Citi, short for Citigroup Inc., is a New York City-based financial services corporation and investment bank. Citi has several different divisions, including capital-raising needs; corporate and investment banking; markets and securities services; retail services; commercial banking; and real estate mortgages. 

Humble Beginnings

Citi was officially formed back on October 8th, 1998, after merging Citicorp and Travelers Group with a $140 billion merger. 

Of course, the company’s history goes back further than the merger. In fact, Citicorp began in 1812 as the City Bank of New York. The company name changed to The National City Bank of New York in 1865 after joining brand new U.S. national banking system, and it later became the first contributor to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

The Evolution Of A Name

The company underwent another name change to The First National City Bank of New York in 1955, which was later shortened to First National City Bank on the company’s 150th anniversary in 1962. 

In 1967, the bank reorganized and became First National City Corporation, the nickname of which was “Citicorp”. That wasn’t the first nickname the company used, though; they had taken the nickname “Citibank” back in the 1860s when the bank began using the name as a wire code address. 

Multi-Industry, Multi-National

The brand started off serving New York merchants and was initially run by Samuel Osgood, a merchant and statesman from New England. Throughout its history, Citi has proved incredibly adaptable, expanding as necessary to fit the changing needs of a nation and the world. 

The company has worked in several industries and in many different global markets, including: 

  • Credit
  • Commercial banking 
  • Investment banking 
  • Financial services
  • Retail banking 
  • Private banking
  • Cash and wealth management
  • Online banking
  • Financial technology
  • Consumer lending

Fitting Today’s Needs

The brand maintains its relevance with a number of online and mobile banking opportunities, as well as sustainability initiatives such as Citi Bike, a public bicycle sharing system in New York. 

Brand Competition

As with any large company, however, Citigroup certainly has its competitors. These top competitors include such brands as The Royal Bank of Scotland, a British banking and insurance company that was founded in 1727, nearly 100 years before the founding of Citi. 

Other notable competitors include: 

  • HSBC, founded in 1865
  • Wells Fargo, founded in 1852
  • JP Morgan Chase, founded in 2000
  • CIT, founded in 1908
  • State Bank of India, founded in 1806
  • Bank of America, founded in 1804

Citigroup And Lobbying

A large part of Citi’s history and current visibility has to do with its efforts in public and government relations, particularly lobbying. It’s estimated that between 1998 and 2014, the brand spent upwards of $100 million lobbying the federal government, and was one of the largest political campaign donors in the US. 

The brand’s lobbying efforts aren’t anything particularly new, though. In fact senior members of Citigroup donated over $23 million dollars to political campaigns between 1998 and 2006. 

Economic Troubles

Citi has been in the news more as of recently as employee cuts and a suffering bond market have meant tough times for the company. As of the beginning of this summer, it was estimated that nearly 400 people at Citi locations would be losing their jobs. 

This isn’t the first time that Citi has seen something like this, either; during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, it had to let go of over 100,000 employees. 

Even so, the brand is ranked 30th on the Fortune 500 and continues to do business with over 200 million customer accounts in more than 160 countries. 

Expansion And Success

Overall, it’s clear that the history of Citi proves that the company has the ability to adapt and overcome. As it has expanded into several different industries and stayed relevant through political and environmental means, the brand has become a household name and continues to remain a banking giant.