Citibank Korea Inc. said Tuesday its net profit for the first quarter of this year rose 6.7 percent on-year, helped by stringent cost-cutting efforts.
Citibank Korea, the South Korean unit of Citigroup Inc., posted a net profit of 73 billion won (US$6.8 million) for the January-March quarter.
Its net interest margin (NIM), a measurement of profitability, climbed 0.08 percentage point on-quarter to 2.78 percent last quarter, the bank said.
Citibank Korea has closed 90 of its 126 retail-banking branches as part of its cost-cutting efforts.
The bank's capital adequacy ratio also rose 0.01 percentage point on-quarter to 18.94 percent at the end of March.
Citibank Korea's non-performing loan ratio stood at 0.55 percent at the end of March.
In a statement, Park Jin-hei, chief executive of Citibank Korea, attributed solid earnings at the bank's division for corporate clients to the gain in first-quarter net profit . Park graduated from Seoul National University. He once served as Senior Executive Vice President of Corporate Banking Group at Citigroup.
More recently, Park took initiative in carrying out a promotion that gives gifts to its VIP customers. Those who open a bank or investment account online and maintain a minimum balance of 50 million won ($46,659) are beneficiaries of the program.
The promotion, which began March 9, however, excludes those who already had an account at Citibank before Feb. 28
Those who open a bank or investment account via Citibank's online channels, including the internet and mobile devices, to become Citi Priority customers and maintain the status by the end of this month will receive two mobile coupons to use at Incheon International Airport VIP Lounge. The bank will also give coupons to exempt customers from foreign currency transaction commissions.
If they maintain their VIP status to the end of June, Citibank said it will provide a Shinsegae Department Store mobile gift card worth 50,000 won.
"The promotion is for our new customers who have yet to experience Citibank's differentiated asset management services," said a Citibank official.
"Citibank is introducing not only its saving program but also various investment programs via online. Please contact the Citi Priority Center at 02-2289-2200 for more information."
He added the bank's Multi Asset Class fund program will be helpful in establishing a well-balanced asset portfolio especially for Citi Priority customers.
The promotion ended March 31.
Marking its 50th anniversary in Korea last year, Citibank introduced the Citi New PremierMiles credit card in November.
The new card, based on affiliations with major airlines at home and abroad, offers a high level of air miles, evergreen Citi NEW PremierMiles, and diverse redemption programs.
It offers one PremierMile for every 1,000 won spent with the card, regardless of the prior month's spending. And one PremierMile can be converted to 1.2 Korean Air miles or 1.6 Asiana Airlines miles.
In addition, a free shuttle service to Incheon International Airport, previously unavailable, is offered twice a year, and dining services at Incheon International Airport, previously provided once a month, will be offered twice a month.
Local banks reduced their workforces and branch offices last year by the greatest number since 2000, with digitalization-driven downsizing accelerating, data from the financial regulator showed Sunday.
The number of employees in the banking sector at the end of last year totaled 111,173, down 3,602 from the previous year, according to the data from the Financial Statistics Information System operated by the regulator Financial Supervisory Service. The level of downsizing is the biggest since 5,202 back in 2000.
In comparison, the decrease in employees was 1,890 in 2015 and 2,248 in 2016.
Industry officials say the workforce contraction is heavily due to intensive restructuring at the five leading commercial banks. KB Kookmin Bank, Shinhan Bank, Woori Bank, KEB Hana Bank and Nonghyup together let go of 4,841 employees, the data showed.
KB Kookmin, for instance, reduced its workforce by 2,592 people last year, the biggest number among all banks, with 2,795 leaving through voluntary retirement in January.
The number of branches decreased at an even greater scale. The banks had 6,790 branch offices at end-2017, down 312 from the previous year. It was the biggest decrease since record keeping began in 1999.
Citibank, which had 133 branches, reduced them to 44. Hana closed 87 branches, while KB Kookmin shuttered 71.
Customer preference for mobile and Internet banking will push these trends further, industry officials say, reducing the demand for manpower and physical spaces.
Data from the Bank of Korea said Internet banking transactions accounted for 83.9 percent in the fourth quarter last year, compared with 10.1 percent in over-the-counter transactions.