Heather Cox, the chief executive of Citigroup's financial technology unit and a key executive behind the bank's early embrace of wearable technology for payments and other financial services, is headed to USAA, an institution with a military-heavy client base that relies on digital transactions.

Cox will serve as chief technology and digital officer at the San Antonio-based USAA. It's a newly created role that includes the oversight of information technology, digital strategy and operations, and experience design.

Cox is expected to assume her new role this fall, according to USAA. Yolande Piazza, the chief operating officer of Citi FinTech, will assume interim responsibility for Cox's duties.

"Heather's appointment reinforces our service commitment in fast-moving areas like digital, technology and user experience," said Stuart Parker, chief executive of USAA, in a press release. "She's the right leader to take us where we're going."

In the same release, Cox said, "USAA is known for innovating and delivering an excellent member experience for the military community."

Cox joined Citi in 2014, also in a newly created role, from Capital One. In 2015, she was named American Banker's Digital Banker of the Year and was No. 7 on American Banker's list of The 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking.

Among her accomplishments, Cox oversaw the launch of an app for a wearable device her team built in 120 days using Apple's developer toolkit. Cox also created innovation events to hear pitches from global software developers; and led the bank as it became one of the first in the U.S. allowing customers to check their account balances and transactions on a mobile app without having to type in user names and passwords.

In a memo to Citi staffers, Stephen Bird, the chief executive of the global consumer bank, thanked Cox for her contributions to the company's digital transformation during her tenure.

"She embraced our vision to become a true mobile business, championed working in new ways to improve speed to market and pursued every avenue to make the experience we deliver simpler, better and faster," Bird wrote in the memo.


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