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Citibank Launches Challenge to Apple and Google With Citi Pay

November 10, 2016, 3:47 PM UTC
Citigroup Inc. Bank Branches Ahead Of 4th Quarter Earnings Release
Pedestrians walk past a Citigroup Inc. Citibank branch in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Citigroup Inc. is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings on January 15. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph byAndrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Citi is the latest company to enter the mobile wallet wars, which is dominated by Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, Samsung Pay, and others.

On Thursday, the finance titan (C) unveiled Citi Pay, a new mobile wallet for Android phone users. The concept is similar to Android Pay, Google’s (GOOGL) mobile payments service, in that customers load Citibank credit card and debit card information onto an Android app.

Shoppers can then use that app to make in-store purchases at any merchant equipped with point-of-sale registers supporting near-field communication (NFC) technology, which enables frictionless payments between smartphones and registers. Users place their phones near the registers’ sensors for payments instead of swiping a card.

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Customers can also use Citibank online login and password information to make online purchases and in-app purchases. Citi is also partnering with Mastercard (MA) to allow Citi Pay customers to use the platform as a payment method with hundreds of thousands of online merchants across 33 countries at launch.

Citi Pay won’t launch in the United States until early 2017, but it will roll out later this year to customers in Singapore, Australia, and Mexico.

Citi isn’t the first financial institution to take aim at the mobile wallet. Chase Bank (CCF) debuted its own mobile wallet in 2015. Earlier this year, Wells Fargo (WFC) launched a similar mobile wallet.

Banks, like Apple (AAPL) and Google, are hoping to connect with their customers where they are spending the most time: on their smartphones. Citibank even has a financial technology innovations group, called Citi FinTech, which is comprised of 40 employees from various parts of Citi and poached from tech companies such as Amazon and PayPal.