Citigroup is planning to introduce an online bank that will be marketed on a nationwide scale.

Citi is in the process of developing the online entity, Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said Tuesday at the Royal Bank of Canada Financial Institutions Conference. Gerard Cassidy, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who interviewed Gerspach during a “fireside chat,” asked if Citi would introduce it within three to five years.

Citigroup CFO John Gerspach.
"We really are laying the groundwork for having a national digital bank at some point in time,” Citi CFO John Gerspach says.

“I think that’s something that is much closer than that,” Gerspach said. “I’d be really disappointed if it was anything close to being three years away. You would not want to announce that, you know, ‘we’re now having a national digital bank,’ until you were really sure that you could onboard and service your clients with a great experience."

Gerspach declined to provide a more specific timetable, and he provided few details on what products the online bank would offer or how they would be marketed.

Citi would be the latest big bank to try its hand at running either an online bank or niche platform on a national scale. Capital One entered the game in 2012 when it purchased ING Direct, which it later renamed Capital One 360. PNC Financial Services Group has said it will introduce an online national consumer lending platform.

Cassidy noted that Citi already has experience running a national business with its credit cards.

“Any thoughts about other products that can be marketed nationwide through a digital channel?” Cassidy asked Gerspach.

“When you think about all the capabilities that we’re building now on our retail bank,” Gerspach said, “we are moving more and more things onto mobile devices, we are coming up with new ways of serving our clients digitally. … We really are laying the groundwork for having a national digital bank at some point in time.”

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