5 Questions on Holiday Spending: Citigroup’s Liza Landsman

For this year’s Briefing Room on Holiday Shopping, PYMNTS.com asked Liza Landsman, Managing Director of North America Consumer Internet & Mobile at Citigroup, to offer her holiday shopping predections.

1) The shopping season has officially begun, and everyone has a holiday shopping spending prediction. What’s yours based on your own data and observations?

For our customers across Citi, we expect spending levels for this holiday season to be moderately higher than last year on both debit and credit cards. We have seen a greater number of customer transactions with smaller average purchases.

2) How are people paying for the things that they buy this year? Is this season of cash, check, credit or debit? How is this different from what you saw two years ago before the economy tanked? Is it different than last year’s dark Christmas?

Today’s consumers are definitely more aware and vigilant about how they use their credit cards to make purchases. That said, the percentage of our customers who use their credit cards online continues to grow, which we find is reinforced by Citi’s recognized strengths in preventing fraud and identify theft protection.

3) From where you sit in the ecosystem, how does the consumers choice of payment type impact your business? What are you doing to offset what might be the double whammy of reduced consumer spending, the credit crunch, and the reduced revenue coming from their choice of payment type?

Consumer choice is at the center of Citi’s mission. We are there to support that choice with a commitment to service and value, whether our customers choose debit or credit payment vehicles. For example, our checking customers can enjoy our ThankYou Rewards program, earning points for dollars spent on both PIN (1 point / $3) and signature (1 point / $2) debit transactions. In addition, we help our customers manage their money more wisely: We do not authorize one-time debit card point of sale transactions if the customer does not have sufficient available funds. This avoids a potential overdraft for that transaction. Citi’s focus for this holiday season and beyond is to make our customers’ experience with our products and services as simple and easy possible, particularly for our customers who bank with us online or on their mobile phones.

4) It’s still early, but how would you describe this season’s holiday shopping sentiment?
A) A holiday classic B) Full of hope, just like Tiny Tim C) The Grinch stole it

We see in the marketplace a growing sense of hope and optimism from consumers, tempered by a greater level of responsibility and restraint this holiday season.

5) In general, what do you think will the next big thing in payments in 2010, i.e. what’s next?

In the near term, consumers will continue to look to recognized brands — like Citi — for security and confidence in their choice of payment devices. Over the longer term, Citi continues to pursue innovations in mobile and contactless payment devices.


Liza Landsman is the Managing Director of North America Consumer Internet & Mobile at Citigroup. Liza Landsman joined Citigroup in 2000 and has had roles in e-citi’s Strategic Alliance Group, Citi Business Credit Cards, Citi Analytics and Citi Cards leading Internet and Channel programs. Most recently, she assumed responsibility for all Internet & Mobile channel strategy and operations across Citi’s North American consumer businesses. Prior to Citigroup, Liza led corporate and business development teams in IBM’s Consumer Division & Global Services Group, a dot com in the payment space, and enjoyed various roles across the Media and Publishing Industries. Liza is a graduate of Cornell University.