- Citizens Bank has launched a credit card that features a tactile notch to assist visually impaired consumers, the Providence, Rhode Island-based lender announced Wednesday.
- The product is aimed at the bank’s wealth-management clients. Citizens wants to build out its offerings and data-driven advice to that segment to offset declines in its mass-market customer group.
- The card, marking the U.S. debut of Mastercard’s Touch Card feature, offers a yearly rebate, 2% cash back, Transportation Security Administration Pre-Check rebates, airport lounge access and other experience-based benefits.
The private-client card emphasizes Citizens Bank’s push for market share among high-net-worth clients as its customer pool shifts.
The bank’s mass-market user base has declined over the past five years, while its “affluent and mass affluent” customer segments have grown, Brendan Coughlin, Citizens’ vice chair and head of consumer banking, said at a New York City event hosted by Mastercard on Tuesday.
“Most affluent and high-net-worth clients have relationships with traditional banks,” Coughlin said Tuesday. “There’s certainly a segment that go into the investment banking space and the Goldmans of the world, but a very high percentage of them want a traditional bank experience, but with the expectation that the service standard is way higher.”
The private-client market is an area where Citizens can win by combining traditional banking with tailored, wealth management and financial planning products and services, Coughlin said.
Citizens’ acquisition strategy also aligns with its outreach to high-net-worth clients. In 2018, for example, Citizens agreed to acquire registered investment adviser firm Clarfeld Financial Advisors.
“How do you bring a world-class, white-glove experience to that segment that has more sophisticated needs and demands?” said Coughlin. “We bought wealth-management firms, mortgage firms, we bought commercial bank [mergers-and-acquisitions] advisory firms. Now we have to build our distinction and try to be the big in the winner's circle in a highly competitive market.”
Citizens in January signed an agreement making Mastercard its exclusive payments provider across all product portfolios.
A key differentiator on Citizens’ private-client card is the Touch Card feature — tactile notches to help visually impaired customers: a square notch for credit cards; a round notch for debit cards; and a triangular notch for prepaid cards. Touch Card features will eventually be rolled out across the rest of Citizens card portfolio.
Citizens, which has boosted its brick-and-mortar presence across the U.S., seeks to combine tailored, in-person services with advice based on data-driven analytics, Coughlin said. It’s also looking to boost offerings for small businesses, which he said often haven’t been well served by commercial banks.
Whether digital or in person, the bank intends to lean heavily on client needs based on data, Coughlin said.
“To me, digital is about financial competence and empowerment and advice,” Coughlin said. “With digital, you can provide data intelligence insight to give people advice [in] real time.”