Citi’s FinTech group launches its first product, a new mobile app

The top tier, white-shoe, silver spoon set that banks with Citi in the U.S. through its Citigold program are about to get a taste of the first fruits from the financial services giant’s year-old Citi FinTech initiative.

The newly updated Citi Mobile App for iPhone combines banking, wealth management, and money transfer services along with new authentication features to provide improved security, the company said.

It’s a service that’s only available to the bank’s upper crust clientele who have the Citigold account. And it showcases what banks continue to get wrong about new financial technologies for consumers.

As long as banks continue to put velvet ropes around the services that startups are offering to everyone, they’re going to be watching the bulk of their business go elsewhere.

What the bank gets right, and what new entrants in the market are doing too, is incorporating a number of different services that used to be available as discrete applications under one roof.

By putting money transfers and investing in one app the company is taking a step toward the integrated approach that will most likely be the hallmark of future app businesses. Customers should be able to buy and sell stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, have a passive savings and 401-K tools working in the background, and be able to transfer money to others in one app instead of three or four.

Existing banks would be uniquely positioned to provide these services to customers, but right now most of the customers don’t have access to these (at least for now) premium functions.

“We set out to solve for our clients’ more complex financial and investment needs first which is why many new features are tailored to Citigold clients,” said Yolande Piazza, the chief operating officer of Citi FinTech.

Over a five-month period the company reached out to 2,500 clients to hear what they were looking for or wanted in a financial product. Using that feedback the company had its Citi FinTech unit build the features in a series of two-week development sprints.

“We tested one to one with thousands of clients, incorporating their feedback and preferences so we could build the right functionality, streamline design and make the experience intuitive,” said Carey Kolaja, Global Head of Product at Citi FinTech in a statement.

That’s exactly the point. Citi, according to its own estimates, has over 100 million retail banking customers and by catering to the wealthiest 2,500 in the U.S. there’s no way it can’t expect to be accused of not caring about most of them. When businesses ignore the needs of the majority of their customers, those customers will try to go elsewhere.

The Citi app is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Only a fraction of its customer base will get to sample the wares that the company has devoted a chunk of resources and a new business unit to produce. For those that can’t, perhaps they’ll look to shop elsewhere.