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Make your unforgettable travel story

Toast to 25 years of Citi credit cards and MasterCard: MasterCard senior business leader/account leader for Citibank Asia-Pacific Saleh Anam, Citi credit payment products director Dave Stoughton, Citi consumer business manager Bea Tan, Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi, MasterCard Philippines country manager Poch Villa-Real, and Citi head of consumer banking for ASEAN and India Anand Selva.

MANILA, Philippines - Something Bea Tan said at a recent luncheon made us realize that Citibank has actually contributed a popular word to the local lexicon: “PayLite,” which has become both a noun (“Do you have PayLite?” at the cashier) and a verb (“Can I PayLite it?” spoken to yourself, looking at another pair of shoes).

The Tagalog word is hulugan and English is “installment,” but even I have found myself asking a store if they offer PayLite when buying big-ticket items like a new AC or a refrigerator.

In fact, this payment scheme was so popular from the get-go that other Citi countries have adopted it too.

Bea, who heads Citi’s consumer banking business in the country, relates that it was 25 years ago, in 1990, when Citi Philippines introduced the Citibank MasterCard, marking the global bank’s entry into the Philippine credit card market. “Back then, Citi was also credited for changing the payment landscape, when it lowered the minimum income requirement to own a credit card, and turned what was once a financial tool only for the elite, into a payment product that empowered middle-income Filipino cardholders.

Citi cardholders get the chance to create new memories in some of the world’s most breathtaking places by using their Citi credit card.

“Those were very exciting first years as we unveiled one product or service after the other, and saw not just our market share grow by leaps and bounds, but also competitors sit up and take notice.  What was most satisfying is that the Filipino consumer is the real winner here.”

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Rewards system? Citi was the first to launch a credit card loyalty program, offering rewards from rebates to miles to shopping credits.

What’s funny is that, both then and now, according to Bea, the electric fan is still the most redeemed item in the rewards catalogue. Sure, you can get miles — but why buy an electric fan when you can get one or three or four for free? 

“When we launched the program, it was so well designed that it set the bar, and we have not needed to make any changes to it since,” adds Bea.

Citi’s Rewards Program lets clients think of three options when they pay: credit card, points or cash? “In this day and age when consumer trends and preferences change as fast as news travels, it’s a real challenge to keep track of what customers want and to make sure these are met — and at Citi, we strive to meet this challenge each day,” she says.

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi says, “We are extremely proud of our legacy of success here in the Philippines, particularly in our consumer banking business led by our credit cards. As the world’s largest issuer of credit cards, we bring our experience and expertise across the globe in providing and anticipating the credit payment needs of our clients here in the country with the help of our partners like MasterCard.”

Citi, the country’s largest foreign bank, and MasterCard recently launched “My Unforgettable Story,” which runs until August 2015. It gives cardholders the chance to create new memories when they travel by using their Citi credit card.

Bea says, “In designing this promotion, we wanted to break the mold and ensure that our clients are truly engaged from day one. We wanted to reward our loyal cardholders with delightful and unique experiences, and empower them with making the best choice from a list of impossible-to-resist selections according to their lifestyle and preferences.”

My Unforgettable Story will choose 15 cardholders in three raffle draws — with five winners in each set. The first set of winners can choose one of the “Stories of Discovery” prizes, including a gourmet food tour in Japan, journey to self-discovery in Bali, scuba diving in Palau, and China or Egypt exploration.

The second raffle draw winners can have a spectacular celebration of love as they can choose one of the “Stories of Romance” prizes such as a honeymoon in Maldives, island escapade in Thailand or hot air balloon date in Dubai. Winners can also have their dream wedding gown designed by a top couturier, or make their most romantic proposal happen.

The third set of winners can choose from “Stories of Adventure” prizes like a family ski adventure in Korea, a US theme park getaway, Mediterranean cruise, African safari and the magical Aurora Borealis experience.

Citi Philippines credit payments head David Stoughton says, “It’s so easy to win — just use your card for any purchase, regardless of amount, and you will earn raffle entries. And because we want all our cardholders to have a chance to win, we are awarding raffle entries for nearly every use of a Citi card: from using Citibank Online to charging with Citi PayLite, and even when you apply for a personal loan.”

Batara Sinaturi also reminded everyone that Citi is very much in a position to lead banking into the digital age. “We strongly believe the future is digital.  Around the world, we actively promote the transition to digital money.  We are a global company doing business in 160 countries and jurisdictions, deeply embedded in over 700 cities and serving about 200 million customer accounts with hundreds of products and services,” declared Sianturi.

In Asia alone, Citi has over seven million digital banking registered users and nearly 98 percent of all transactions in this region now take place outside the branch, or via non-branch channels. “That’s roughly 20 million digital banking transactions a month in Asia — and the trend is expected to double in five years.”

In the Philippines, 47 percent of Citi customers are registered users of digital banking. Over the last decade, Citi has seen consistent growth in terms of the number of users of both the Citibank Online and Citibank Mobile Banking platforms year on year. 

Bea adds, “At Citi, we want our clients to have a remarkable experience each and every time they choose to pay with our credit cards. Our investments in the digital space, and partnership with trusted payment solutions provider MasterCard, afford us the opportunity to deliver again and again on this promise.”

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To see the complete list of prizes and ways to qualify for the promotion, log on to www.citibank.com.ph/mystory.

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