi Celebrates 50 Years of Progress in Ireland
By Emma Hynes, Citi Public Affairs Officer, Ireland September 03, 2015 11:30 AM
In June of this year, Citi celebrated a milestone 50 years in Ireland. Since opening our doors in 1965, we have gone through a remarkable phase of growth while remaining true to Citi’s core aim of being an American bank serving the best global clients in key locations around the world. When the First National City Bank opened its doors in Dublin in 1965, the economic landscape was challenging. Citi rose to that challenge and has grown from strength-to-strength, from being the first international bank to be awarded a licence to operate in the newly-established International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in the early 1990s, to supporting a business of over 2,500 employees of 40 different nationalities today.
In 1965, when Citi opened for business in Ireland, we focused on providing international banking services and products for the U.S. corporate client base and a small number of large Irish corporations. Today, we offer a full suite of banking services, including cash management, rate risk management (FX and interest rates), funding, investor products, corporate finance, trade services and custody trustee services, to name but a few.
In the 1990s, with the creation of the IFSC, Citi was given the opportunity to think about a larger target market – the world. Shortly after the IFSC opened for business, Citi decided to centralise its Western European back office operations out of the individual countries in Europe. Ireland was the ideal location for this centralisation and was chosen for many reasons, including the flexibility and strength of the workforce, the pro-business environment and the time zone.
In 1995, a regional processing centre was opened to provide operational support for customer service, cash management and funds administration. In 2007, the Dublin Service Centre was established, one of four in the EMEA region. A core element of the Service Centre model is delivering and implementing best practices within site governance, risk and controls, culture, communication, talent and community investment, while concentrating like-functions in like-locations. The Dublin Service Centre covers all elements of Operations and Technology.
The next phase of growth for Citi Ireland came in 2001 when Citibank Ireland Financial Services plc was granted a banking license by the Central Bank of Ireland. Now, it is an EU bank carrying a fully unrestricted EU banking license and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. The bank was renamed Citibank Europe plc (CEP) to reflect the wider European role of the bank. Citibank Europe plc has ‘passported’ its services on a non-branch basis throughout the EU. In 2003, Worldlink, Citi’s multicurrency payments product which enables our clients to issue payments in more than 135 currencies to more than 150 countries, was relocated to Ireland. The success of the Worldlink relocation to Ireland led a number of our transaction services products all moving to Ireland in the following years.
With these successful Citi products finding a new home in Ireland, it became clear that Citi Ireland had to look ahead and determine how we could remain at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. When looking to multinationals in other sectors we saw that they were focusing on Research & Development (R&D) and we decided to build an R&D centre in Dublin.
At the time, creating an R&D centre was a new concept, not just for Citi, but for financial services as a whole. The aim was to conduct R&D on new products and services through client, academic and industry collaboration. Launched in 2009, the Citi Innovation Lab has developed a web-based electronic banking platform, created an analytics tool for customers, developed multiple mobile payment solutions and collaborated with local governments on sustainable urban development. You might know some of these services as BE Mobile or BE Tablet – great examples of applications that were incubated in the Lab, following the Citi innovation process and, once validated, transitioned to our technology partners for maintenance and scaling.
There is a huge opportunity for early innovators and emerging startups in Ireland to create technology that will help us map the future of digital banking. Today, financial technology (Fintech) is redefining Financial Services and we are determined to be at the forefront of this evolution. As such, we have partnered with university programmes such as Trinity College Dublin’s LaunchBox Accelerator Programme, of which we sponsor two startups; as well as upStart, an entrepreneurship programme encouraging students to create their own startups: and Stemettes, an organisation set up to inspire the next generation of women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
We also recently opened our own Citi Accelerator Hub, a space in Citi’s Dublin office that gives Fintech startups access to office space, high speed WiFi, video conferencing and meeting facilities. The Hub will also give startups access to Citi mentors who will guide and support them through challenges they may face, as well as host regular meet ups with industry groups.
In keeping with Citi Ireland’s technology focus and to celebrate 50 years in Ireland, EMEA CEO Jim Cowles announced, on behalf of Citi Ireland, a multi-year community partnership with St. Andrew’s Resource Centre in Dublin to help the Centre refurbish its IT lab and offer a wide range of IT courses to the local community.
Citi Ireland has grown from strength-to-strength over the last fifty years. We have consistently led the way in corporate and investment banking in Ireland and today, our Irish clients bank with us in more than 70 countries worldwide. We look forward to continuing this momentum in providing financial services that enable economic progress and growth over the next fifty years.