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“ Hi everyone. Jason Goldberg here, founder and ceo of fabulis.
In a bit of strange and disturbing news, fabulis discovered today that someone(s) at Citibank had decided arbitrarily to block fabulis’ bank account due to what was described to us on the phone as “objectionable content” on our blog. In fact, the account — it turns out — was blocked a few days ago without anyone letting us know about it by phone or email.Huh?
Mind you, fabulis is a serious business, backed by some serious players, and for the life of us we can’t find anything “objectionable” on our blog besides some good humor, some business insights, and some touching coming out stories from some great and fabulis gay people. So, what gives? And wtf. When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with them? Calls into Citibank tonight resulted in a temporary lifting of the block while a compliance officer is asked to re-review our website on Thursday. Stay tuned … we’ll update you on this shocker as we learn more.
I promise you that if we do not get a good response to this on Thursday we are moving our bank account to a bank that respects and appreciates our business.”
1 2 3 4 Citi averages 2 banking blogs an hour Citi averages 7 banking tweets an hour 2 1 3 TechCrunch posts a blog titled, “Does Citi suffer from Homophobia or just a General Dislike for Start Ups?” Twitter dialogue begins as result of the story and grows as other influential financial and tech bloggers post; topic trends on twitter & appears a top story for business in google blog search Conversation ebbs & flows as Citi unsuccessfully attempts to resolve the situation & the story is covered by the Huffington Post; Users continue to discuss on twitter and some write their own responses in blogs Conversation spikes again as Citi issues a formal apology that fabulis accepts Dialogue stagnates as users debate whether Citi is sincere and whether or not they have unjustly denied other businesses. General traffic is down due to the weekend and user conversation being driven primarily by the Chilean earthquake Dialogue peaks again as updated coverage is released by TechCrunch, GigaOm and other blogs 4 5 2/26 2/27 2/28 3/1 Blog posts shared mixed views on policy changes and led to reinvigorated twitter dialogue 5 6 6
“ Citibank Message About Internet Business Accounts
At Citibank, we have learned a great deal from recent customer issues related to Internet business accounts. Mistakes were made in some instances, in which we apologized and corrected the problem. These issues made it clear to us that the language in our branch procedures was not specific enough and left too much room for interpretation from one account to the next.
We recognized that we needed clearer and less subjective guidelines with regard to opening Internet business accounts. And there were clearly gaps in training and communications around these specific branch procedures. Based on all these learnings, we’ve taken action and this week we updated and clarified our procedures for opening all Internet business accounts.
Banks are required by law to conduct due diligence and understand the nature of business accounts. For Internet business accounts, we have made it clearer to our bankers what the due diligence process entails. For example, we will continue to reserve the right to decline or suspend an account if we find illegal or discriminatory content, or if the site involves gambling or pornography. Beyond that specific due diligence, however, we do not monitor or evaluate our customers’ web content.
We are providing additional training in this area to ensure the procedures are uniformly and correctly followed. Also, our bankers are now required to have additional consultation with senior level banking executives when questions arise about these accounts before making any final decisions. This will help to avoid misunderstanding and subjective decisions, and promote greater consistency throughout the process. And we remain committed to working with our customers to try to resolve any issues.
As a global organization, we also recognize the power and promise of diversity. In that spirit, we reiterate Citi’s commitment to serving customers, hiring talent and supporting a broad array of organizations that promote diversity. To learn more about our diversity efforts, please visit: http://www.citigroup.com/citi/citizen/diversity/index.htm.
These recent customer issues have been a useful learning experience for us. We again apologize for any misunderstandings that may have occurred. We are committed to improving every day and we’re working to better” serve our customers.