Webinar Alert: Treasury Management in the COVID19 crisis

| 26-05-2020 | Francois De Witte

On June 15th, our Expert Francois de Witte will present a Webinar in collaboration with Febelfin-Academy, regarding Treasury Management in the COVID19 Crisis. The Webinar is in Dutch

Omschrijving

Ten gevolge van de COVID19 zijn veel ondernemingen geconfronteerd met cash & liquiditeits problemen. Hoe ga je hiermee om? Welke tools heb je ter beschikking om dit te beheren? Hoe benader je de stakeholders incluis de banken voor bijkomende kredieten.

Deze opleiding heeft als doelstelling om inzicht te geven in:

  • de tools voor het cash & liquidity management en hoe ze te gebruiken;
  • hoe creëer je bijkomende financiële ademruimte: beheer van werkkapitaal – uitstel van kosten;
  • hoe benader je de banken voor uitstel van aflossingen en/of bijkomende kredieten;
  • de inschatting van de risico’s en opportuniteiten van deze nieuwe situatie;
  • het opstellen van een concreet actieplan.

Vereiste voorkennis

Advanced level: biedt praktijkgerichte toepassingen op de reeds verworven theoretische kennis van de “basic level” opleidingen (uitdieping).

Voor wie is deze opleiding bestemd?

De opleiding kan gevolgd worden door verschillende doelgroepen:

  • KMO relatiegelastigden van banken;
  • Financiëel verantwoordelijken van KMO’s en non profit organisaties;
  • Corporate Treasurers.

Programma

Inleiding: Belang van cash & liquidity management

Deel 1: Tools voor het beheer van cash & liquidity management van je onderneming:

  • Wat is mijn cash positie vandaag?
  • Cash forecast voor de komende dagen, of zelfs weken?
  • Beheer van werkkapitaal
  • Cash Burn Rate – Cash runway
  • Dagelijkse stuurgroep Cash Positie
  • Beheer van financiële risico’s

Deel 2: Tips voor het verbeteren van je cash positie:  

  • Beheer van de klantenpost
  • Beheer van de voorraden
  • Beheer van je leveranciers
  • Uitstel van bepaalde uitgaven

Deel 3: Onderhandeling van uitstel vervaldagen of nieuwe kredieten bij de banken:

  • Kredietbeoordeling door banken: aandachtspunten
  • Wat is momenteel voorzien door de overheid, Febelfin en de bank community?
  • Hoe benadert je best de banken: tips en tricks voor je kredietdossier

Deel 4: Risico’s en opportuniteiten – Actieplan:

  • Risico’s en opportuniteiten
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Actieplan

Q & A – Coaching

Pracktische Informatie

  • Duurtijd: 2u30
  • Uren: 10u – 12u30
  • Plaats: Inloggen op online platform
  • Kosten: Leden €160 / Niet-leden: €180

Schrijf je hier in voor de training

 

Corporate Governance and Treasury | Embrace the Corporate Treasury Policy

| 18-02-2020 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |



Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance is a mechanism through which boards and directors can direct, monitor and supervise the conduct and operation of the corporation and its management in a way that ensures appropriate levels of authority, accountability, stewardship, leadership, direction and control.

The ultimate responsibility for Treasury management within an organization lies with the board of directors. Due to the practicalities and technical aspects involved in corporate treasury, the board typically delegates the daily management of risk to responsible individuals in each department. In the case of financial risks, many of these are delegated to the treasurer.

Whilst, due to its specific activities, the corporate treasurer needs to take a lot of actions and decisions independently, it is important that he does this within a framework and Governance. Quite a lot of corporates have formalized this in a “Corporate Treasury Policy”.

Corporate Treasury Policy

The Corporate Treasury Policy is the mechanisms by which the board, or risk management committee (RMC), can delegate financial decisions in a controlled manner. This document should be a summary of all the principles approved by the Board or the Financial Committee of the Board as a mandate of the Board to the treasurer (the Treasury Mandate).

The Corporate Treasury Policy is a framework document, which covers the following areas:

Organization of the Treasury Function

In most of the companies, the Corporate Treasury Reports to the CFO. The CFO is usually himself a Member of the Executive Committee, which itself reports directly to the Board of Directors. (Treasurer – CFO – Treasury Committee – Audit Committee – Board):

A policy should set out clearly which decisions are delegated to the treasurer and when the treasurer should refer a decision back to the board or other person within the organization. Within several corporate, the Board of Directors have delegated the decision process to dedicated committee, like the Risk Committee, and the Liquidity and Funding Committee.

Treasury Control Framework (including the Code of Conduct)

Procedures and controls to manage the risk should be put in place to provide an overall framework for decision-making by the treasury team.

Ideally, this should also include a code of conduct. The Corporate Treasurer should act as a Corporate Custodian. In other words, he is Protector of the company’s assets, and should act according to a strict Code of Conduct and Ethics. There exist examples of codes developed by professional organizations such as IGTA, ATEB, AFTE, ACT and ATEL.

Liquidity and funding

The board should be informed about funding possibilities to put currency, maturity, cost and equity/debt character into a wider context. The board should decide on the strategy but can delegate fund raising decisions and actions to treasury. However, I recommend that Treasury asks the final board approval for strategic decisions (e.g. major syndicated loans, bond issues, etc.).

The board should have an overall view on the liquidity risk of the company. The Board should also define the financial policy, covering the gearing and maturity issues, fixed and variable interest rate obligations, dividend policy and covenants.

Banking Relationship

Banks chosen by the treasurer must be able to meet the needs of the organization, both domestically and internationally. I recommend that the Board approves annually criteria for selecting the banks with whom it will work.

Risk Management

The Treasurer must identify the various risks to which the company is exposed, quantify the impact, and should inform the Board thereof. He should estimate the size of these exposure risks and their impact on the he overall operations and financial performance of the company, and make recommendations in these areas

The board must approve the hedging policy, the company’s foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management policy and its attitude to risk. It should define which part of the risks must be hedged and the hedging horizon. I recommend that the Treasurer submits at regular intervals to the Board the list of authorized instruments, the amount per instrument and their term

Investment Policy – Counterparty Credit Risk

The board should approve the treasury’s Investment policy including the choice of instruments, the list of counterparties used + the maximum amount/counterparty & maturity. It is recommended that the Board provides guidelines and limits per instrument.

It is recommended that the Board approves the guidelines for fixing counterparty limits, and maximum exposure per counterparty.

Authorized instruments and Arrangements – Authorized Approvers

The Treasurer should make sure that the board must understands and approve the strategies and instruments used and sets guidelines for the appropriate limits for their use. These guidelines need to ensure that treasury has not sacrificed long-term flexibility or

survival for short-term gain, especially in view of the volatile financial market’s situation.

Treasury Operational Risk

The treasurer should make the Board aware of the operational risks to which the company is exposed. He should provide recommendations in this area. Furthermore, the treasurer should also submit recommendations to the board on the treasury organization and the ways to reduce the operational risks.

Monitoring

A Corporate Treasury Policy has only sense, if there is a regular follow up and control framework; Hence procedures and controls to manage the risk should be put in place to provide an overall framework for decision-making by the treasury team.

It is also important to provide to the Board a regular update on the way the treasurer complies with the policy. The policy should also be regularly reviewed.

Treasury must alert the board to external changes and internal strategic developments, which may have long-term implications for the organization and make proposals for managing them.

The policy needs also to be reviewed at regular intervals each “Policy” in function of the market and of other internal or external developments. I recommend having treasury on the Board’s agenda on a quarterly basis.

Conclusion

Treasury is not an island in the company. It is closely linked to the corporate governance. Hence it is important to define the right framework.

I recommend to corporates to put in place a treasury policy validated by the Board of Directors and reviewed regularly. It is important to update the Board at regular intervals about strategic topics, such as strategic financing topics and risk management.

The treasurer has also an important educational role, as he must be able to make complex treasury topics understandable for the board members.

Hence there must be a good interaction between the treasurer, the CFO and the Board is key, where the Treasurer is the linking pin.

 

François de Witte
Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult
Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.
treasuryXL ambassador

Recap ATEL Annual Conference 2019

| 22-10-2019 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |

Each year in the 3rd week of September, ATEL, the Luxembourg Association of Corporate Treasurers, organizes its Annual Conference. This year the ATEL Annual Conference was held on September 19, 2019. It was a very special edition, as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the creation of ATEL. There were over 200 participants, and this was a good opportunity to have snapshot of some recent tendencies in treasury.

“The annual conference is a great way to take stock of the sector’s developments while celebrating our quarter-century run in a friendly atmosphere,” stated François Masquelier, Chairman of ATEL and Deputy Chairman of the EACT.,

The Conference started with a series of workshops. I followed the one on Cybersecurity in Treasury, given by BNP Paribas, and the one on “®evolution of Payments” given by BearingPoint.

BearingPoint expect major changes due to Instant Payments. The existing solutions to obtain customer information on the receipt of payments are not enough anymore.  Corporations require immediate information on received payments. The Westhafen Expert Dialogue has defined immediate customer information of received payments as a best practice. The format used is the Credit-notification N54 defined based on the camt.054. The proposed transmission channel is either via API: Incoming payments are transferred from the bank to the corporation via a web-service-notification (HTTPS, push) or the through the banking server (EBICS.

The plenary session started with a video of Finance Minister Gramegna congratulating the association on its 25th anniversary and coming back on the establishment of the euro as a great accelerator for the profession and underlining Luxembourg’s key role in maintaining a positive environment for treasurers.

Isabelle Badoux presented Sanofi’s treasury transformation journey focusing on centralized treasury, central bank interaction and the conception of a “payment factory.”

Luca Lazzaroli, then presented the EIB, the largest multilateral lender and borrower in the world. The institution invests over € 1.2 trillion in innovation, environment, infrastructure and SMEs with a special accent on sustainable growth in Europe.

Vincezo Dimase from Refinitiv concluded the plenary session by presenting the challenging transition from LIBOR the so-called ARR (Alternative Reference Rate – e.g. the ESTER – Euro short term rate, which will replace the EONIA). By the end of 2021, the financial sector will abandon the IBOR, and this will have a major impact on the corporate treasurers, as several long-term contracts using the IBOR go beyond end 2021.

Following on this conference we had a nice get together with all the participants where I had interesting exchanges of experience. The ATEL Annual Conference was a very good event.

I am impressed by ATEL, who proves to be able in the small country of Luxembourg to group top experts along hot topics in treasury. On 26/9/2019, we also had at the Luxembourg House of Training the official Ceremony where 13 treasury professionals received their “Certified Path in International Treasury Management and Corporate Finance“, organized in collaboration with ATEL. A new session of this Certified Path will be held starting from January 2020. All practical information and program are available here. I was also part of the lecturers and of the jury.

Will you join next year?

François de Witte
Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult
Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.
treasuryXL ambassador
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PSD2, Open Banking and their major impact

| 24-9-2019 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |

This training program at the Febelfin Academy prepares participants for 2 major challenges of the upcoming years in banking: PSD2 & Open Banking. This will have a major impact on the financial ecosystem and will create new challenges.

The goal of this training course is to:

  • Make participants aware of the ways PSD2 & Open Banking affect banks and other players in Europe;
  • Understand the impact of the technical requirements with a focus on strong customer authentication;
  • Outline the risks and responsibilities of the involved parties within the new regulatory framework;
  • Understand the impact of Open Banking APIs (Application Programming interfaces;
  • Understand the impacts of the PSD2 & Open Banking the financial ecosystem;
  • Evaluate the risk and opportunities created by PSD2 & Open Banking the banks and the new players;
  • Determine action plan for your company.

Target Group

This training course can be followed by multiple target groups:

  • Managers of a banks/PSP’s/Fintechs involved with the payments and digital strategy
  • Product Development Experts (payments)
  • Service providers involved with Open Banking
  • Corporate Treasurers
  • Compliance officers

Advanced: offers practice-based applications to complement the theoretical knowledge already acquired through the “basic level” courses (in-depth learning).

There is no specific preparation required. For persons who are less acquainted with PSD2 and payments, some pre-course reading material can be made available.”

Program

This training program prepares participants for two key challenges of the upcoming years in banking: PSD2 and Open Banking.

Part I: PSD2 and Open Banking – overview:

  • PSD2: Scope and Basic Principles
  • XS2A (Access the Accounts)
  • New Players: AISP and PISP
  • SCA (Strong Customer Authentication)
  • Consent and SCA
  • Requirements for the Banks and TPPs
  • Timetable
  • Trends in Open Banking

Part II: Open banking architecture: Implications for banks and the New Players

  • XS2A: Risks, Responsibilities and obligations of the related parties
  • XS2A: Availability Requirements
  • Setting up the SCA in Practice
  • SCA: Optimization of the Exemptions
  • Security requirements ensuring consumer protection
  • Addressing the fraud and cyberattack risks
  • Technology: building interfaces – APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
  • European initiatives to standardize the interfaces
  • Practical aspects – Role of Aggregators
  • Group Exercise

Part 3: PSD2: Potential impact on the market and next steps

  • Global impact on the market – New Players
  • Impact on the Payments Landscape
  • Impact on the Cards and Digital Payment Instruments
  • Impact on the Merchants and the e-commerce
  • Impact on corporates
  • FinTech Companies: ready to disrupt banks?
  • Implication on the Digital Banking Strategy
  • The new role of competition and cooperation
  • Action Plan for Banks and New Players
  • Group Exercise

Practical information

Duration: One day training

Date: October 10, 2019

Hours: 9AM-5PM (6 training hours)

Location: Febelfin Academy, Aarlenstraat/Rue d’Arlon 80, 1040 Brussels

Additional information: This training course will be given in English

 

REGISTER TODAY

 

François de Witte

Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult / Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.

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How the Treasury QuickScan add value to your business

| 27-8-2019 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |

Do you want to know if you can save a substantial amount of money and/or protect your company against major financial risks? Are you willing to invest time and money in treasury within your organization? 

The Treasury QuickScan can help organizations with just one scan to assess if an additional effort in treasury can be an added value.

The Treasury QuickScan as a solution
SMEs struggle with increasing exposure to cash & liquidity problems, financing needs and risks (currencies, commodities, interest and liquidity).

Moreover, they do not always have a full-fledged Treasury/finance Department in the organization. That does not mean that these organizations cannot save costs or that there are no opportunities for funding, for example. It is not always necessary to set up a separate treasury department in a company to control and manage the treasury.

The Treasury QuickScan aims to bring a solution to these companies. An experienced hands-on Treasurer can do a first scan within the organization.

The objectives to provide to the company are:

  • A diagnosis on his treasury
  • A benchmarking towards his peers
  • The identification of the pain points
  • Some quick wins and an initial business case to determine whether it is worthwhile investing in the treasury (resources, tooling).

A questionnaire for 5 treasury topics
By means of a structured questionnaire, the Treasury QuickScan aims to make a quick scan / diagnosis of the treasury. Down below, we provide you some questions by topic:

  1. Working Capital Management:
  • Do you actively manage your working capital indicators (Days Sales Outstanding, Days Inventory Outstanding, Days Purchases Outstanding)
  • Do you have a credit policy in place?
  • How is your credit control organized?
  • Do you actively manage the payment terms of your suppliers?
  1. Cash and Liquidity Management:
  • Do you all have a visibility on all your cash positions?
  • Who manages the various cash positions daily?
  • Are you sometimes confronted with payments that are not paid due to lack of funds?
  • Do you do daily interbank transfers to settle the debit balances and to invest the excess liquidity optimally?
  • Do you already have an automatic cash pooling?
  • Do you centralize your in- and outgoing payments or consider doing this?
  • Do you have a cash forecasting process in place?
  1. Financing and Bank Relationship Management:
  • Do you experience difficulties in obtaining bank financing?
  • How many banks do you use? Do you need all the banks?
  • Do you ensure that the side business is distributed fairly to banks that grant large credits?
  • Are you monitoring regularly the costs which banks charge to you?
  1. Risk Management:
  • Do you have an overview on your foreign exchange, interest rate and liquidity risks?
  • Can you measure the impact of foreign exchange rate fluctuations on your Profit and Loss account?
  • Do hedge your main risks?
  • Do you have a written policy regarding the risk management?
  1. Organization and Compliance:
  • Which are the current tools in place to manage the fraud and operational risks?
  • Do you apply the 4 eyes principle throughout the company?
  • Do you have an overview of who can sign where on your bank accounts?

A short recap
The Treasury QuickScan does not solve all your treasury issues but will provide you get a mapping of the current situation, the issues, a first set of recommendations and a business case for further investments in treasury.

For organizations without a dedicated treasury department, this Quick Scan can help them to determine how to manage the treasury. This can be done with own resources and/or you can also consider outsourcing some tasks. This can be very helpful for the development of your company.

How to start a Treasury Quick Scan?
Simply send me a mail or give me a call and we discuss the best option for you.

François de Witte

Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult

Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.

 

Introduction of two Community Ambassadors: Francois and Marco

| 11-07-2019 | by Kendra Keydeniers |

treasuryXL is happy to announce a close cooperation with François De Witte and Marco Lassche. As community ambassadors they will contribute to further raise the level of the treasury function, both for the inner circle: corporate treasurers, bankers & consultants, as well for the non-treasurers.

François De Witte has worked over 30 years in banking and is founder of FDW Consult, specialized in finance and treasury consulting. With his broad treasury career, his key areas of expertise are International Payments & Cash management, treasury, working capital management, financing & advisory, open banking, digital banking and IT strategy.

“I am eager to share my large experience in treasury, banking and innovation with the TreasuryXL community” said François.

François will bring added value to the community with its innovative and broad corporate finance and treasury experience. He operates from Belgium.

 

 

Marco Lassche started his ‘World of Treasury’ career in 2002 and has become a professional in  banking, corporate treasury both in large, international corporates as well as mid-sized

companies. In 2018 Marco founded ‘Bedrijfskostenexpert’, a Dutch company specialized in Cost Reduction, working on a No Cure, No Pay

base. Marco his core expertise’s are Cash management, Funding, Risk Management, Setup in-house bank and cost savings.

“I am looking forward being part of this growing treasury community. Let’s take treasuryXL together to the next level as a leading portal for treasurers and non-treasurers.” said Marco

 

Marco will give the community an energy boost and he can’t wait to share his knowledge to enhance the treasuryXL platform. He operates from The Netherlands.

The club of treasuryXL ambassadors now exists out of three: François De Witte, Marco Lassche and Pieter de Kiewit – owner of Treasurer Search.

 

 

“Large corporates invest substantially in continuous improvement and innovation of their treasury function. Mid-sized corporates often miss opportunities in, and pay too much for basic treasury. I think there is a lot to be gained in increasing the acceptance of corporate treasury and its’ development. I would like to contribute.” Said Pieter de Kiewit, owner at Treasurer Search.

 

 

Keep an eye out for these treasuryXL ambassadors, they will deliver useful and inspiring topics throughout the year.

About treasuryXL
treasuryXL is built by treasurers to serve treasurers and non-treasurers. 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 services in collaboration with flex treasurers.
  • a broad network of highly valued partners and experts.

Kendra Keydeniers
Community & Partner Manager at treasuryXL

 

Recap conference Toekomst Betalingsverkeer

| 13-5-2019 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |

Each year in April, the Conference “Toekomst Betalingsverkeer” is organized by Euroforum in Amsterdam. This is a major event in the Payment Business, which gathers over 300 professionals. Several themes relating to Innovations on Payments came up. To start with Patrick Coppens presented an inspirational keynote speech about the Payments Innovations in China, who on this moment clearly is the trendsetter in this area.

The program consisted of several keynote speeches and round tables, where different sub-themes were discussed in small groups. I chaired two of these round table sessions on the topic of: “The View of the Treasurer on Payment Transactions”. In this article I will discuss the takeaways from the round tables I chaired and other presentations I followed at the conference.

To start of my round table sessions, I showed a picture that shows my view on factors affecting the payment landscape:

We also had a lively discussion about this topic where, amongst others, the following points came up:

  • If we move to a 365/7/24 payment systems, all the other components of the economy will have to follow. Real time payments will require “Real Time Treasury”: Will treasurers also have to work on a 365/7/24 basis? According to me, this will not be the case in all the industries, but in certain sectors, like Retail and e-Commerce, this might be the case, or at least treasurers will have to be “on call”.
  • Large corporates will move slower to open banking then Retail and SME, but the shift towards Open Banking and Real Time Payments will also affect them.
  • Beside the traditional TMS players and middleware providers, we will also see an increase in FinTech’s coming up with smart solutions for the SME and Midcaps. They will challenge the incumbent players with more flexible and lower priced solutions. The challenge for them will be to get the trust of the large corporates, which might not be willing to entrust their high volume and value payments to smaller FinTech’s.
  • Currently SMEs sometimes complain about the solutions of the banks. Banks must come up with smarter solutions for the SME, because one day they might become midcaps and corporates.
  • Corporates are interested in the solutions, and do not look through to the components. It is like when you go for an operation to the surgeon: you do not expect him to check the origin of the operation table. Trust will remain important.

We also had an interesting presentation of Innopay, who made a mapping of the different banks in the Open Banking ecosystem. Amongst the masters in openness, we see challenger banks, Bunq, Fidor and Starling bank, the large Scandinavian banks SEB and DNB, and some global banks (Citi and BBVA). The large Dutch banks (ING, RABO, ABN AMRO) are leaders in experience but have currently still a more limited API scope.

Furthermore, there were presentations highlighting the increasing trend of “Tokenisation”. Tokenization is a process of replacing sensitive data with non-sensitive data. In the payments industry, it is used to safeguard a card’s PAN (Primary Account Number) by replacing it with a unique string of numbers. These tokens can then be passed through the internet or the various wireless networks needed to process the payment without actual bank details being exposed. These will provide some benefits such as:

  • Cost savings: Tokenization takes away the burden of managing cardholder data storage in a secured way, hence reducing the costs involved with meeting and monitoring Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.
  • Increased security: If fraudsters manage to steal tokenized data, they cannot use the stolen tokens to pay online since they are unable to link the token to payment information stored securely by the payment partner.
  • Improved user-experience: Tokenization enables merchants to offer their clients the possibility to save their payment details it in a secure manner, so that the next time they make a purchase they do not need to re-enter their payment data. One-click payments significantly increase conversion at the checkout page through streamlining the payment process for shopper.

I also attended the workshop on SEPA Instant Credit Transfers (SCT Inst), where the Netherlands started in Q1 2019 a controlled roll-out.  According to the EPC (European Payment Council) end-April 2019 already 50% of European PSPs (Payment Service Providers support the SCT Inst scheme. The EPC expects that a critical mass of SCT Inst scheme participants will be reached by the end of 2020, particularly in the euro area. However, currently instant payments remain mostly a local initiative, and it will take time to reach a full adoption.

These are my takeaways from the Conference “Toekomst van Betalingsverkeer”. I’’m curious to hear your thoughts about the developments in the world of payment transactions and invite you to discuss further in the comment section.

François de Witte

Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult

Managing Director

CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.

 

Trusted Payments

| 25-2-2019 | François de Witte | treasuryXL |

In any business transaction, there are risks. The Buyer wants to be sure to receive the goods or services before he makes the payment. On the other hand, the Seller wants to be sure to have his money before he releases the goods or deliver the services. The risks increase when the Buyer and the Seller are not within the same country.

In order to bridge this gap, for large overseas cross border transactions, the banks have developed specific services, such as the documentary credit, the documentary collection and the bank guarantees. Whilst these instruments prove to be reliable, they are quite expensive and paper-based, and hence are not suited for transactions of lower amounts or with small margins.

In my current company, SafeTrade Holdings, which deliver services linked to the domestic and cross-border sale of used vehicles, we were confronted with this problem, in particular for the cross-border sales of used vehicles.

At the start, the parties – who do not know each other – do not trust each other. The Seller wants to make sure to get the cash payment at the end of the sale. The Buyer wishes to avoid a risky cash transfer and ensure that the vehicle matches his expectations and that the payment will only be released once the car has been delivered.

Safe Trade has been looking for an innovative service aimed at ensuring payment security. We have discussed with various providers in the market and have found one smart solution, the trusted payment, developed by Digiteal, a FinTech which is also a Payment Institution recognized by the National Bank of Belgium.

How does it work

The trusted payment aims to establish a relationship of trust between two parties carrying out a financial transaction within the framework of a common project (used vehicle purchase-sale, real estate operation, etc.).

The process is initiated by the Seller or an Intermediary who will invite the Buyer to transfer the cash to a trusted account (segregated account), which can be compared to an electronic safe. The money can only be released once both Buyer and Seller confirm the success of the operation to release the money.

The stages of the transaction are the following:

  1. Account creation by the Buyer and the Seller. The Intermediary creates via the Digiteal application a request inviting the Buyer to pay the sale price in the trusted account. The Intermediary will bear the transaction cost.
  2. The Buyer pays the amount of the sales price to the trusted account. The Seller and the Intermediary are notified as soon as the money has arrived on Digiteal’s segregated account.
  3. The Seller, the Intermediary and the Buyer are ready for the exchange. The Buyer verifies the condition and conformity of the vehicle. The Buyer and the Seller validate the transaction through the Digiteal application
  4. Once validated, the sale price is released from Digiteal’s segregated account and transferred to the bank account of the Seller and to the one of the intermediary. The Seller receives the confirmation of the release of the funds in his favour and the money will be on his account within 2 working days at the latest.
  5. The Buyer leaves with the car.

Figure: Trusted Payment with split:

Benefits of the solution and next steps

The main benefits of the trusted payment solution are that it secures a sale transaction. Other benefits include:

  • The fact the all processes are digital and can be processed on an intuitive mobile application
  • There is a full KYC, but this is handled in a user-friendly way
  • The trusted payment supports the split billing
  • The amount to be released to the Seller can be amended.
  • The pricing is competitive

The solution will be extended to other goods and services, where we are currently developing new use cases. We are also examining the possibility to provide alternatives to replace the signing process leading to the release of the funds. One could imagine that at the start of the transaction, the Buyer and the Seller agree on a specific set of documents which would trigger the release of the money through a Smart Contract. This could avoid litigation between the Buyer and the Seller.

François de Witte – Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult; Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.

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Treasury for Dummies: The purpose of payment transfers

| 13-11-2018 | François de Witte | TreasuryXL |

1. Purpose of payments

The payment is the act of paying money to someone or of being paid. Payment transactions (payables, disbursements) can traditionally be split along the way the way the money is transmitted. The most important transmission means are:

  • The physical cash
  • The bank transfer and its variances
  • The card payments.

We have also observed in the last years new payment forms coming up, such as the telecom payments, the mobile payments, e-wallets and the cryptocurrency payments,

Bank transfers (and its variances) can traditionally be split in:

  • Domestic transfers: payments within a country, with the currency of the country
  • Cross-border transfers: payments outside the country or using a foreign currency

In this first article on payments, we will focus on the domestic bank transfers, including the current types payments, their advantages and the attention points, and some other concepts.

2. Domestic Transfers

2.1. Bank or Credit Transfer:

If A needs to pay money to B, then he will send a payment order to his bank (ordering bank), who will in turn debits the account of company A and sends the payment order to bank of the beneficiary (B’s Bank) through the clearing, asking to B’s bank to credit the beneficiary’s account.

The following drawing illustrates the flows:

2.2 Clearing:

Clearing is the system, by which an organization (the clearing house) acts as an intermediary in a transaction, to process reconcile orders between paying and receiving parties. Clearing houses provides smoother and more efficient payment markets as parties can make transfers to the clearing house rather than to each individual party with to whom they pay or from which they receive payments.

Within payments we have the difference between the gross and the net settlement:

  • Net settlement (also known under the name ACH – Automated Clearing House): This is the traditional Approach, whereby the amounts to be paid and received are netted. After agreed upon clearing cycles, the clearing house will pay a net amount to each of the participants, offsetting incoming and outgoing payments. The advantage of this clearing is that it is processed in batch payments and is less expensive. The drawback is that the finality of the payment is only at end of “clearing period”, and that it creates intra-day exposures.
    Examples: UK cheque clearing, BACS, ACH in USA, EBA Step 2 and STET for SEPA payments
  • Gross settlement (also known under the name RTGS – Real Time Gross Settlement): Each payment settles singly and bilaterally across accounts at the settlement bank, usually the central bank. The advantage of this method is that it is more rapid and eliminates settlement risk. However, it is more expensive than the ACH clearing, and hence will be used more for high value and treasury payments.
    Examples: Fedwire in the USA, CHATS in Hong Kong, TARGET in Europe, CHAPS in the UK, DEBES in Denmark, RIX in Sweden and SIX in Switzerland

 Illustration of the RTGS system:

 

2.3 Standing order (also called “recurrent payment”):

This a preauthorised payment under which an account holder instructs his bank to pay on a regular basis a fixed amount from his account to a defined beneficiary. Standing orders are used typically for recurring, fixed-amount expenses (e.g. rental payments, loan or mortgage instalments). They are cancellable at the accountholder’s request.

2.4 Direct debit: Direct Debit:

This is another type of preauthorised payment under which an account holder authorizes his bank to accept debit instructions on his account towards a defined account of a defined creditor. A direct debit is based upon a mandate which is held either by the bank of the debtor or by the creditor. Circumstances in which the funds are drawn as well as dates and amounts are agreed upon between the payee and payer.

This type of payments is typically used for recurrent payments with fluctuating amounts, such as utilities, phone, insurance, credit cards, etc. The payer can cancel the authorization for a direct debit at any time. In addition, several legislations foresee refund periods, enabling the account holder to ask a refund of the amount debited from his account (in the EU for authorized direct debits 8 weeks and for unauthorized direct debits 13 months).

2.5 Urgent versus non urgent-payments:

Most payments are processed as “non-urgent”, enabling the instructing bank to process the payment in batches through the ACH clearing and to take some float. However, for time critical payments, the instructing party can as to his bank to treat the payment order as “urgent”. Urgent payments are usually cleared through the RTGS clearing. If the ordering party respects the cut-off time of his bank (see down below), for domestic payments, the beneficiary is credited the same day with no float. Banks usually charge a higher payment commission for urgent payments.

2.6 Instant credit transfers:

Are a variance of the urgent bank transfer, whereby the money is made available within seconds on the account of the recipient, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In some countries, this is already possible.

Example: SEPA Credit Transfer Instant, Faster Payments Service in the UK, The RTP system which will be launched early 2019 in the US.

3. Some other concepts:

Settlement date is the date on which funds become unavailable for the paying party,  or available to the beneficiary party.

Value dating: applying a certain value date on a transaction:

  • Forward value dating (of Future dating): is the value dating at a moment which occurs after the date that the bank is notified of the transaction
  • Back value dating: is value dating which is retroactive, i.e. prior to the moment of the effective transaction.

Float: the “Bank Float” is the time that elapses between the moment that the funds are unavailable funds for the payer and the moment that the funds available to the beneficiary.

Cut-off time for payments: the point in time before which electronic payments, such as a RTGS or ACH payment, must be submitted to a processing bank for entry into the interbank clearing system. If the payment order is submitted thereafter, it will be executed the next day. The cut-off time is a function of the cut-off time of the clearing system and of the processing time of the ordering bank. In Europe, most banks foresee cut-off times around 15 p.m. for processing ACH or RTGS orders.

4. Some statistics and concluding remarks:

Each year, Cap Gemini and BNP Paribas publish a survey with interesting statistics about payment methods in the world. In their 2018 survey they point out that whilst credit transfers and direct debits remains important in Europe (46 % of the non-cash payment volumes), we see that card payments are becoming more and more important (50 % of the non-cash payment volumes in 2016).

Source: Cap Gemini and BNP World Payments Report 2018

In my next contribution I will go more in detail in the card payments and on cross border payments.

 

François de Witte

Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult

Managing Director and CFO at SafeTrade Holding S.A.

PSD 2 Summer 2018 Update

| 30-08-2018 | François de Witte | TreasuryXL |

In June 2018, I published a Spring Update on PSD2 (Payment Service Directive 2). Since then, things have moved, and hence I found it the right moment to provide an update you on some developments PSD2 and open banking.

Main updates on the regulatory framework

Several member states have experienced in the transposition of PSD2 in the national law. The status (28/8/2018) is as follows:

  • Full transposition measures communicated: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland
  • Partial transposition measures communicated: Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Latvia
  • No transposition measures communicated: Croatia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain

Source : https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/payment-services-directive-transposition-status_en, as updated by information, which I gathered.

The RTS (Regulatory Technical Standards) on SCA (strong customer authentication) and CSS (Common Secure open Standards of communication) will apply in as from September 13, 2019, leaving 18 months to the payment industry to get ready for this new state of play. The EBA (European Banking Authority) has published in the meantime on 13/6/2018 its Opinion on the implementation of the RTS on SCA and CSC, as well as a Consultation Paper on Draft Guidelines on the conditions to be met to benefit from an exemption from contingency measures under Article 33(6) of Regulation (EU) 2018/389 (RTS on SCA & CSC).

The Contingency Measures impose that the ASPSP (Account Servicing Payment Service Provider) must provide a fall back mechanism, i.e. measures that should be taken to restore access to the customer payment account, in case that the API happens to be unavailable. Exemptions can be granted if all the following conditions are met:

  • The API meets the quality requirements defined in the RTS
  • The API has been successfully tested by the market
  • The API has been approved by the competent authority (in Belgium the NBB and in the Netherlands the DNB), which itself should have consulted the EBA, to ensure a consistency of quality criteria for APIs

This is a hot topic, as the cost of a fall back mechanism is quite high, and we expect that the ASPSP will ask exemptions.

 Main challenges

Up to now, some banks had published their APIs (Application Program Interface). We observe that banks remain slow in opening their APIs to TPPs (Third Party Providers), and this for various reasons, e.g. APIs are not yet ready technically, chicken and egg situation with other banks, etc. As a result, some API aggregators screen scraping or reverse engineering to enable to provide for the TPPs (including banks) access to the accounts held at the ASPSPs.

Furthermore, the standards are not yet harmonized throughout Europe. A few working groups were constituted to further elaborate on these standards, the most important ones being the UK’s Open Banking Working Group (OBWG), the Berlin Group, and STET.

Although the adoption of the RTS has provided a degree of market certainty, some articles are still open to interpretation.

The permissible methods of strong customer authentication remain unclear. One-time passcodes sent via SMS are not explicitly allowed or disallowed by the RTS. There is also debate about the dual factor requirement for such an authentication method. This is particularly if the mobile device to which this is sent is already serving as an authentication factor. Would the consumer be required to have an additional device?

It also remains unclear if the exemptions for PISPs on low-value credit transfers (30 EUR and 100 EUR accumulated, up to five transactions) and contactless payments (50 EUR, 150 EUR accumulated, up to five transactions) must be counted together or separately per channel.

National competent authorities will have to balance the convenience, familiarity and inclusiveness of the method against its known vulnerabilities to certain types of attack.

There are also uncertainties on how what the EBA calls TRA (Transaction Risk Analysis) will work in practice. This risk-based approach gives exemptions to strong customer authentication for low-risk transactions, if the Payment Service Provider operates within certain thresholds as to fraud by value bands.

Main opportunities

We see increasingly new business opportunities popping up. PSD2 allows the existing banks to source valuable partnerships pursuing multiple potential objectives. During my contacts in the market, I identified following interesting use cases.

  1. Use cases to improve the consumer banking experience and increase customer control:
  • Offer new payment solutions based on smartphones and apps
  • Facilitate reloading of prepaid cars
  1. Increase customer attraction and retention:
  • Offer loyalty cards and potential gains based on actual spending
  • Offer tools for expense and budget control
  1. Retain clients with multiple banking relations
  • Permit access to all banks’ information through a single user interface
  • Allow clients to deposit cash through TPP’s network
  1. Provide a complete asset overview
  • Provide integrated view beyond PSD2
  • Give overview of all assets (real estate, crypto, cars…)
  1. Optimize internal processes
  • Automate and enhance credit scoring based on data integration
  • Monitoring of loans – Early Warning signals in case of credit deterioration

Conclusion

The banks are slow in opening their APIs, and open banking is not taking off as quickly as expected. Market players need also to agree on common standards for the interfaces. However, there the deadline of 14/9/2019 is approaching and there is no way back

Open banking is a new way of approaching the delivery of financial services for customers, and as such, it requires a new way of thinking and new ways of working. However, I see any new opportunities and use cases.

For your information, there will be on 20/9/2018 in Brussels an interesting conference on “Recent Trends in Payments” organized by IFE. The conference will be chaired by Joan Carette, Partner at Osborne Clarke, with several prime speakers including Begoña Blanco Sánchez, Gert Heynderickx, Cédric Nève, Sébastien De Brouwer and myself. For more information, please go to www.ifebenelux.be/nl/opleiding/actualiteit/services-de-paiement-etat-des-lieux-et-nouvelles-tendances-betalingsdiensten-stand-van-zaken-en-nieuwe-trends.html.

I will also give a one-day training on the subject at Febelfin Academy on 21/11/2018. For more information, please go to: www.febelfin-academy.be/nl/opleidingen/detail/psd2-and-the-open-banking-architecture-addressing-.

 

François de Witte

Founder & Senior Consultant at FDW Consult