The agreement should make life simpler for Citigroup customers. Passport will save them effort signing into the company’s websites without compromising security, while they will also receive alerts via .NET. Other financial services providers should take note, as this is a good way to increase the attractiveness of their online services.
Citigroup has partnered with Microsoft to use its .NET and Passport technologies.
Citigroup and Microsoft have signed a deal allowing Citigroup customers to use Microsoft technologies, including Passport and .NET Alerts. The company currently has more than 16 million online customers worldwide, covering banking, brokerage, credit cards and other services.
The Passport system will mean that customers who have signed into Passport services such as MSN Messenger will be automatically identified when they visit Citigroup sites. They will then have to enter a Citigroup password before being granted access to personal information or being able to conduct transactions, which should help address the security fears many people associate with Passport.
Citi Cards customers will be the first to use NET. Alerts. The service will alert them when a payment is due, when they reach their credit limit has been reached or when a new statement comes out. Alerts can be sent to a users desktop, mobile device or email address. Citi Cards, which will become Microsoft’s preferred payments provider, is the largest supplier of cards in the US with more than 94 million accounts.
Citigroup is not the first financial services provider to enter into partnership with Microsoft. In July 2001, the UK’s Egg announced that it was to set up a fund supermarket available through MSN’s MoneyCentral channel. The service is due to launch in 2002.
Partnerships are an effective way for financial service providers to increase online functionality and customisation opportunities, and hence to increase the level of usage of their online services. They are also a way in which to acquire additional customers by effective promotion on key sites on the Internet.
Other financial services suppliers should therefore keep their eyes on the tie-up between Citigroup and Microsoft. It is something that they should look to replicate.