Citi fintech acceleration head departs

Citigroup branch sign

Citi’s Jorge Ruiz had spearheaded the bank’s Citi Modile Challenge programme

Jorge Ruiz, a managing director based in Miami and global digital acceleration head, left the US bank in September to launch his own venture. Ruiz, who joined Citi nearly two decades ago, was also its business development and digital banking head for Latin America until early 2015.

In his fintech role at Citi, Ruiz helped define and implement a global strategy to speed up digital innovation and create a new digital business model.

His new company, called above & beyond, will help local and regional financial institutions global take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technologies and better integrate with the fintech ecosystem.

Ruiz said: “We are building the ‘visa’ for fintech.”

At Citi, Ruiz had been a driving force behind the creation of the Citi Mobile Challenge, a global hackathon aimed at encouraging software programmers around the world to develop solutions for mobile banking and payments that could be integrated with the bank’s systems.

Selected participants had access to several of the bank’s application programme interfaces, or sets of instructions and tools for building software. By opening some up, Citi gave external developers instructions on how to develop real-life prototypes of applications that could function with its own technology.

First launched in Latin America in 2014, the programme was then replicated in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific.

The challenge was one of several of Citi’s fintech initiatives. The bank was one of the first major lenders to set up a a venture fund to invest in tech startups. Silicon Valley-based Citi Ventures has backed a number of well-known fintech companies, such Square, the payments company launched by Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, and robo-adviser Betterment.

Ruiz is the latest senior fintech executive to have left his role at a bank to launch or join a fintech startup. In June, Huy Nguyen Trieu, head of macro structuring at Citi in London, left the bank to launch a fintech advisory firm and business builder called The Disruptive Group.

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