- Citizens Bank was poised to release a new, mobile-first customer application early this year, but delayed it amid a massive change in consumer behavior from the coronavirus.
- The new app — now scheduled for wide release in the coming months — is part of a broader digital vision from CEO Bruce Van Saun to blow past rival regional banks and better compete against industry heavyweights.
- “You can see the digital adoption that’s taking place from COVID-19. I think it’s going to have staying power,” he told Business Insider.
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Citizens Bank was hoping to release its new, mobile-first customer application in February.
The launch marked an important milestone for the company.
It was a central part of an end-to-end digitization plan that CEO Bruce Van Saun is hoping will propel the company past its regional counterparts and put it in closer competition with industry titans such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
But once the coronavirus hit and consumer behaviors changed drastically, Citizens Bank had to quickly pivot.
Its existing digital platform saw such a surge of usage that Van Saun and the team opted to delay releasing the new system for fear that it would buckle under the demand.
“You can see the digital adoption that’s taking place from COVID-19. I think it’s going to have staying power,” he told Business Insider. “The last thing we want to do is roll out a whole platform to the mass customer base and have any kinds of issues.”
The application is one part of a sweeping program — referred to internally as the next-generation technology initiative — largely aimed at transforming most, if not all aspects of the business, both internally and externally.
Van Saun estimated the initiative could ultimately lead to as much as $300 million in benefits for the firm.
On top of new platforms for its consumer and enterprise clients, Citizens is also pivoting to agile teams — or cross-functional groups tasked with a specific goal.
That covers the 3,000 of its 18,000 employees that are involved in the “change the bank” efforts, said Van Saun.
The goal is to “create some persistent funding so those groups get to work together on a relatively permanent basis,” he added. While it’s still early in the initiative, the teams that already pivoted to agile “tend to get the projects done in at least 30% less time.”
And with a bigger tech team on the horizon, Citizens Bank is hoping to get even more responsive to customer needs and roll out new features much more quickly than it has in the past.
Beefing up on tech talent
The company’s IT team will end up looking vastly different.
Last year, the company hired 60 digital engineers to help build-out the new consumer-facing application — part of a broader push by Chief Information Officer…