In 2008, when Citigroup lost a record $18.7 billion, its global transaction services unit boosted revenues 22 percent, to $9.6 billion, and contributed net earnings of $3 billion, up 34 percent from the year before. Paul Galant, who joined Citi in 2002 and since March 2007 had been head of GTS, responsible for cash management and custody and other securities services, says he views such processing businesses as essentially technology companies with banking licenses.
Now the 42-year-old is thinking about technology transfers, because in April 2009 CEO Vikram Pandit tapped him to run Citi Cards, a major global profit center reeling from the recession. Galant is applying approaches he used in GTS for example, putting the entire operation on common systems. He envisions combining credit cards and other borrowing sources into a working capital program, analogous to a GTS offering for companies, for a level of consumer that has become disenfranchised. Galant believes consumers choose cards based on brand, rewards and service quality, and attracting them is 75 percent technology and tools, 25 percent people.
He looks to technological efficiencies to help pay for better trained customer-contact staff. Citi-branded card revenue fell 17 percent in 2009, to $9.97 billion, and the business lost $115 million. But in the first quarter of 2010, revenue improved 52 percent year over year, to $4.27 billion, yielding a $166 million profit.
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