Reaching $1 Billion in Financial Inclusion Through Citi Businesses and Clients

Bob Annibale,
Global Director
Citi Inclusive Finance

Ahmet Bekçe,
Head of the Export &
Agency Finance Group

In a new study, Citi estimates that 700 – 800 million people will be banked for the first time by 2022, compared to 2017. When we consider that there are 1.7 billion adults worldwide who are unable to use safe, affordable financial services to save for emergencies or grow a small business, a 700 million change is staggering.


At Citi, we know that enabling real economic progress, where everyone can participate in the formal economy, requires an intentional commitment to inclusion on the part of the financial industry. For a global institution like Citi, we’ve learned two things through this work. One, we cannot do it alone — the partnerships we have collectively propel all of us forward — and second, well-designed and marketed products and technology resonate.

This year, Citi is on track to reach a major milestone — $1 billion in lending towards financial inclusion across the globe. To date, Citi has cumulatively dispersed over $958 million in loans to 89 microfinance institutions and inclusive businesses through 131 transactions.

With microloans averaging $284 in size, an overwhelming majority (3.1 million or 93 percent) of the 3.3 million micro borrowers that we have served are women.

In Jordan, where just one in ten women are participating in the formal economy, Citi provided $5 million in financing in Jordanian Dinars to Microfund for Women (MFW), enabling them to reach an additional 10,000 underserved Jordanian women, increasing their number of borrowers by 7 percent. Last year, in India, where women make up 60 percent (114 million) of the country’s unbanked population, Citi funded the equivalent of US$29.5 million to CreditAccess Grameen. The funding will help reach an additional 75,000 women, 80 percent of whom live in rural, hard-to-reach locations.

Across Citi’s diverse footprint, we have many clients who have a deep understanding of emerging markets and the trust of local communities. As the leading global bank, we understand that there are no “one size fits all solutions” for inclusion, and that we have a unique opportunity to leverage our footprint and expertise to help our clients develop commercially sustainable solutions that deliver greater inclusive economic growth.

Partnering to Reach “The Last Mile”

For more than a decade, Citi Inclusive Finance and colleagues from Citi’s diverse businesses, ranging from Citibanamex to Citi Bangladesh, our Commercial Bank to Financial Institutions Group, have supported transactions that aim to expand access to products and services in low-income communities. In 2020, these efforts will reach $1 billion in financial inclusion lending globally. Eighty percent of these deals have been arranged in collaboration with the Export & Agency Finance group (EAF), which creates risk-sharing partnerships with international development agencies like the U.S. Development Financial Corporation (formerly OPIC) and the Asian Development Bank to embed social impact into Citi’s core businesses. Moreover, Citi is able to provide financing solutions in respective local currency, where applicable, by mobilizing our extensive network and local balance sheet, which uniquely differentiates Citi’s value add in this space.

By working with development finance agencies, our goal is to create a multisector model that others can follow, therefore boosting international investment for lower income communities in emerging markets.

Beyond the nearly $1 billion that has been booked cumulatively on Citi’s own balance sheets, Citi has enabled more than $3 billion in financing financial inclusion efforts in collaboration with many businesses through Capital Markets, IPOs, Loan Syndications, Fund Management and Global Payments.

Digital Access at Scale

As Jane Fraser, President of Citi and CEO of Global Consumer Banking, recently said, “The passion that people have in emerging markets to make their populations’ lives much, much better is the driving motivation for advancing new digital technologies and financial services.”

Citi’s new Global Perspectives and Solutions report, Banking the Next Billion, demonstrates that digital solutions are driving unprecedented growth in global financial inclusion.

Moreover, Citi finds innovative ways to use products to bring millions of formerly unbanked customers into the financial mainstream through many products and platforms. Through the launch of Citibanamex’s Cobro Digital (or CoDi Payment, for short), we are enabling more than 5.5 million digital clients to send invoices and payments of up to 8,000 pesos (US$400) by using QR codes on their phones at no cost.

Through a joint venture with America Movil and a strategic partnership with Oxxo, a network of convenience stores, Citibanamex provides a basic account and mobile banking solution for the unbanked sector in Mexico called Transfer. Transfer has grown to more than 10 million accounts—with 80 percent of clients accessing banking services for the first time.

In the U.S., Citi’s checkless, low to no fee Access Account now makes up 23 percent of all newly opened accounts.

Our Next Billion

Fundamentally, we believe that expanding access to economic opportunity and financial security for all is good for society, and not incidentally, good for Citi and our clients. By leveraging cross-sector partnerships, innovative approaches, and Citi’s local balance sheets, we are delivering on our commitment to expand financial inclusion in the communities we serve.