Your Last Call | International Treasury Management Virtual Week | September 27 – October 1

22-09-2021 | Eurofinance | treasuryXL |

It’s free, It’s Virtual…

International Treasury Management is the annual meeting place for 1000s of the World’s most senior treasurers to learn and share experiences in valuable peer to peer discussions. With a reputation for ground-breaking sessions and world-class speakers, our 30th anniversary event will explore the boundaries of the profession, take a glimpse into the future of business, treasury and working life as well as offer the practical case studies on the treasurer’s top agenda items.

Only one treasury event can deliver the comprehensive mix of big picture global insight and granular treasury knowledge you need to make the right choices for the future.


Back to the future, again

Over the past 30 years since EuroFinance’s inaugural conference on International Cash and Treasury Management, much has changed. Treasurers have firmly become business partners, technology experts, risk managers and opportunity spotters. They often lead fundamental change within the company as markets, business models and technology shifts.

What next? This event will delve into how treasury operations can gear up for the future, having learned the lessons from the past. Where, who, what and how will the corporate be in the coming years and what is treasury’s role?

Keynote sessions will offer big-picture insight alongside themed streams including:

  • Payments revisited
  • Risks and Rewards
  • Digital strategies
  • Practical solutions to day-to-day Treasury challenges
  • The power of partnership

What makes International Treasury Management the must-attend event of the year?

  • networking on a global scale – a significant rise in attendees in 2020 boosted the value networking with banks, providers and potential clients… all in one place
  • strategic insights and best practices – get solutions to the challenges you face from treasury and economic experts during keynotes, practical case studies, fireside chats, analytical panels and more
  • future trends – delve into the latest innovations and new technology driving change in treasury, and their practical applications
  • live Q&A with world-class treasurers – enjoy borderless networking and live Q&As with high-profile speakers directly after each session
  • cost and time-efficiency – tune in form anywhere in the world, at the click of a button with no long distance travel or accommodation costs
  • continued learning – catch up on any missed sessions and re-watch your highlights, on demand for up 2 months after the event
  • unite your international teams – as a free event, it offers an opportunity for your whole treasury team to attend. Perfect for encouraging learning and development at all levels

September 27th – October 1st | Virtual

Register Now for Free!

 

 

Readying Treasury for Hybrid Work

20-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way treasury departments and companies operate is a massive understatement. Treasury, a function already accustomed to ‘doing more with less,’ began operating remotely—often with a skeleton crew as companies were forced to reduce headcount.

Once mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine began, companies quickly began to strategise over what their post-pandemic workforce might look like. While the rise of the Delta variant has thrown a wrench into many organisations’ plans to reopen, eventually, that new work model will take shape. And it might look drastically different than what has come before.

Here are a few things to consider.

A hybrid work environment will very likely be the new normal.

Research from Harvard Business Review found that 70 percent of companies—including giants like Google, Citi and HSBC—are moving to a hybrid model. Just as treasury teams needed to adapt quickly to operating from home, now they’ll have to adjust to having some team members in the office while others are remote.

CFOs have an eye on emerging technologies.

The remote working environment brought on by the pandemic prompted, or perhaps forced, many organisations to digitise their processes. In a hybrid work environment (that could revert back to a fully remote one if COVID-19 variants continue to emerge), finance chiefs will continue to call for better technological solutions. New research from Gartner found that 82 percent of CFOs plan to increase investments in digital capabilities. CFOs named artificial intelligence (AI) as the technology that they expect to have the most impact over the next three years. Kyriba users can apply AI and machine learning (ML) to key cash management tasks like reconciling prior day bank files with their expected cash positions. For organisations that process high volumes of transactions, handling this process manually can take hours. Kyriba’s solution can identify and resolve discrepancies in minutes, and it learns from the data so that eventually, little to no human interaction is required.

Treasury’s role expanded considerably throughout the COVID-19 crisis. 

More than 80 percent of treasury professionals said that greater value was assigned to treasury during the pandemic, according to the 2020 AFP Strategic Role of Treasury Survey. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of respondents believe that treasury’s role will continue to be of greater significance. To maintain that influence over other, other departments, treasury professionals may need to revisit their soft skills. Just as employees may have faced difficulty giving presentations over Zoom, they may also find presenting in-person or to a mix of in-person and remote employees to be equally challenging.

Regional treasury centers might no longer need to be regional. 

While it can be convenient to house a treasury center to manage cash and FX hedging in a region with unique regulations, the COVID-19 pandemic may prompt organisations to rethink that approach. Since the onset of the pandemic, those remote working has surged; the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research found that 42 percent of the U.S. labor force currently works from home. And perhaps more importantly, it’s been incredibly successful for both employers and workers, according to PwC’s U.S. Remote Work Survey. Ultimately, this could mean that treasury teams may no longer see a need to centralise their operations regionally even after the pandemic ends.

Continuous remote work means fraud threats will remain elevated.

According to the 2021 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, business email compromise (BEC) scams increased last year. This was likely due to the remote work environment making it more difficult to verify emails with colleagues. Security will continue to be paramount for treasury, particularly if it moves to a permanent model where some employees regularly work from home. Treasury teams will need to continue to use strong controls like multifactor authentication, single sign-on and virtual private networks to ensure that only the appropriate people have access to their systems. Additionally, treasury employees must be even more meticulous about setting approvals for payments so that fraud attempts will be thwarted. With Kyriba Payment Fraud Detection, treasury can stop fraud in real-time. Users can set pre-defined detection rules, to screen for suspicious transactions. Additionally, ML algorithms can identify and quarantine dubious payments for further review.

The cloud provides a failsafe for business continuity planning (BCP). 

Cloud-based treasury management systems aren’t only efficient modules to help treasury teams track cash and liquidity. They are also a key cog in BCP. Cloud-based solutions like Kyriba’s are hosted offsite in multiple locations, allowing your treasury department to function regardless of whether your team is working in the office or from a dozen different locations. So even if a new COVID-19 variant emerges, treasury teams can continue to function without interruption.

Making a Game Plan

While it’s unclear how soon offices will begin opening back up en masse, now is the time for treasury teams to begin planning for the shift. When the pandemic first hit, treasury functions had to respond quickly, and they did as best they could. Pivoting in this next phase won’t be seamless, but with the right protocols and technology in place, treasury teams can make smooth transitions.

Strategic Treasurer’s Analyst Report Series: Treasury and Risk Management Systems

06-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

This document contains a comprehensive illustration of the current state of treasury technology and the exciting future direction using new tools that are already with us. This FinTech analyst report from Strategic Treasurer takes a look at the current health of the TMS space and what benefits can come from implementing a treasury management system in your operations. Additionally, this report covers emerging technologies within treasury, such as the use of robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and more.

Understand the current TMS space and its benefits

The Treasury and Risk Management Systems Analyst Report offers a thorough evaluation of the TMS space by covering the emerging uses of AI/ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning), RPA (robotic process automation), and API (application programming interface) technologies in treasury.

It also discusses:

  • The place of a TMS/TRMS in business continuity planning and preparing for disruption and volatility
  • The best practices and proper mindsets for avoiding pitfalls in selecting, making a business case for, and implementing treasury technology
  • The varied ways in which these solutions address the day-to-day pain points and inefficiencies of treasury departments

Download it now!

A Culture of Fraud Prevention: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility

23-08-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

It seems like every day there is a new fraud headline. As a result, companies are learning that preventing fraud needs to be a responsibility of all employees in the organisation. To prevent fraud, an organisation needs to focus on education through training, standardized controls, and IT policies on top of a strong technology solution.

The threat of fraud has grown dramatically in recent years. In fact, according to the 2021 AFP Fraud and Control Study, overall, 74% of companies have experienced fraud or attempted fraud. Your organisation needs to be prepared and Treasury activities need to support identifying and preventing fraud. Recently, I had a conversation with a Treasurer who said, “if it’s (fraud) not on your mind in Treasury, you’ve already lost”. He went on to talk about how much more difficult it is to manage fraud when you have a decentralized Treasury team.

Best in class fraud prevention is about having a strong overall ecosystem, culture and technology – the fabric of an organisation. Fraud prevention must be top of mind for everyone in the company. Specific training should be included in introductory orientation as well as ongoing training and annual awareness campaigns. Individuals need to be able to identify potential phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) campaigns to ensure they don’t become victims.  It only takes one person to make a poor judgment call to allow access into a company’s system. It’s also important to consider cultural differences for offices in other parts of the world. Fraudsters are taking advantage of cultural norms. In some Asian countries it’s natural to defer to individuals with seniority. For example, receiving a message from the CFO to make a payment wouldn’t normally be questioned. Make sure that all individuals have a way to share, escalate and/or stop a transaction when there could be potential problems.

Standardised procedures are essential. With BEC, fraudsters assume that using the name and email of senior members of the management team, such as the CEO or CFO, will cause employees lower in the organisational hierarchy to do as instructed without question. To combat this, it is imperative that the procedures set up require strict adherence, and that senior management provides an environment where fewer senior members of the team are comfortable asking whether a payment is legitimate. If multiple ERP systems exist, ensure that consistent approval processes are in place across all systems. For smaller regional offices, set up procedures and approvals to ensure that separation of duties is in place and that you have visibility to the activities in remote offices. Some fraudsters like to target attacks on regional offices in hopes of bypassing some of the more stringent processes that are in place at headquarters.

 

Having an IT focus on fraud prevention and policies that support these efforts is also essential. IT should ensure that employees are password protected and that their passwords aren’t easily guessed. They should maintain strong firewalls and keep current on technology to identify potential hacker activity. In addition, it is helpful to randomly test employees with phishing emails to assist employees in recognizing fraudulent emails.

Finally, technology solutions to identify fraud are a critical component of fraud prevention. Solutions should include rules-based fraud detection that identifies multiple scenarios, for example situations where a vendor bank account number has changed. These transactions should be flagged and sent for validation. An individual should call the company using a phone number that is listed in the system of record. Or, the transaction should be sent for account verification allowing for confirmation that the bank account is owned by the organisation that is to be paid, and not some fraudulent entity. Account verification is a new tool that is being added to rules engines. It allows you to increase your confidence that the account is owned by the entity with which you have a relationship without having the time-consuming process of having to reach out to the entity directly to verify. The verification is quick and doesn’t slow down legitimate payments. Your fraud technology solution should also identify other fraud situations that you and a community of your peers have experienced or considered.

Machine learning to identify payment anomalies based on transaction history is also critical. It allows for patterns to be identified in the immense amounts of transactional data that your organisation has accumulated and then to match that in real-time to your specific transactions to identify potential fraud. This added layer of protection looks for behaviours that may not be identified by the human eye – timing of invoice receipt or change in the frequency of payment requests. The system continually adapts based on the information that it is tracking and provides suggestions when it identifies potentially fraudulent behavior.

Fraudsters continue to attack since they only need to find that one weak link on one day with a single person in your organisation. It’s up to you to make sure that the individuals in your company are prepared for the attack. Ensure that you have a training program that helps your employees identify potential fraud attempts. Define, monitor and enforce policies that support segregation of duties and consistent processes throughout the organisation. Confirm that your IT department is staying on top of technology that identifies and prevents hackers and supports best practices when establishing policies across the organisation. Last, but certainly not least, make sure that you are utilizing best-in-class technology to identify potentially fraudulent payments to stop those payments from going out your door. Some treasury solution providers use the terminology fraud detection tools to refer to having sanction screening or workflow tools in place while others notify you of a fraudulent item after the transaction is sent to the bank. A best-in-class technology solution combines workflow tools and approvals in addition to a robust rules engine and machine learning to identify potentially fraudulent transactions in real-time. Giving you an opportunity to stop any transaction before it leaves your organisation.

Preventing fraud is something that everyone in your organisation needs to commit to in order to prevent fraudsters from being successful.

Cloudiness in Libor Transition?

03-08-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba | Bob Stark

With less than 6 months to go until the transition from Libor to new overnight risk-free rates, uncertainty lingers as to which rate indices are to be adopted in countries such as the United States.

While regulators remain steadfast in their recommendations that risk free rates such as SOFR in the United States and SONIA in the United Kingdom should be the only choice to replace LIBOR, credit-sensitive rates (CSR) including Bloomberg’s proposed BSBY index remain in the conversation for some market participants and influencers. There are several examples of banks offering new contracts based on the BSBY and other CSRs instead of SONIA, in fact.

Arguments for alternative rates

Proponents of credit-sensitive rates such as Bloomberg’s BSBY, AMX’s Ameribor, and HIS Markit’s CRITS suggest that adopting risk free rates such as Sonia does not solve the underlying transparency issues that plagued Libor in the first place. Bloomberg market experts, such as Umesh Gajria, Global Head of Linked Products, have been referenced arguing that robustness of the highly liquid market instruments supporting their calculated index make BSBY, amongst other proposed indices, resilient to manipulation. Regulators in the UK and US do not agree, stating that the market only needs one replacement for Libor and that replacement must be free of risk and market influence.

Time is running out

Whether SOFR prevails or whether a mix of Libor replacement options remain available to corporate CFOs, with less than 6 months remaining until Libor is discontinued, this rate uncertainty is one of the contributing factors explaining why corporates have yet to transition most of their USD contracts away from Libor. While certain Libor USD tenors will continue to be published into 2023, no new contracts in the United States can be based on Libor effective January 1, 2022. Corporate CFOs are running out of time for a solution to move away from Libor.

Treasury systems support all outcomes

Despite the challenges that corporate treasury teams will continue to experience as they sort out which rates should be used in collaboration with their banks and counterparties, FinTech firms including treasury management systems are prepared for any outcome.

Kyriba offers complete Libor transition support within its cloud solution, including backward-looking compounding calculations, amortizations, and online availability for in-advance and in-arrears risk-free and credit-sensitive rates.

If you have questions or concerns, please reach your dedicated Kyriba representative to setup a consultation with our market teams.

Press release | Kantox joins the treasuryXL community as Premium Partner

28-07-2021 | treasuryXL | Kantox

treasuryXL announces partnership with Kantox to strengthen dissemination of the latest trends about currency management automation technology

VENLO, The Netherlands, July 28, 2021 – treasuryXL, the community platform for everyone who is active in the world of treasury, and Kantox, the global leader in currency management automation software, today announced the signature of a premium partnership.

This partnership will create a new content resource for the treasuryXL community. Treasurers will now have access to a regular stream of insightful and practical content on currency management automation. This partnership includes:

● Collaboration on messaging, content production, and visibility
● Mutual distribution on select items of interest
● Collaboration on larger themes: event promotion, speaking and experts contribution, publications

Through this partnership, treasuryXL and Kantox are striving to ensure that treasurers are always up to date with the latest news and events in their field.

About treasuryXL

treasuryXL started in 2016 as a community platform for everyone who is active in the world of treasury. Their extensive and highly qualified network consists of experienced and aspiring treasurers. treasuryXL keeps their network updated with daily news, events and the latest treasury vacancies.

treasuryXL brings the treasury function to a higher level, both for the inner circle: corporate treasurers, bankers & consultants, as well as others that might benefit: CFO’s, business owners, other people from the CFO Team and educators.

treasuryXL offers:

● professionals the chance to publish their expertise, opinions, success stories, distribute these and stimulate dialogue.
● a labour market platform by creating an overview of vacancies, events and treasury education.
● a variety of consultancy services in collaboration with qualified treasurers.
● a broad network of highly valued partners and experts.

About Kantox

Kantox is a leader in Currency Management Automation software that enables corporates to effectively manage their FX workflow and leverage currencies for growth. Since 2011, Kantox’s expertise and solutions have allowed businesses to collect FX exposure data and automate their hedging, pricing, payment and collection processes.

The company is headquartered in London and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (reference number 580343) and Kantox European Union, S.L. is based in Barcelona and authorised by the Bank of Spain (reference number 6890) For more information, visit www.kantox.com, @Kantox LinkedIn.

 

GO TO PARTNER PROFILE

E-Book: ERP Migration | How to Simplify and Accelerate Bank Integration

14-07-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

ERP cloud migration is a costly and time-consuming undertaking, particularly where IT is concerned – and for many corporations, the bank integration exercise can be among the most daunting aspects of the project.

The good news is that companies can simplify and accelerate the bank integration component of ERP migration, and reduce payment connectivity and format costs by up to 80%.

In this latest ebook, you will learn about the IT challenges involved in the bank integration element of ERP cloud migration, including:

  • Following banks’ schedules
  • Navigating geographical variations
  • SWIFT certification
  • Resourcing challenges

You’ll also find out how you can reduce the need for IT resources while minimizing costs, reducing complexity and accelerating the bank integration project.

Fill out this form to get your copy of the comprehensive eBook.

 

 

How a Treasurer can really add Value

28-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

”The pandemic has boosted automation in treasury departments and led to big increases in productivity. But that is only the start. The big prize is the value that treasury teams can generate with the man-hours that automation frees up”, says Bob Stark, Head of Marketing Strategy at Kyriba.

The Post-Pandemic Treasurer

The post-pandemic world will not be a return to the previous status quo. In treasury we can look at this in three ways – people, process and technology.

In terms of people, a recent survey showed that 61% of CFOs expect their teams to be working out of the office at least a day a week in future (source: fortune.com 2020). In some ways the combination of working from home and in the office will pose its own problems, with different opportunities for fraud and mistakes. At least working from home all the time provided some consistency! Furthermore, many of the changes that treasury teams had to make suddenly last year will now become permanent.

Now let’s look at processes. Fully 78% of CFOs have changed inefficient workflows during the pandemic, and 82% intend to keep the changes that they have made in terms of automation and digitisation (source: MasterCard 2020). These changes involve the standardisation, automation and streamlining of multiple processes.

Thirdly, treasurers need to digitise and have an enterprise-wide cloud platform; to leverage analytics to assess and improve decision-making; and then to innovate through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to make treasury a better business partner.

There has also been a change in the role of treasury within companies over the past 15 months. During the pandemic, treasury’s involvement in other areas of the business has increased. A treasurer’s objectives often now include more strategic aims, and the remit is likely to expand still further. In many cases this will involve increased shared responsibilities, for example reverse factoring.

Treasurers are progressing from a simple focus on productivity to making liquidity visible and then participating in strategic decisions that really add value. All of which in turn elevates the value of treasurers within their organisations.

How Treasury can add Value

We can all agree that treasurers have the ability to add value. We regularly see our clients make significant productivity gains in terms of man-hours as they automate residual manual functions. In many cases, automating processes can save over 80% of the man-hours involved (source: Hackett Group).

But that is only part of the story. The real value comes from what the treasury team can do with all those freed-up hours. The extra time gained through improvements in productivity allows them to analyse risks (such as counterparty, liquidity and FX risk) and make better, informed decisions, based on real insight and business intelligence. Or perhaps the extra time that automation has made available can reduce the opportunity for fraud. The common aim is to leverage liquidity to drive business growth and turn treasury into a strategic business partner.

Digitisation plays a big role here, especially in areas like payments, which have remained partially manual, for example in sanctions screening. Smart contracts are also increasing, which makes for other savings.

Measuring the impact

In any such analysis it is essential to be able to measure what you are achieving. That starts with liquidity itself: how much do we have? How far forward can I forecast liquidity? How confident can I be in the accuracy of those forecasts? After all, you can only use the “excess” liquidity within your company when you are confident that you aren’t going to need it!

Digitisation is the way to improve the visibility of your liquidity. You can then test the accuracy of your information and decide how to use that asset. You can do this with a scorecard to measure your company against industry peers and assess your level of maturity, from Ad hoc, through Emerging and Standardising to Strategic. You can then highlight the opportunities for improvement

Many of our clients have done just that. For one client, an 88% improvement in cash management and forecasting – thanks to automation – saved over £1m in net interest by unlocking cash that had been lying idle. It also helped the same client to save over £100K in bank fees.

Another client reduced costs by 85% and used the newly spare man-hours to avoid £1.2m in fraud-related costs. They also accelerated ERP migration by 80%. Other savings might include generating free cashflow or protecting the business against financial loss. But all these achievements start with productivity gains that free up treasury staff to do something more valuable within their organisations.

I will leave you with three thoughts: automation and digitisation are here to stay; productivity is an opportunity, not just a saving; and if you are going to add value as a treasurer, you need to be able to measure that saving.

 

 

Is Digital Cash now King? Enigma tells……

23-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Enigma Consulting |

Get inspired by the extensive and catchy interview with Robert-Jan Wekking about Enigma Consulting. Robert-Jan takes you into the warm corporate culture, mission, expertise, innovation and their continues investment in knowledge with great examples.

Enigma Consulting is a revolutionary knowledge hub in the field of Payments, Digitisation, Risk & Compliance and Treasury. They are a connecting factor in the financial sector thanks to our consultants’ engagement with their clients, both banks and companies and solution providers.

AN INTRODUCTION TO

Robert-Jan has more than 25 years of experience in payment transactions and he advises corporate clients in the areas of treasury, risk management and bank connectivity.He understands the solutions in the market, both from the B2B and B2C perspective.

Robert-Jan switches easily between executive and operational level within companies and the banking sector, as he easily combines his strategic vision with substantive process and product knowledge. He has a wide network with contacts at all (international) banks, which can speed up the implementation of corporates connectivity with their banks.

We asked him 11 questions. Let’s go!

 

INTERVIEW

1. Tell us more about Enigma Consulting and its mission

Enigma Consulting has in-depth knowledge of all ecosystems that are relevant in payments, transaction value chains and financial markets. Transactional connectivity and digitization increase the prosperity and well-being of consumers, companies and the public sector and thus serve a social interest. Our mission is to contribute to the development of efficient digital transaction traffic and to ensure that this is done in an innovative, sustainable, honest and effective manner with controlled business operations. Combined with a correct attitude and behaviour, this contributes to the translation of legislation and regulations into ethical business operations and a better market position. We follow developments closely, research, analyse and make connections. Our consultants reflect, structure and help organisations to achieve their goals.

2. What is the core topic Enigma Consulting aims to address and how does it differentiate it from the other players in the market?

Digitalization is all about the exchange of data, whether these are payments, information, identities, contracts, signatures or any other regular consumer or business transactions. The complexity of exchanging transactions is constantly increasing; regulations, fraud and data protection are just three of the factors impacting this complexity.  On the other hand, innovative technology is continuously providing easier interaction between data, leading to better and integrated business propositions and making client journeys faster, more friction less and safer.  This is exactly in this domain where Enigma operates.  We leverage our in-depth knowledge of payments and transactions to advise and implement.

We distinguish ourselves from other players by looking at the end-to-end value chain, not only from the viewpoint of efficiency but also with a perspective on regulations and compliance. We understand the guiding laws and regulations and can translate them into practical advice to make sure that our clients remain compliant. We recognize that laws and regulations applying to financial institutions are becoming stricter and that attention is now also shifting towards corporates.

Our legal consultants are specialised in transaction and data related legislation, and we have strong connection with for example DNB and AFM in relation to our guidance of our clients.

Our consultancy practice focuses on the  financial-,  corporate- and retail sectors, hence we understand the complexities affecting those areas. With our knowledge of the ecosystems and  vendor solutions we play the matchmaking role between individual client wishes and the solutions available in the market.

This combination of end-to-end view, legislation and compliancy, working in different sectors, and the matchmaker role gives us a unique position. The fact that we not only advise but also take responsibility for  implementations during the past 20 years, makes us a trusted and recognized partner for our clients.

3. Why choose customers for Enigma Consulting?

Our knowledge of payments and other transaction processes is often the starting point for customers to reach out to us. Our capability to advise and implement solutions from an end-to-end perspective is the basis for our interaction with our customers.  Additionally, customers also appreciate the fact that we are able to advise at a strategic level, but at the same time are pragmatic enough to look for feasible and not theoretical answers.

We have strong relationships with a number of our clients, some even stretching back over more than 20 years. This is something we foster, not only by delivering more than what is expected, but also by working closely together. For instance, our Treasury Barometer is an example where we cooperate with the Rabobank, whilst at the same time we are participating in a number of their projects.

At the end, it all comes together with trust, in the quality of delivery, in our people and in the overall relation. This is how we ensure that we will be shortlisted again the next time.

4. What has been the biggest challenge for Enigma Consulting regarding customer projects so far?

The most challenging projects are when we are asked to take end-to-end responsibility for delivering a complete project. Quite often, this means that we have a team onboard and the client is looking at us as lead consultant to get the job done. A good example is the setup of a complete bank payments infrastructure. Apart from the fact that these assignments are exciting and demanding, it is always challenging to make it happen in an environment with its own complexities.

For our individual consultants, stepping into a new assignment always has its own challenges.

Customers ask for us for different reasons, and our consultants have to quickly adapt to start advising the client. This means not only understanding the clients’ business, but primarily building trust relations with the client and their stakeholders. Hence for every consultant the adaptability towards the new environment is always an important challenge.

For myself personally, I am proud to have led a number of strategic programs, like SEPA, Instant Payments and iDIN.  Besides building completely new products, the key challenge is always to work and build bridges between internal and external parties (Banks, DNB, governmental bodies) with sometimes opposing objectives. Working with all these parties and ultimately developing a new product is what makes me happy and proud of my role as consultant.

5. Can you tell us in what sector you see the most innovative developments regarding payments and how does Enigma Consulting react to these?

One of the most exciting aspects of payments is the continuous innovation in the field. However, it is never a revolution but more an evolution. An example are the digital currencies. I believe that in the long run, these might become as important as, or even replace, the current way of paying. But it will take many years to get there. Where it started with the cryptos and Facebook’s Libra, the central banks are now seriously embracing it.

Additionally, the technical transitions to APIs and SaaS, Open Banking and Instant are ingredients for completely new business innovation. Through API and SaaS, corporates can select best in class software modules and integrate them, rather than select single platforms that will still sub-optimise their process. The introduction of Instant Payments in Europe will ultimately change the way the treasurer needs to forecast and manage their accounts.

In the B2C or C2C world, the client journey will continuously improve, seamlessly and friction less, with data integration as a key element.

Through our assignments, we are constantly in the middle of this innovation. For example, we are the leading consultancy firm in the Netherlands for supporting FinTechs, cryptos and payment software companies with their PSD2 application. Our role in digital identity and Mobility as a Service provides us with insights in yet other areas of innovation.

In order to keep all our consultants informed, we have a weekly meeting with our consultants to discuss the latest trends.

We also leverage this knowledge to assist our clients with their questions around innovation. For this purpose, we have initiated the Enigma Innovation Lab, an accelerator environment to answer client specific questions around innovation, vision building or technical solutions by injecting are our own knowledge combined with our ecosystem of solution providers and subject matter specialists, all facilitated by various methodologies like Design Thinking.

6. Do you experience differences in the world of payments before COVID19 and the time we live in now? What are the differences?

The differences are not that when you look at the regular payment products themselves. But we do see COVID as a steppingstone for digitalization. E-commerce and e-commerce payments have shown significant growth and people are spending increasing amounts of time online. The volumes of payments facilitated by Payment Service Providers are going through the roof.

Also “Cash is King” is the phrase that everybody uses, but this should now be “Digital Cash is King”. Volume of physical cash is dropping significantly, being taken over by contactless payments.

I believe these are just indicators for a bigger change, which is the acceptance of the consumer to step into a full mobile journey.

Customers are now more familiar with working with a cashless wallet and seem also to be willing to adapt faster to other contactless, digital processes. Examples are registration, ordering food and payments in restaurants (for example via QR). But also using mobile apps to order your groceries. Clearly, this has already been taking place for many years, but I believe that COVID has accelerated this transformation through necessity.  People are therefore more willing to change their attitude. What is interesting is whether this transformation will continue, or whether people will step backwards to the old normal or step forward to a new normal.

For the retail sector and corporates, before COVID they already had to understand how to become more relevant in the mobile cashless digital world.  COVID is demanding corporates to speed up this thought process.

7. How does the future of payments look like in your perspective? And how will it change the world?

Digital currencies will be an important element in our future, adopted stepwise, and will be overlooked by market systems and regulators. There will be a continuous drive for integrating payments in the client journey, seamless, frictionless and supporting the Internet of Things. Hence payments will be a key enabler of future growth towards the digital world. Digitization is also very attractive for fraudsters, money laundering etc, as your counterpart is not always visible anymore. The need for trustworthy digital identities will be an important building block for this roadmap.

At the same time, the pressure of fraud, regulations and compliance will shift from banks to other parties (corporates) in the end-to-end value chain. Where banks are currently the gatekeeper, corporates will have to integrate this responsibility in their own business processes.

Hence the roadmap to digital, whether it is digital payments, or any other data transaction, will demand continuous change from all parties in the value chain. This will be a stepwise change, but fast enough to need to keep an eye on it.

8. What has been the biggest success for Enigma Consulting?

The biggest success for Enigma is that we have made a transformation from payments “only” to understanding the full transaction, risk and data value chain. For example, we have made a transition from bank payments to treasury payments and risk processes, but also from payments to compliance, and to integrated transactions and data models.

During this period, we have also changed our internal organisation.  We have been running a number of Young Professional Programs. These next generation talents bring us a more diverse view of the world, which makes our proposition to the market stronger and our internal culture more diverse. As a result, we believe that we have the foundation for supporting our clients, now and in the future, with a passion for payments and transactions.

9. How does Enigma Consulting keep on innovating and stay one step ahead of its competitors?

Our ambition is to be recognised as a though leader in the domain of payment and transactions. Investing in knowledge is the basis for our current and future advisory services.

This means that we continuously invest in gaining and sharing knowledge with our consultants and clients. We have organised this in a number of ways.

We have introduced the so-called Theme Lifecycle within Enigma. When we expect a theme becomes relevant for our business, now or the future, we start a workgroup to progress this theme from idea through different stages. It starts with writing a one pager based on study and analysis, called the exploring stage. We validate the readiness for every next stage (exploring, campaigning, harvesting) so that we invest time in those subjects that also become relevant for the market. All our consultants participate in one or more themes, which helps keep them engaged with innovation and market developments.

Every week we organise meetings to discuss news and articles. On turn, every consultant is responsible to select a number of articles to be discussed during this half hour meeting.

For our clients, we have regular Breakfast and Brains meetings to share our insights and to have open discussions on a specific subject. The success is that clients that even might compete in a certain sector, are always willing to learn and share from our and other clients’ experiences.

Finally, we also participate in and cooperate with FinTechs. We support them by leveraging our network of solutions, whilst their innovative ideas are a good source for future improvements, leading to a broader ecosystem that benefits our clients.

10. We are heading to the end of 2020, can you give us an outlook on the scheduled developments for the upcoming year?

The best outlook would be that we leave COVID-19 behind us, however I think that COVID will strongly influence the developments and investments in 2021. There are a number of scheduled developments which will impact corporate clients. Corporates will have to put their capacity in the IBOR Migration.  Also, the transition to XML messages will impact the operating architecture and bank connectivity of corporates.  In parallel, the transition to instant payments including batches will have to be put on the calendar of the finance function.

And in parallel, it is recommended to continue to look at the potential of open banking and further integration of payments data in the corporate business processes. An example is how payment data can improve the risk profiles of insurance companies.

In summary, enough subjects to keep an eye on. Sitting still and waiting is not an option.

11. A great initiative is that Enigma Consulting supports charity projects, what kind of charity projects does Enigma Consulting support, why and how?

The why should never be a discussion, the real discussion is what you can do. One of our activities is the ZEPA challenge.  Our consultants do like sports, and a lot of them love to cycle. When the transition to SEPA was going on, some of our consultants took the initiative for this challenge: cycling from Zeist to Paris in 24 hours. We have done this now 3 times, and a number of our clients’ employees have also participated.  This year’s event was cancelled, but we are already “ready” for the next challenge. There is not a fixed charity goal, the last charity was support for the education of young refugees.

Apart from the above, we have a warm partnership with “Goede Doelen” charity organisations in Netherlands and facilitate a free payments helpdesk for them.

It is of crucial importance to us to participate in an open and honest society, in which diversity and inclusion are critical. This is important for our own culture, as as an organisation we benefit from our consultants and they, in turn, foster these values in their personal lives.

Digital Currencies | Not Ready for Corporate Treasury

15-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

Bitcoin and several cryptocurrencies dropped more than $1 trillion in market value, forcing influencers and investors to walk back their advice on using private digital currencies as a reliable store of value. Kyriba’s Wolfgang Koester discussed what was driving this cryptocurrency volatility with Maria Bartiromo’s “Mornings with Maria” on Fox Business Network on May 24th. “We’re seeing increased rhetoric from the Chinese around a Central Bank Digital Currency and the United States are developing their own digital currency,” said Koester.

Big price swings for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and most recently Dogecoin are nothing new. CFOs and Treasurers have always had little appetite for cryptocurrencies, which is why examples like Tesla investing over $1 Billion USD in Bitcoin made such waves in finance circles. And while Tesla reported a quarterly net income boost of over $100 Million USD on their Bitcoin holdings, their social media savvy CEO has since suggested they will move on from their investment. This reinforces for many why cryptocurrencies are a blip on the radar screen and a bad idea for corporations to be involved with. But…are cryptos really that bad for corporates?

First, it’s more a matter of being “not ready” than bad. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin behave like commodities due to their limited supply; the price volatility is fully explained by the supply/demand imbalance. For example, there is a hard cap of 21 Million Bitcoins and these days there is a lot of demand for Bitcoin! Demand for Bitcoin and other cryptos is driven by everything from social media to a fear of missing out (FOMO) that we are similarly seeing play out in other markets, such as residential real estate or in many tech stocks. Corporates, on the other hand, shy away from volatile assets as they require liquidity for their investments and cryptocurrencies just aren’t there yet. Selling several hundred million (or more) dollars worth of bitcoin or ethereum is a market moving transaction and is difficult to manage through the digital wallets and exchanges that are generally more designed for individuals. So, between the liquidity barriers and the unstable values, corporates still can’t rely on privately issued altcoins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and others until these challenges are overcome.

State-sponsored digital currencies potentially have something to offer, however. As Kyriba’s Wolfgang Koester discussed on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria”, China has made significant advancements in the rollout of the digital yuan, which has further prompted other nation states to accelerate their own digital currency programs. In theory, government-backed digital currencies are expected to offer a striking advantage over the privately issued cryptocurrencies – and that is utility. To have utility, the digital currency must be widely accessible – and be fast and secure. And this is where the Bitcoins of the world are not ready for mainstream use. They aren’t widely accessible, the blockchain “networks” supporting them remain unproven for high transaction volumes, and the value is uncertain and could easily change between the time a seller accepts a cryptocurrency and when they choose to use or exchange them.

Of course there are solutions to each of these individual problems – e.g. the use of stable coins (that are pegged to the price of a fiat currency) instead of altcoins. But each of the requirements – value, liquidity, utility, transactability – must all be met before corporates can expect to safely use crypto/digital currencies on a daily basis. This doesn’t preclude organizations wading into the cryptocurrency landscape as a means of reaching new markets or differentiating against competitors. In fact, more and more online retailers and marketplaces are accepting cryptocurrencies for payment. You can even buy a Tesla with bitcoins. Yet when it comes to corporate treasury and finance teams, they are converting holdings to fiat currencies as quickly as possible so they can still meet cash forecast projections and free cash flow targets. State-sponsored digital currencies may well offer a lifeline to transform digital currencies for mainstream use – or maybe privately issued cryptocurrencies will still rise to the opportunity – and when that day comes it will be fascinating for daily cash management nevermind cross-border payments, global cash pooling, and multilateral netting. I think all of us in treasury look forward to that!