A 360 Degree View On Security

| 13-10-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

One would think data protection and security measures are baked into our identity as digital people, especially in a year where we are working remote more than ever. But is it though? The breaches show that security is too often seen as something to kind of ‘wing it’. And there is an eternal question whether the best way to a secure IT environment is to educate the employees to make the right decisions or to put measures into place.

We personally believe that security and combatting Fraud is a combination of people, processes, and tools. Security literacy is a skill everyone should have and constantly develop, and companies can further support this by making use of tools such as multi-factor authentication to mitigate risks and implementing processes to keep their corporate environments safe. We think security deserves a 360 degrees view in an organization that is implemented throughout their solution landscape.

Login & User access control

This is a simple thing organisations can implement either with Single-Sign-On and/or multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method of authentication that requires the use of more than one verification method and adds a critical second layer of security to user logins. A user is only granted access after successfully passing all authentication phases. The different factors are based off of different things as opposed to a simple password which bears some vulnerability. The first authentication phase is based on knowledge. A person needs to know their username and password, and this can also be initiated through single sign on with corporate credentials for a further security increase. The second authentication phase is based on possession. A person must possess and have access to a mobile phone to for example receive a code per text message or a phone call to double authenticate the log-in.

In practice this means, even if a username and password get compromised, cyber criminals will still not be able to login to the account protected with multi-factor authentication. And neither does a stolen mobile phone as both phases are required for a successful login.

One of the potential downsides to multi-factor authentication is that it adds one extra step in the process. And I can admit myself, every time I am going through the process of logging into our internal tools, we are sometimes a bit impatient while waiting for the text message. But it’s a small trade-off for security. Especially since single-sign on also adds convenience.

Single sign on means that people can log into systems with their corporate credentials and just speed up the process on that end. It’s fast and adds an additional security layer which is extremely powerful if paired with MFA.

Integrations

This is a crucial part in terms of security. We believe that monolithic enterprise platforms are dead and best-of-breed solutions that are highly integrated are the future. This best-of breed approach however also ads emphasis on the need to ensure the integrations are safe. Which data is travelling via which channels from where to where? How is the data in transit being secured from theft and man-in-the-middle attacks?

The first step is to map out all needed integrations and systems and create a use case scenario and based on this define the needed setup. For instance, in the context of cash management you might for instance end up protecting payment information with a higher security standards than a simple accounts payable extract that is used to cash forecasting only. The key is to have a companywide and regularly maintained risk analysis process that recognizes risky areas, measures the levels of set controls (preferably audited by external experts) and constantly comes up with better and better controls.

User access control

Understanding and carefully designing which user has access to which data and processes is not bullying your employees but is a crucial step in setting processes in place that further support security. In our case, our customers need to answer questions such as: which user can approve payments, who can add a new account number to the system, who can manipulate user rights, who can make a manual payment, or who can view balance information from banks and the likes.

Infrastructure and Platforms

Making sure that you run your IT infrastructure and solutions on secure platforms is a crucial control point. One would think that in this day and age that shouldn’t be a question anymore, yet we would recommend checking this anyway. How is the user access to databases and servers or other backend artifacts controlled? Are your administrators using multi-factor authentication? Have you segregated the so-called privileged access and user accounts? Do you keep a list of such accounts? Do you collect logs from your systems and store them securely?

Many industry standards come handy here. For us relevant standards are for instance ISO 27001 and ISAE 3402 auditing framework. In our domain particularly relevant is SWIFT Customer Security Program (CSP) which is a security framework developed and derived for financial industry from such international standards such as NIST and PCI DSS. All these standards should not be considered just as acronyms but a toolbox that can help you to build a company culture that takes security seriously in every step and by every employee in every role.

Security comes from within

Above are the steps that each organization can take to ensure that their set-up is secure. Let’s face it, there is no such thing as absolute security. But by establishing a strong security culture in your organization we believe you can make it really hard for criminals to gain access to our systems.

If you want to reach have an assessment of your security measures in terms of people, processes and tools for your cash management, please get in touch with us and we will assess your set-up and provide you options how you can further tighten your security. Cash is king, but hopefully a well-protected king.

CONTACT US 

 

 

 

 

WEBINAR ALERT | How to achieve cash forecasting excellence – challenges and strategies

treasuryXL | Nomentia |

 

Date & time: October 20, 2021 at 3.00 pm CET | Duration 45 minutes

Cash forecasting remains one of the most challenging topics in treasury management. With the knowledge and years of experience of our experts within TreasuryXL and Nomentia, we will discuss cash forecasting in more depth. We’ll tackle the challenges that are paired with cash forecasting, and strategies to overcome challenges to achieve cash forecasting excellence.

Join the webinar to learn more about: 

  • Brief introduction to TreasuryXL and Nomentia
  • Short introduction to cash forecasting
  • Why many companies have sub-optimal cash forecasting
  • The challenges with cash forecasting
  • Managing the cash forecasting process
  • Steps to create cash forecast excellence

Click on the banner for registration.

Meet the speakers

Francois de Witte (1)

François de Witte

Seasoned Treasury Expert
TreasuryXL

Huub Wevers

Huub Wevers

Senior Sales Manager
Nomentia

Jouni Kirjola

Jouni Kirjola

Head of Solutions and Presales
Nomentia


 

 

Why You Should Say Goodbye To Spreadsheets

| 29-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

A recent Cash management survey that we did showed that 43 percent of respondents continue to experience issues with their Cash flow forecasting. Unsurprisingly, more than half of the market still use spreadsheets to execute this business-critical function. The million-dollar question is, why?

According to the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group, the reliability of a spreadsheet is essentially the accuracy of the data that it produces and is compromised by the errors found in approximately 94% of spreadsheets.

If accurate cash flow forecasting remains one of the key priorities for treasury and finance professionals alike and the market has easy access to affordable, cutting edge forecasting applications, why do we continue to rely on outdated, ineffective forecasting tools?

Common myths prevail that spreadsheets save money, are easy to use & flexible. In the spreadsheet’s defence, it’s a nifty tool, that ticks many of the aforementioned boxes and can work very well with cash forecasting solutions. But, for a growing business looking to mitigate risk and plan for the future, risks run high if you’re relying on a system that’s almost surely flawed, demands hours of manual input effort, prone to human error, exists largely undocumented and which no one really knows how it works.

“After the clever intern, who developed the nifty macros and formulas is no longer around……nobody knows how the application generates the numbers.”

Penny wise, pound foolish 

Spreadsheeting is, by and large, the manual process of gathering, inputting and administrating data. Typically, spreadsheets have been built up and added to over a period of years, becoming cumbersome to manage and share. In an eye-watering number of cases, the person originally responsible for constructing the spreadsheet has long since left the department. No one knows the algorithm behind the macros and no one assumes responsibility for its maintenance, let alone documenting changes and adaptations. The whispered precedent remains, “if it’s not broken, then leave it alone”……… Ouch!

Alternatives are perceived to be more expensive. Excel, for example, is cheap to acquire whilst Treasury Management Systems are expensive with lots of added features that SME’s in particular, don’t require.

Busting the myths

Cost is no longer a plausible reason to rely on spreadsheets for cash flow forecasting. Cloud-based solutions such as Nomentia Cash Forecasting, offer competitive pricing. Modular, on-demand, SaaS solutions have revolutionised application choice. Simply choose the modules you need, pay by the month and no IT involvement required. Free up more departmental time by reducing the number of resource hours required to maintain a spreadsheeting process and the cost-saving just got bigger.

Spreadsheet errors and inaccuracy are by far the most compelling reasons to consider a move to a specialist cash forecasting application. Finance and treasury cannot afford to make mistakes. Inaccurate cash flow forecasts can literally lay to ruin to a company’s business reputation and/or result in a financial loss or penalty. No scare tactics needed.

Mini Case-Study: Conviviality a ‘Spreadsheeting Horror Story’

(Source: The Guardian UK, 21 March 2018)

At first, the drinks retailer Conviviality said profits would be 20% lower than the £70m expected by the City, with £5.2m of the £14m hole that had opened up in its forecast, down to a spreadsheet error. The remainder was a reflection of weakening profit margins.

On 21 March 2018, the Guardian (UK) reported “Firm issues third profits warning; says it will meet investors to raise funds via a share placing’’. The company, in a stock exchange announcement, said it was holding meetings with investors to raise £125m via a share placing that would help it pay a £30m tax bill due at the end of the month, fund overdue payments to creditors and repay a £30m loan.

The company blamed the first shock profit warning on a spreadsheet arithmetic error made by a member of its finance team and weakening profit margins, and then admitted it had not budgeted for the £30m tax bill due this month.”

Conviviality has since gone into administration

Whether or not the use of spreadsheets was the sole cause of this bankruptcy is not clear, but it seems to have been a major contributor. Such cases are exceptional, but they do illustrate how relying on spreadsheets is not a sensible course of action for any finance & treasury team anywhere.

Many spreadsheets also contain, quite clever but complex, macros and apart from keeping these up to date, finance & treasury is responsible for ensuring their integrity. This is something that is not always feasible. Even when errors are spotted it is often very difficult to decode them, especially given the sheer size of the spreadsheets many finance and treasury folk utilise.

Embracing future-proof change

Readily available and affordable cash forecasting applications have, for those organisations who have embraced the benefits of technology, reduced risk exposure exponentially, facilitated real-time & accurate cash visibility, minimised human resource demand, and liberated finance leaders to take a more strategic role across the business. No-brainer.

Sometimes taking a leap of faith, moving away from the old and onto the new, can be a daunting decision. Historical hang-ups, ranging from less than favourable experiences with legacy systems, pre-conceived assumptions around cost implications, and work-flow disruption make it all too easy to decide to ‘leave well enough alone’. Before you take the decision to stick with the spreadsheet that’s done what it apparently ‘says on the tin’ for many years – let’s consider the following:

Back to the future

In a world where cyber security is of the utmost concern and data privacy, e.g., GDPR, is a regulatory requirement, can finance and treasury really afford to run their operations on spreadsheets? Spreadsheet security cannot and does not compare to the advantages of specialist systems that have been built with security in mind. Indeed, some spreadsheet applications lack even basic authentication security, can be easily copied and distributed outside the confines of the business without the knowledge or prior agreement of management.

Spreadsheets were built for convenience-only in a pre-internet world where cyber-attacks and data security were unknown and of no consideration. Spreadsheets were not built with security in mind.

Square peg in a round hole

Spreadsheets don’t grow with your treasury and finance needs. Organisations often try to adapt their spreadsheets to a growing business but soon realise that the complexity of doing so is almost impossible. Adding new accounts and deleting old accounts becomes challenging at the best of times, but managing this critical process in a spreadsheet, whilst trying to drive the business forward, is often a step too far, leading to errors and oversights.

Treasury and finance, by its very nature, consists of a number of different individuals performing a variety of activities, sometimes at the same time. This results in the sharing of valuable company information between several people and departments in any one day. Managing this process on spreadsheets can be difficult and nigh on impossible, even if some automation is achieved. Typically, only one person can update a spreadsheet at any one time so the workload that needs to be shared becomes inefficient and confusing. Maintaining full transparency around additions, edits, and alterations are off the table. Once an edit, or error, is made on the spreadsheet, it remains invisible and untraceable until something goes wrong. In addition, identifying the point of error-impact is often a time-consuming, futile, and frustrating exercise for some unfortunate departmental executive, even if they have the necessary investigative skills.

Doomed to repeat the same mistakes

Spreadsheets are not that good at quantifying or qualifying historical data, and treasury & finance needs this data regularly. That is not to say data cannot be stored in earlier spreadsheet versions, but due to the way they work, it is not a simple task to access, view, assess, and report this data as efficiently and effectively as modern cash management applications. Losing valuable historical data for comparison and variance purposes is a high-risk consideration. Accidentally saving over historic files, or indeed losing files altogether, is a terrifying experience we’ve probably all experienced at some stage in our careers. Notifying management of a spreadsheet faux pas is just as bone-chilling, remaining undisclosed and causing further inaccuracy to forecast outputs.

As alluded to in an earlier blog ‘Five expensive myths in Cash Forecasting’, there is a very real chance that the person who created the original spreadsheet has moved on and left the company. How many finance and treasury departments have found themselves in a position where a mega spreadsheet, long lauded as a ‘work of art,’ is no longer sufficiently supported and documented with non-existent instructions on how to maintain or update the worksheet.

Cassette recorders, big hair, leg warmers, the Rubik’s cube, Walkman, and mobile phones the size of small suitcases are all legacies from the 1980’s. Technology and hairstyles have moved on….. so should cash forecasting applications.

 

 

 

Press release: 20th Annual Liquidity Management | marcus evans

23-09-2021| treasuryXL | marcus evans |

For the last two years the banking sector has been in a challenging position as the liquidity management was and still is under the heavy influence of the pandemic

Aiming to help our long-standing partnership with our delegate audience in the banking sector, marcus evans, the leading provider of strategic conferences, continues its most renowned event in the banking industry and brings the 20th Annual Liquidity Management conference, which will take place on the 8th-9th of November 2021.

Join us in a two-day event where VP, C-Level and Senior Management Executives from leading Policy Makers and Banking Institutions such as the UK Finance, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, UBS, Deutsche Bank AG, Commonwealth Bank, Nord/LB amongst others , will present best strategies and effective practices through highly interactive speaking sessions, on key industry topics based on liquidity management

The conference format followed by marcus evans ensures that content is always clear of product placement and vendor showcasing to fully satisfy the delegates’ thirst for knowledge and meet their strategically oriented expectations.

Special Discounts are available for readers/subscribers of Treasury XL.

Click here to register for the event

 

For more info, please contact Ayis Panayis, Media & PR Executive at marcus evans at [email protected] or call on +357 22849327.

 

 

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!

 

 

Which Options Are There When It Comes To Bank Connectivity?

15-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

In this blog, we want to give an overview of the different options for bank connections from host-to host, direct connections through regional standards and SWIFT. On top of that we’ll also take a look at open banking APIs and what possibilities they might hold for the future.

Bank connections enable corporate customers to exchange messages with their banking partners. Companies need to have a relationship with at least one bank, in practice there are typically several banks involved, for example to exchange account information and sending payments. Bank connections are so to speak the backbone of your treasury department because they ensure the uninterrupted flow of information between your business process tools and banks, allowing you to create accurate cash forecasts, manage liquidity and the likes. Bank connectivity will remain a topic that corporate treasury departments need to decide how to approach. Now, let’s look at the different options for creating bank connections.

Direct host-to-host connections

One of our webinar polls showed there are still 30% of our respondents who maintain host-to-host connections with their banks. This means that typically the IT department sets up bank connections to specific banks. How those work in specific then depends on the bank. With some banks a host-to-host connection is needed for each country where the company is operating. Luckily many banks offer single point of entry connectivity which means that once you’re connected, you can use it to operate cash management messages in all or multiple countries where the bank has branches.

Since the bank is hosting the service, it also means that the bank is dictating all technical requirements and corporate customers need to adapt to changes the banks might make.

And change is imminent, especially when it comes to messaging formats, communication protocols and security requirements. There are for example client certificate renewals that come up usually every two years. Root certificates expire more infrequently but cause more maintenance work.

Another quite timely example is the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol version upgrade. TLS certificates not only have to be renewed from time to time, but older TLS protocol versions have known vulnerabilities and the banks are enforcing their clients to use newer versions all the time.

Maintaining direct host-to-host connection requires you and especially your IT department to make a commitment to maintain these connections day in and day out. Which requires special technical expertise from the IT department and a lot of resources, especially when you employ many host-to-host connections in your ecosystem.

Direct connections through regional standard protocols

The EBICS (Electronic Banking Internet Communication Standard) is a standard protocol that is used in Germany, Switzerland, and France. Also, banks in other countries are testing this standard.

The challenge with EBICS has been that different countries have their own versions of the standard. In 2018 EBICS 3.0 was launched with the goal to harmonize the differences and to make it easier to communicate across borders. In practice Germany and Switzerland are still using EBICS 2.5 and it will take until November 2021 until EBICS 3.0 becomes mandatory for banks in Germany.

Some international banks have adopted EBICS into wider use. Which means that corporations familiar with EBICS may use it for message exchange and authorization in other countries as well. Only the future will show if EBICS fulfils its vision of becoming the pan-European standard protocol for bank communication.

Connections through SWIFT

Companies can connect directly to the SWIFT network and with that get connected with over 11 000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. SWIFT is hosting and maintaining the global network for that. It’s highly secure and reliable. It’s a single gateway that almost sounds like it opens the door to paradise for you, at least in the mind of someone who spends his time building host-to-host bank connections for single banks. You are empowered to change banking partners based on your business needs without having to worry about establishing new connections.

SWIFT has a sort of do-it-yourself approach by providing Alliance Lite2 to companies. And here comes the other side of the coin. A direct connection to SWIFT is costly and requires time and resource-demanding integration. In addition, you need to comply in full scope with the SWIFT Customer Security Programme (CSP) that requires all their members to protect their endpoint, because naturally, they need to protect their network.

Most corporate customers use a SWIFT Alliance Lite2 Business Application (L2BA) provider or a Service Bureau for the connection. In the L2BA model, a service provider takes care of handling all necessary requirements to connect to the Swift network and you buy your bank connections pretty much as a service. Often this is packaged with other products and solutions you might use.

Open banking APIs

Open banking APIs are one of the most interesting developments. We already see banks all across Europe offering premium APIs for corporates that go beyond what is possible today.

Open banking APIs are set to bring a real-time component to the game that hasn’t been there so far. In the past there was no way for external systems to fetch for example real time balances from banks, but this is about to change. While as previously, corporations would execute batch payments, with open banking APIs this will be possible whenever a payment is needed with instant effect. Looking at balances and payments is the beginning of new solutions that will be available to corporate treasury.

Open banking APIs is something that companies and providers such as Nomentia will need to take into account for their roadmap because this is clearly where we will be able to provide innovative solutions for our customers in the future.

What’s the verdict?

It would be great to give an easy answer to this question. But it’s just not that simple. As I outlined above, all connection methods have pros and cons It really depends on your needs and internal structures what you need.

WATCH OUR WEBINAR ABOUT BANK CONNECTIVITY

 

 

Our (interim) treasury labour market is extremely international

13-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Pieter de Kiewit Just before starting my vacation I created a small overview of the recent successes of Team Treasurer Search. Next to the fact that we see the speed of placements picking up, I think it is striking how international our treasury labour market is. This is not only for […]

Nomentia Acquires TIPCO: A union of exceptional products and teams

08-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

Nomentia announced yesterday that the company has acquired TIPCO Treasury & Technology. Shortly after the news was released, we had the chance to sit down with Jukka Sallinen, CEO of Nomentia, and talk about the announcement, what does the acquisition promise for finance and treasury professionals globally, and what does the future hold for Nomentia.

The acquisition of TIPCO is the latest milestone in Nomentia’s history. What’s the reason behind the transaction?

There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we’ve felt that both companies share a very similar mission. We want to provide unparalleled solutions for and with our customers. TIPCO’s Treasury Information Platform (TIP) is an exceptional treasury management solution that is widely known in the DACH region, and TIPCO has been also famous for its acumen in treasury. Our combined solutions and domain expertise make us one of the strongest players in the cloud treasury and cash management space. I have no doubt that our current and future customers will benefit from our combined product portfolio. Another good reason for joining forces with TIPCO is that we’ve strongly felt that both companies have had surprisingly similar cultures – both have a very healthy obsession for providing the best solutions for our clients and we take pride in what we do.

 

Tell us more about the merged product portfolio and how treasury teams will benefit from it?

Before the acquisition, Nomentia cash management was consisting of Bank connections, Payments, Cash Forecasting, In-house banking, Bank Account Management, and Reconciliation solutions. Adding TIP to the solution mix, we can now provide robust and sophisticated cash flow forecast and cash visibility solutions, as well as solutions for trade finance, FX risk, treasury reporting and treasury workflows, and more. TIP has been always loved by the users and now all Nomentia customers will have access to TIP.

Today, it’s not feasible for treasury teams and finance teams to choose one provider for all their needs or trust that their ERP system would provide a working solution alone. Treasurers should be able to choose the solutions that can best resolve their challenges and meet their needs. To get the best outcome, finance and treasury teams often need to work with multiple vendors – taking the best solution from each. Of course, that’s not always ideal from IT’s point of view, but that’s where our team comes in to take care of the implementation plan together with the client and integrate with their existing systems and banks. We trust that a lot of our current customers will find new solutions from our updated offering that can help them to overcome their current challenges.

New customers will find that Nomentia can offer the widest cash and treasury management solution portfolio on the market to help them build better treasury processes.

 

How does the acquisition affect Nomentia’s future?

During the past year, Nomentia has taken big steps toward becoming the global powerhouse for treasury and cash management. After last year’s merger of OpusCapita and Analyste, we’ve successfully got our footprint in many new markets, and we’ve been especially growing in the DACH and Benelux regions besides continuing to be the number one choice of treasurers in the Nordics. Acquiring TIPCO and merging the two product portfolios will help us to strengthen our position in Europe even more.

Our team has been also growing significantly – it’s always great to work with people that are experts in their field and can truly help our customers to develop their operations. Together, we will exceed our customers’ expectations with our strong product portfolio and even stronger team. Personally, I am thrilled about the news and can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get to work together with our new colleagues!

 

Read the press release to learn more

 

 

What to Consider When You choose your Bank Connectivity Strategy? 7 Important Criteria

| 01-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

Most organizations would benefit from some form of Bank Connectivity as a service. But just deciding on outsourcing bank connectivity won’t magically make all those connections appear. In this blog, we’ll cover 7 important criteria you should think of when evaluating different options.

1. In which banks do the majority of your payments flow?

Make a list of all banks that your organization is connected with and include all banking relationships from all your subsidiaries. We have noticed in interactions with our customers that this first step can be eye-opening at times. Often, we have an idea of the different banking relationships but then there are still local bank relations that might not be that visual to your treasury function. It also provides you with a good understanding of how many bank connections you would need and whether you would benefit from simplifying your banking landscape before implementing a bank connectivity solution. If your organization is only working with 5 banks altogether the story is very different from an organization that has relationships with 20+ banks.

After mapping this out, you might want to apply the 80/20 rule: typically, you would first set up connections to the strategic banks that cover 80% of your payment flows. A cloud-based software from a Cash Management specialist will most likely be able to provide you these connections as part of their out-of-the-box functionality.

2. Evaluate your use of local banks

Even if you expand the use of strategic banks to more countries, you might still find a set of local banks that you cannot replace. Typically, a discussion about bank connectivity increases in complexity when the long tail of local banks comes into play. That’s where you need to ask yourself why you are working with local banks. Is it for collecting money, for making payments from a regulatory point of view or because of specific needs within your local business?

Having visibility on Cash is straightforward while covering payment flows is not easily justified from a direct cost savings point of view. At the same time payment fraud plays a role in the local banks. You might want to consider a solution to replace internet banks for manual payments with a centralized solution. Then, the business case cannot be backed up by direct cost savings, but cost-efficient risk mitigation.

3. How consolidated is your banking landscape?

After mapping out all your banks in a first step, you know your strategic banks. Now it’s time to take a look at which countries are covered by these strategic banks. Would it be a good time to reduce your banking relations by using a certain set of strategic banks in more of your countries in order to reduce the number of domestic banks?

4. How many file formats and payment types do you have in use?

It is a different thing to set up credit notes and treasury payments only, as opposed to also including domestic payments, salary payments, and tax payments. We recommend having a solution for all your payment types and file formats: this is the only way to get rid of the internet banks and the tokens.

5. Are you concerned about payment fraud and information security?

You should have a solution to cover all payment types in all countries with all banks. That is the only way to have a full audit trail and control in every country. A centralized payment process enables centralized validation and control. We have covered the topic of payment fraud extensively.

In our case, having bank connectivity as a cloud service lets you benefit from a platform, which invests annually roughly 1bn$ in information security. From an information security perspective, this lets us concentrate on application-level security, which is annually audited by 3rd parties.

6. Are you interested in having transparency in your bank fees?

Modern bank connectivity solutions enable transparency in banking fees: Having bank agreements and the related fees included and matched against the banks’ reports. Even more transparency can be gained with services like SWIFT GPI: SWIFT GPI enables banks to provide bank fee information for the e2e chain. Not all banks support these features yet.

7. Choose wisely

Once you go through the questions and mappings outlined above you are at a good place in making your decision for the right bank connectivity provider. It might seem tedious at times and one might think of bank connections as a mere technical thing, but they are so much more. We feel this is a perfect moment to evaluate all your processes and look at ways to harmonize them.

It’s also a great way to work closely together with your colleagues. We recommend approaching this topic in a project team between treasury, finance and IT: From an IT perspective you want to minimize the IT-footprint, finance will run the daily operations and treasury sets the policies and controls.

DOWNLOAD OUR BANK CONNECTIVITY WHITEPAPER

 

 

Are You Still Thinking About Virtual Accounts or Already Implementing POBO and COBO?

| 04-08-2021 | treasuryXL | Nomentia |

Companies are increasingly focusing on harmonising their banking landscape to obtain better visibility of Cash balances, to mitigate Fraud Risks and to improve automation and security in their treasury processes.

In a world where the next fraud attempt is lurking around every corner, no company wants to create processes with different banks, tokens, and user lists for each of their different local entities. With this harmonisation, companies start to rethink their processes, and this naturally leads to in-house banking, including POBO and COBO. This is because the question soon arises as to why, for example, not all euro payments should be handled from one account, if that were possible within the regulatory context.

Setting up an in-house bank doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of several steps taken to centralise an organisation’s cash management. The six steps are:

  1. Managing corporate bank account structure. You can read more in our bank connectivity guide.
  2. Harmonising and centralising payment process. It’s also a way to mitigate the risk of payment fraud. You can read more in our payment fraud ebook.
  3. Streamlining internal payments. This is a logical next step after managing your corporate bank account structure.
  4. Establishing POBO.
  5. Establishing COBO.
  6. Centralising control over financing.

Today we would like to focus on POBO and COBO. They are the ultimate goals of a payments project because they create transparency and make cash management processes more efficient and automated. This sounds great, right? So why, then, aren’t all organisations just setting up POBO and COBO and calling it a day?

Moving from disparate processes, tools and a varied (if you want to be positive) banking landscape to a centralised treasury doesn’t happen easily. Companies might even feel hesitant about implementing on-behalf-of structures because their set-ups are too complicated. That’s an interesting point and I’d like to stress that the more complex a company is in its cash management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) structures, the more they will benefit from an on-behalf-of set-up.

Increased control, transparency, and efficiency

In the POBO model, the subsidiaries process the payment data in their systems according to internally harmonised processes, and the group treasury decides on the most cost-efficient payment method and banking connection. The group treasury is able to centralise cash outflows, which significantly enhances the safety of and control over the payment process.

COBO and POBO make it possible for the group to reach the highest level of independence from banks and maximise cost efficiency.

The benefits of POBO and COBO can be summarised into increased control, transparency, and efficiency. But there are also challenges associated with on-behalf-of structures that need to be evaluated before setting them up.

Where there’s a benefit there’s a challenge

POBO is possible for most payment types, but some are regulated in such a way that they cannot be completed by the on-behalf-of method. This is often related to tax or salary payments. Legal restrictions specific to each country can make it difficult to set up POBO and companies need to assess whether the benefits they will gain are worth the effort. There is no one true answer for all companies; it really depends on the level of complexity they are facing.

Another reason why companies might feel hesitant about implementing POBO is because they use multiple ERP systems. If that is the case, the mere idea of POBO is simply far too complicated. To be honest, when we hear that ‘excuse’ we see it as a challenge, and it makes us happy. Because this then means we can talk about payment factories –especially our payment factory solution. We can create a process that makes it possible for all entities to pay with internal bank accounts as payments-on-behalf-of. I’d even go so far as to say that the more ERP systems a company has, the more benefits it will get from POBO.

When it comes to COBO, the main challenge is that companies are dependent on their buyers to know what to collect from whom. Companies need to retrieve all accounts receivable (AR) information and maintain an overall view of account balances. In some countries that might be relatively easy, as invoices generally have a reference number. But that’s not the case in all countries. It comes back to identifying incoming payments correctly. For example, this can be achieved by matching payments to open invoices. A solution for automatic bank account reconciliation would be able to automatically match incoming payments based on information provided, for example in the message to the right AR account. We took a closer look at the topic in this blog post about how an in-house bank with modern matching solves the COBO challenge.

That said, of course, it’s not an easy task to create on-behalf-of structures, but it’s something that organisations will greatly benefit from if done correctly.