Citi Pay Hits the United States

July 11, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

In something of a twist, Citi’s mobile payment option Citi Pay didn’t start life in the United States. Rather, it got its start in Singapore, Mexico and Australia before heading out, and now it’s made its way to the US for those with Citi Mastercard credit.

In a further twist, Citi Pay isn’t available for iOS at all; it’s actually an Android-only system, which makes sense given its origins. The good news, however, is that it works with all payment terminals that use near-field communications (NFC) to connect, which opens up its opportunity for use as an in-store payment function.

It’s also usable as an online or in-app payment system, just by using a Citibank authentication system of user ID and password. That’s made possible by a Masterpass integration, and should make it easy for customers to make purchases using the exact same passwords they’re currently using.

Citi’s head of global digital payments, Barry Rodrigues, commented “Whether it is online, on a phone, or at a store, we want Citi customers to have seamless, convenient and fast payment options wherever they go. With more than 100 million customers in the fastest-growing cities in 19 countries, Citi is uniquely positioned to accelerate payment innovation on a global scale. With Citi Pay, we are offering our customers flexibility wherever and whenever they choose to make purchases.”

The issue here, of course, is can Citi Pay survive in a field that’s already jam-packed full of alternatives? The good news is that Citi Pay is focusing on Android, which means it won’t have to beat the Apple Pay walled garden to try and make any headway. The bad news, however, is that Citi Pay is very late to the party, and will now have to vie for market with Samsung Pay, LG Pay, and a host of store-specific apps with loyalty programs and the like.

Given that Citi Pay has a bank’s reputation behind it, that could be enough to get it some edge. Given further that Citi doesn’t really need the business to survive—it’s likely just extra cash for Citi—it doesn’t really matter if this doesn’t catch on in a big way. Still, it’s a worthwhile new entry, and should find at least some footing in the US.