Citi’s Chief Digital Officer Connects Data to Customer Experience

The amount of data now being generated by consumers is testing the constraints of the dictionary.

Only 10 years ago it was measured in terabyteswhich is a trillion bytes. But now those 329 million terabytes of data are generated every day, and data scientists have applied a relatively new term: The Zettabyte Era.

It’s the last metric standing as data continues to explode daily. And in case you’re wondering, a zettabyte is one sextillion bytes — a 1 followed by 21 zeros. In 2025, some reports predict that 181 zettabytes of data will be generated annually.

Managing that amount of data is a daunting, maybe even impossible, task for financial services companies as well as other industries. Twenty-seven percent of all global companies now have a C-level executive assigned strictly to data, either as chief data officers or chief digital officers.

One of the leaders in this field is Citi Chief Digital Officer for U.S. Personal Banking Michael Naggar. After six years on the job — most recently adding chief information officer to his title — Naggar has been one of the key executives behind Citi’s digital transformation.

As CEO Jane Fraser pointed out on the company’s first-quarter earnings call, active mobile users as of Q1 reached 19 million, and active digital users topped 25 million.

For Naggar the digital strategy that contributed to that success has been marked by connections: connecting data to the digital customer experience; connecting data to the rest of Citi’s C-Suite; and connecting data to digital product development. He estimated that about 85% of the financial institution’s products and services now have a digital version. Right now, his focus is on continuing the migration to mobile and digital platforms, where he said consumers have a higher satisfaction level and stronger relationships with Citi.

“I like to look within our own industry to see where the consumer will be as well as what our competitors are doing,” he told PYMNTS. “But I also look at other industries, like in the airline industry, retail, healthcare — I like to see how users are adopting new technologies and how that could apply to what we’re doing in banking. Then I marry those observations to the internal data of what consumers are actually doing on our platforms. We have an extensive focus over the last two to three years on our data. We connect all of it to understanding what our customers are doing so we can get ahead of them before they need it.”

New Products

What does that look like in practice? Citi has unveiled a slew of new applications and products over the past six months.

For starters, according to Naggar, Citi completely rebuilt its Android mobile platform, which led to an increase in user satisfaction ratings.

The focus then shifted to creating seamless, end-to-end mobile experiences. A notable feature, codenamed “Wayfinder,” was developed to connect various customer tasks within the app into a continuous journey, Naggar said. For example, if a user locks a lost card through the app, it now suggests and facilitates related actions like card replacement or disputing charges.

Citi has also used Apple’s App Clip for credit card acquisition, allowing users to apply for and use a card immediately without fully downloading the app. This feature supports instant spending followed by a prompt to download the full app for ongoing account management.

To streamline the login process and shift toward a passwordless system, Citi introduced QR codes. This innovation supports mobile biometric authentication, addressing user complaints about password resets and enhancing security.

“I look at our digital engagement in three different ways,” Naggar said. “The first one is tying together banking services. This would cover what you need to do on a daily basis to manage your bank account and manage your credit card spend. Second, we need to tie that into what people are doing daily. They have to spend money. They have to pay their bills. They may need to pay their employees. So, we’ve built a lot of capabilities connecting the experiences between banking and shopping or life moments.”

When he gets to No. 2 on his digital engagement list, Naggar brings in data. That’s where he and his team know how to tie banking services to life moments.

Digital-Analog Connection

His third element is somewhat surprising. It’s connecting the analog world to the digital one. He said the physical world and the behaviors consumers use to navigate it have a lot to do with the digital world.

A lot of people think that digital engagement is just about moving everything to digital,” he said. “But in actuality, it’s really tying the analog space to the digital space and understanding what’s happening in the analog world so you can better service the customer’s financial needs in the digital space. When you tie it all together, you start to see trends and you start to see capabilities that you can build on top of those for consumers before they demand it.”

Naggar is also navigating the crossroads of financial services and artificial intelligence, with a strategic focus on using it to predict and enhance customer behavior insights and services.

Initially, the bank concentrated on integrating and synthesizing both internal and external data sources to create a comprehensive view of its customers. With this groundwork in place, Citi has been developing AI-driven capabilities aimed at providing personalized services to its customers. For example, when a customer purchases an airline ticket, AI enables Citi to automatically send travel notifications and tailored financial offers, such as personal installment loans suited to the destination.

Naggar also highlighted Citi’s cautious exploration into generative AI and advanced machine learning techniques, which he said he expects will improve customer interaction through automated services and chatbots.

While he said he is enthusiastic about the potential of AI to transform banking experiences and operational productivity, he characterized Citi as taking a prudent approach, prioritizing customer security and data protection as it expands its AI capabilities.