New York – Citi announced today the launch of Bridge built by CitiSM, a new lending platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses connect with various regional, local and community banks online for loans up to $10 million. The development and launch of Bridge built by Citi is part of Citi's long-standing commitment to inclusive access to capital and support of innovative, digital-first solutions in or for financial services.
The Bridge built by Citi platform will initially include 18 banks and will be available to businesses through a pilot program across the Southeast and Rockies regions, including Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
For many small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., securing a loan involves manual processes that can be time consuming. Often, they are limited to banks near their own location. Additionally, local and community banks have limited access to digital tools to reach potential borrowers, which can make it difficult to broaden their customer base.
Bridge built by Citi connects businesses with lenders in their region, enabling borrowers to interact with lenders beyond those that have a physical location nearby through a single, quick and easy online request. By connecting borrowers with more lenders, the platform can empower businesses with access, choice and convenience as well as capital to grow their businesses. Lenders can expand their reach beyond their immediate local market and offer their clients a seamless, high-quality user experience.
"Citi believes in the power of local, small businesses and continues to find ways to support businesses that are the foundation of communities across the U.S. Citi funded loans totaling more than $5 billion as part of the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program during 2020 and 2021," shared Richard Banziger, Head of Citi's U.S. Commercial Bank. "As both a lender and a community stakeholder, we have a deep understanding of the problems businesses face when trying to navigate the borrowing process. We are committed to finding digital solutions that can make the process easier, more seamless and more equitable."
The Bridge built by Citi platform aims to
1. Create liquidity and access to capital: Borrowers submit their information via a single, standardized form for all lenders. Lenders are provided with an access point to deploy capital.
2. Modernize and automate prospecting: The platform uses technology to allow for smart and efficient prospecting, which works better for both lenders and borrowers.
3. Add digitization, transparency and standardization to the loan process: Borrowers and lenders have the ability to track the loan process in real-time.
4. Continue to innovate and digitize small and medium-sized business lending: Bridge built by Citi modernizes the lending process while supporting businesses and regional, local and community lenders.
5. Democratize the loan process for both lenders and borrowers: Enable capital access for small and medium-sized business owners impacted by COVID-19 and populations that have historically been underserved, as well as break down legacy barriers for regional, local and community banks to provide capital to a broad range of communities.
Citi has a long-standing commitment to inclusive growth and expanding access to financial services for underserved market segments, including local business owners and entrepreneurs. Most recently, Citi's Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory Division launched the Citi Rotation Program, which is a secondment arrangement that will embed a Citi executive with Black-owned banks. The Rotation Program is designed to help the banks with their operations and business development, and the initial rotation is with Unity National Bank of Houston.
Citi's Action for Racial Equity commitment is focused on helping close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the U.S. Bridge built by Citi will create an opportunity to engage with Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) along with other local banks to help drive new business and revenue to their local institutions via the platform.
"Citi has been a great partner to Optus Bank as we look to grow our customer base and continue to extend loans to small businesses," stated Dominik Mjartan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Optus Bank. "Bridge built by Citi will enable us to deploy the capital we've raised from Citi and others back to more entrepreneurs—jumpstarting the desperately needed revitalization after this pandemic ravaged many neighborhoods, particularly those in underbanked communities."
Recognizing the importance of local businesses and banks to the vitality of U.S. communities, a Citi team led by Rohit Mathur and Harte Thompson saw an opportunity to build a digital meeting place that would help businesses thrive by increasing and facilitating easier access to capital. The platform was developed through Citi's D10X® program, an internal incubation process that helped test the hypothesis, explore the market and develop the solution.
"Citi prides itself on encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship among its employees to solve financial access issues and improve digital offerings for our clients and community partners," explained Vanessa Colella, Citi's Chief Innovation Officer. "The development and launch of the Bridge built by Citi platform is a great example of the power of innovation that comes from within a global institution like Citi and our ability to build a service that has the potential to change the future of business lending."
Currently, the following regional, local and community banks are available on the platform:
5Star Bank, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Atlantic Capital Bank, Atlanta, Ga.
BancorpSouth Bank, Tupelo, Miss.
Bank OZK, Little Rock, Ark.
Carver State Bank, Savannah, Ga.
Citizens Trust Bank, Atlanta, Ga.
Colony Bank, Fitzgerald, Ga.
FirstBank, Nashville, Tenn.
First Farmers and Merchants Bank, Columbia, Tenn.
First Horizon Bank, Memphis, Tenn.
First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO), Omaha, Neb.
Independent Financial, McKinney, Texas
JD Bank, Jennings, La.
Liberty Bank & Trust Company, New Orleans, La
Mechanics & Farmers Bank, Durham, N.C.
Optus Bank, Columbia, S.C.
Unity National Bank of Houston, Houston, Texas
Vantage Bank, San Antonio, Texas
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
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