Citi has closed hundreds of branches in Asia in recent years, shrinking its network from 600 to roughly 250, according to «Reuters.» Despite downsizing its physical network, Citi is benefitting from the increasing shift towards digital banking among retail banking customers.

This (digital banking) has kind of evened the playing field for us because today, customers are online. We are no longer relying on having the number of branches to reach out to them, especially in a market like Singapore, said Charles Wong, Citibank Singapore’s head of retail banking.

Last October, Citi rolled out a virtual remote engagement feature for Singapore clients to speak with relationship managers on demand using screen sharing and video capabilities. The following month, it revamped its Citi Mobile app to offer a cleaner user interface and new features such as a multi-currency wallet.

The bank is also targeting to enable customers to open accounts with the bank digitally in the third quarter of this year. The aim is to enable all branch transactions to be carried out on the mobile app within the next two to three years.

Citi’s bets to serve retail banking clients via its mobile app and online services in Singapore appear to be paying off – its first-quarter revenue this year was up about 10 percent from a year ago, even as its physical branches have been cut back from 18 to 15 last year.

Digital acquisitions of retail banking customers grew 20 percent in Q1 from the year-ago quarter, said Wong. «In terms of how we generate interest and leads in the digital world through digital partners, versus generating leads through the traditional marketing channels, that has come up significantly as well,» he added.