So Much for a Great Divide

March 1, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO – With panels like designing a new bank, mobile money and virtual goods taking place throughout the day, The Future of Money & Technology Summit couldn’t have picked a better name. Innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs filled the sessions yesterday, and it only took a quick scan around the room and overhearing a few mutterings to know just how stoked the crowd was about these topics. But worth noting is that what wrapped up the one-day event heavily centered on startups: a keynote delivered by a bank, whose opening line was striking.

“The statement not made here today is you have to work with a bank. At some point, you will touch a bank. That’s the reality,” said Antonio Benjamin, global CTO for Citigroup/ Global Transaction Services/ Institutional Clients Group.

But startups shouldn’t fear that. “We want to work with all of you,” Benjamin told the audience. Benjamin pointed out he’s probably not the picture of a Citi banker – and I second that – nor was his openness very bank-like. He told attendees to direct message him on Twitter, because he responds to every message. Indeed, he says his aspirations are to work with all the startups attending the event, a timetable that “will be shorter than you think.”

Benjamin also pointed out why a bank like Citi is important to innovators. Simply put: it’s huge. 

“We are an aircraft carrier with massive assets at our disposal,” he said.  

 

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