While trying to leverage technology for a public good, Citigroup is reaching out to some of the most prominent fintech players as it believes that technology innovation can only be accelerated through partnerships. Citi has recently announced the Cities Tech for Integrity Challenge (T4I) inspired by the goal to encourage technology innovators from around the world to create cutting-edge solutions to promote integrity, accountability and transparency in the public sector and beyond.

The history of the public-private distinction is perhaps as old as the history of sharing responsibilities between the two sectors. Public and private sectors in any given industry have been developing simultaneously largely influencing one another. While improving mechanisms for more efficient cooperation is still a long way to go, the solution may be laying right in front of us - just grab it.

As David Craig, President of Financial and Risk commented during the panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos:

“Not a single player can solve problems in the industry on their own, actors actually have to work together. And we see the increase in discussions and partnership projects between different industry players, which is a good thing already.”

What is Cities Tech for Integrity Challenge exactly?

The T4I challenge is designed to improve an access of public sector entities to tech innovators and their ideas on how to increase transparency and efficiency. In turn, innovators get support and an infrastructure to move their ideas to the implementation stage to build a better and a more transparent world.

Government transactions and procurement, culture, ethics and citizen engagement, information security and identity are the key areas where challenge designers are seeking to facilitate progress through technology.

The program is believed to change the integrity paradigm and demonstrate the power of scaled public-private partnerships.

Julie Monaco, Global Head of the Public Sector Group, says:

“By supporting open innovation and providing innovators with the tools they need to develop ideas, we hope to solve some of the biggest challenges that the public sector faces.”

Support and mentoring from tech giants

Some of the high profile companies have already expressed their interest in being a part of T4I challenge, including Clifford Chance, Facebook, IBM, Let’s Talk Payments, Mastercard, Microsoft and PwC.

Mary Tafuri, Director at IBM Developer Technology and Advocacy, notes that the company is excited to help the public sector use cognitive, cloud and Blockchain technologies to drive innovation and increase efficiencies and transparency.

Some participants of the challenge will get a chance to be a part of a virtual accelerator program, which will provide mentoring, curriculum and infrastructure support to help innovators develop their proposals.

Finalists of the challenge will showcase their projects at one of the demo days in cities around the world, including Buenos Aires, Dublin, Hyderabad, Mexico City and Singapore.

A need for a strong public-private partnership

Everything related to verification – licenses, permits, various types of transactions, processes, events – could easily be backed up with Blockchain, as it enables managing and monitoring those in a simple and secure way. But this leads us to where we started from - the need for cooperation.

Technology giants and startups along with the public sector all have something valuable - inside knowledge and experience. So why not to put it all on the table and design a product for the citizens, while also saving time, energy and money for themselves?

A study done by Procivis and coordinated by Professor Dr. Alexander Trechsel of the Zurich-based consulting firm Xupery has demonstrated that successful delivery of digital public services begins with full political support. It requires a clear strategy and timeline, which can only be developed within a strong public-private partnership.