Citibank is using middleware to track customer interactions across multiple accounts and access channels.
The bank has been able to develop new products such as account aggregation and to meet stringent new financial requirements by synchronising account access and back office systems, said Sanjeeb Chaudhuri, managing director for Citibank International.
The credit risk regulation Basel II requirements, due to come into force in 2006, have forced banks to re-examine their liabilities, said Chaudhuri.
The bank is using an integration layer of middleware from Polaris Software to enable it to track customer activity across multiple accounts, whether the customer is using call centres, internet banking or branches.
Polaris Software merged with OrbiTech Solutions, itself a spin-off from Citibank's parent company, Citigroup, in 2002.
By being able to track all customer activity across any accounts held, Citibank can accurately assess its total liability, Chaudhuri said.
Additionally, closer links between what a customer is doing and the channel they chose to operate mean that Citibank can improve its self-service options.
"Clearly that helps us reduce the cost of customer interactions, making it many times cheaper for us," he added.
By increasing the number of customers that complete even just parts of transactions online, operational costs could be reduced by tens of millions of pounds.
To date, banks have been disappointed by the cost savings they had achieved through investment in internet technology, said Remus Brett, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
Consumers have not changed their behaviour in the way that banks had hoped, he said. But by targeting complex transactions, where customers want online research backed up by personal interaction, banks can make investments with the potential for big returns.
"Over the next five years, we believe it is possible to save up to 30 per cent on transactions costs through this type of targeted investment," said Brett.
According to Chaudhuri, trials have already taken place in Germany of technology that allows customers and call centre operatives to be reading the same information online, making communication more like face-to-face interaction.
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