Citigroup and America Online, Inc. announced a major multi-year strategic alliance that will bring a new dimension to personal finance for online consumers. Together, the companies will offer users of AOL, CompuServe, and other of the AOL brands a wide range of financial products and services and new payment capabilities designed to transform how consumers make payments over the Internet.
Under the strategic agreement:
— Citigroup and America Online will build new payment and money transfer features across AOL, AOL.COM, CompuServe, Netscape Netcenter, AOLTV and Digital City, as well as AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, providing consumers the ability to easily and securely purchase goods and services, send money to friends and family, complete auction transactions, and, over time, transfer money between accounts.
— Citigroup will also become a preferred provider of a full range of financial products and services — including Citibank banking, mortgages, loans and credit cards, Salomon Smith Barney brokerage and investment services and Travelers insurance products — across the AOL brands, making some of the most well-known and respected names in financial products easily, conveniently and seamlessly available to the online consumer.
Sanford I. Weill, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup, said, “This alliance brings together two industry leaders: Citigroup and America Online. Financial services are becoming more and more critical to the online consumer, and AOL is an ideal partner to reach these consumers. Together we intend to make it easier for consumers to execute all kinds of transactions online, and to bring the most important financial products and services of today and tomorrow to online consumers. This groundbreaking alliance will bring us closer to our goal of offering consumers a comprehensive suite of financial services anytime, anywhere, through the channels they prefer.”
Bob Pittman, President and Chief Operating Officer, America Online, Inc., said: “The explosive growth of online financial services is illustrative of two converging trends – the mass market coming online and its growing need for individual financial guidance and solutions. By combining AOL’s hallmark ease-of-use and Citigroup’s respected financial services brands, this agreement will dramatically change online finance and payments and provide unprecedented access to the best, most comprehensive and valuable financial products and services.”
Consumers will be able to access Citigroup’s payment capabilities and products through the AOL brands beginning in the fall. As part of the agreement, Citigroup will also promote AOL products and services on Web sites and through other customer outreach.
Expanding Payment Choices and Security for Customers
Building on its position as the world’s leading payment processor, Citigroup will create new capabilities and act as a “clearinghouse” for a wide range of interactive consumer transactions across AOL media, from simple purchases from e-retailers, to sending money to friends and family, to completing auction transactions, to money transfers between accounts of any financial company. Citigroup will create an entirely new line of payment options designed specifically for executing transactions online, with new incentives and features. Person-to-person money transfers will be the first new payment capability to be made available through the alliance. This will enable users of the AOL brands to safely, easily and securely send money to a child in college, as a gift for a friend’s birthday, or as payment for services.
Citigroup will also offer lines of credit created specifically for the Internet and other new media, which will offer rewards, features and services – including cash back, airline mileage and purchase protection and guarantees – unrivaled among existing online consumer credit products. Other payment and money transfer options will be added over time.
Consumers will also have the confidence of knowing their purchases and transactions are protected by the consumer privacy policies and protections of both America Online and Citigroup.
Enhanced Access to a Full Range of Financial Products and Services
Citigroup products and services will be prominently promoted in the personal finance areas of AOL, Netscape, CompuServe and Digital Cities, including the banking, brokerage, insurance and business news areas. Citigroup will also have a continuous presence on AOL’s “My Accounts” page, the new account aggregation area of AOL’s Personal Finance Channel.
Consumers will be able to sign up for a wide range of products offered by Citibank, Salomon Smith Barney and Travelers Insurance, including banking, brokerage, investments, mortgages, credit cards, home equity loans, student loans and a full range of insurance offerings. Users will also be able to view their current Citigroup accounts online.
AOL’s Personal Finance Channel, ranked by Media Metrix as the #1 financial destination on the Internet, offers the most comprehensive suite of financial tools and information available in cyberspace, enabling members to research and trade stocks and mutual funds, conduct their online banking, get the most up-to-date business and market news, access detailed financial data, and chat with other members about market trends and financial information. The Channel maintains over 13 million active investment portfolios, with 22,000 new portfolios added every trading day, and provides AOL members with more than 180 million stock quotes per trading day, and over 4 billion quotes per month. The Channel also generates over 12 million financial graphs per month for AOL users.
Citigroup, the most global financial services company, provides some 100 million consumers, corporations, governments and institutions in over 100 countries with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage and asset management. The 1998 merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group brought together such brand names as Citibank, Travelers, Salomon Smith Barney, CitiFinancial and Primerica under Citigroup’s trademark red umbrella. Additional information may be found at  Citigroup was a leader in making ATMS a norm in banking which transformed the way consumers access their money worldwide. Today, it offers consumers a wide range of products and services on the web and its award winning web banking and discount brokerage product-Direct Access-is available to consumers in 22 countries. Also, as the world’s largest credit card company, with 97 million cards, it is the brand consumers use most often for web purchases. Other Citigroup products available to consumers on the web include loans, mortgages and insurance.
About America Online, Inc.
Founded in 1985, America Online, Inc., based in Dulles, Virginia, is the world’s leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies, and e-commerce services. America Online, Inc. operates: America Online, with more than 23 million members, and CompuServe, with more than 2.7 million members, the company’s two worldwide Internet services; several leading Internet brands including ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger and Digital City, Inc.; the Netscape Netcenter and AOL.COM portals; the Netscape Netcenter and Communicator browsers; AOL Moviefone, the nation’s #1 movie listing guide and ticketing service; and Spinner.com and NullSoft’s Winamp, leaders in Internet music. Through its strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems, the company develops and offers easy-to-deploy, end-to-end and enterprise solutions for companies operating in the Net Economy.