NEW YORK Citibank is stepping up its online presence in Latin America through a five-year agreement with ZonaFinanciera.com, a financial Web site for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking people.
The bank is to work with the Miami-based company to create Web sites, customized by country, for its 10 million customers in the region. The sites are to include local financial information and tools.
Previously only Citibank customers in Brazil, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela could do financial transactions online. The new service, which is scheduled to be available by yearend, will let customers throughout Latin America do banking and brokerage transactions online.
"Content is one element of our strategy in Latin America," said Fernando Amandi, the managing director of Citibanks consumer Internet business in Latin America. "This will allow us to present a Web site that is complete to meet the needs of our customers. We will be announcing more initiatives in Latin America over the next few months."
Latin America is "the fastest-growing Internet region in the world," Mr. Amandi said.
International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., has predicted that the number of Internet users in Latin America will grow 122% from yearend 2000, to 29.6 million by the end of 2003.
Citibanks initiative comes after FleetBoston Financial Corp.s announcement this month of a partnership with Miami-based ePagos that aims to help small businesses in Argentina design transactional Web sites and accept online payments. Under this arrangement, Fleet would process transactions for the online merchant sites created and hosted by ePagos.