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Citi's New Online Banking Tools Reflect the Evolving Role of the Corporate Treasurer

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Citigroup (NYSE: C) is launching several new payment and treasury features in an effort to boost its services for corporates.

One is a cash-flow tool that will let customers forecast how much money they will have in the bank based on past balances. Another is a set of enhancements to Citi's messaging system that mimic some aspects of SWIFT, the member-owned cooperative through which banks exchange information. And third, perhaps most importantly, a payments hub that directs users on how best to send cash for receivables based on past information.

"They are all underpinned by technology and we see technology as a key differentiator for our business, and our clients," says Andrew Gelb, Citi's head of North American treasury and trade solutions.

As the economy recovers, corporate treasurers are expected to do a lot more at the companies where they work, says Christine Berry, a research director at the Aite Group.

In the past, a company might have picked a bank based on the line of credit that a financial institution was offering the business. Now additional technology tools make a difference.

"Credit still initiates a lot of bank relationships," Berry says. "But the role of treasury services has increased a lot."

Instead of just keeping track of a company's finances, a corporate treasurer is now called on to complete additional tasks, such as making forecasts on how much cash a business will have on hand, she says.

With that in mind, Citi launched its cash flow forecasting tool in September.

Among other functions, the tool provides stress-testing models that analyze a company's potential performance under many different budgetary situations.

Citi's Payment Exchange feature allows users to send ACH, check and credit card payments. It launched in the third quarter of this year.

Enhancements to CitiConnect, the bank's messaging system, launched in August.

Those new options allow support for Swift-formatted messages and a direct plug-in to CitiDirect, Citi's online banking platform for institutional clients.

"The overall theme here is we are continuing to broaden our suite of connectivity tools to offer clients more choice," says Gelb.

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