x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Al Ain customers hit by Citibank closure

Closest branch about 100km away after city unit is shut down. Expert says closure should not affect customers who use e-banking while bank states one stop solutions available at Mussaffah branch for affected customers.

DUBAI // Citibank customers in Al Ain will be forced to make a return trip of about 200 kilometres for services after the bank closed its branch in the city last month.

Citibank informed customers about the opening of a branch in Mussaffah, resulting in the end of operations in Al Ain city on November 15.

"Please be informed that our Al Ain branch will be relocating to Mussaffah, which is a new development area in Abu Dhabi."

The closure comes after the bank's announcement of 11,000 job cuts worldwide in an attempt to increase efficiencies and focus on growth in emerging markets.

Citibank, the third-biggest international bank operating in the UAE, said it planned to open a new branch in Abu Dhabi.

It is also moving its Salam Street branch to the Al Kheyeli Building on Al Falah Street in the capital.

Citibank officials were unavailable for comment yesterday regarding the number of customers that will be affected and whether employees were laid off in the closure.

A notice on its website said that the new branch in Mussaffah would provide "one stop" solutions in smart banking to customers "such as interactive touch panels, real-time online banking and an entire spectrum of product suites".

Muhannad Beisky, a business professor and independent investment consultant from Al Ain, said it was not surprising that the United States bank pulled out of the city as more local banks opened for business.

"Citibank may not have a huge customer base, which makes running a fully fledged branch here impractical," said Mr Beisky.

"There are more than 25 different banks in Al Ain city and each has more than two or three branches. The market is satisfied with the banking services available."

Mr Beisky said that the closure would not affect too many customers because many had opted for ebanking.

"That is the solution and the more diversified it becomes there is no need to run a physical office in areas with fewer customers," he said.

He added that customers were also looking for banks they could access at convenient locations such as shopping centres.

"A lot of banks like National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Al Hilal have opened in malls and that makes them convenient," Mr Beisky said.