Citi Extends Mobile Developer Challenge

Citi, this week in collaboration with IBM, announced that it is extending its Citi Mobile Challenge to create a new generation of mobile computing applications that will be hosted on the IBM Bluemix cloud integration platform.

Announced at the IBM InterConnect 2015 conference, Citi is inviting developers to build mobile applications using its APIs. Initially, Citi plans to evaluate 700 applications that will be developed in Europe over a three-month period from which Citi will select four finalists. The program with then be extended to Latin America and Asia Pacific.

Finalists will then be invited to demonstrate their applications at events in Nairobi, Jerusalem, Warsaw, and London. Winners will be eligible to share in $100,000 in cash prizes and then be invited to take their applications to market jointly with Citi and IBM.

Heather Cox, chief client experience, digital, and marketing officer for Global Consumer Banking at Citi, says the bank is taking its approach to hackathons to another level by making it a continuous event. Citi has already worked with 165,000 developers to build applications using its APIs, but is looking for additional ways to embed its payment network into as many applications as possible as part of a deliberate effort to unleash, develop, and disrupt business processes.

Specifically, Cox cited Joint Pay, a mobile application that Citi rolled out that enables customers to split restaurant checks as an example of the type of innovation that Citi is looking to foster.

For its part, IBM is making Bluemix cloud services available for free to developers participating in the Citi Mobile Challenge, along with credits that will enable developers to run their applications on the IBM SoftLayer cloud computing platform. In addition, IBM no doubt wants to also expose those developers to the IBM MobileFirst application development platform.

Sandy Carter, general manager for IBM cloud ecosystems, says IBM will also make up to 80 hours of free training available to developers participating in the Citi Mobile Challenge.

The rise of mobile computing in general, and APIs in particular, are clearly transforming the banking industry. Financial institutions such as Citi that were once considered to be pretty stodgy when it came to innovation are clearly responding to new sources of electronic payment competition. The degree to which institutions such as Citi will succeed remains to be seen, but with each passing day, it looks more likely that plastic credit cards will soon be nothing more than a memory of some earlier time.

Michael Vizard