Balancing short and long term needs

12-05-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

In the final blog in this series we look at how to identify the right bank connectivity partner for your company to maximise the benefits of open banking.



As discussed previously, current bank connectivity solutions make life easier for corporate treasury and new developments have the potential to deliver major improvements. However, existing solutions are still far from optimal and even new technology will not address every issue.

Therefore, corporates should focus on the business benefits rather than on merely technological aspects when selecting a bank connectivity partner.

A useful first step in this process is to develop a deep understanding of the business case and build management support. Factors to take into account here include the benefits of improved cash visibility; risk management benefits; the opportunity to enhance operational efficiency; and potential security improvements.

Once these factors have been established it may be useful to make an inventory of the project requirements such as:

  • Which banks and jurisdictions need to be accessed?
  • What is the relationship with other services – ERP connectivity, payment hubs, treasury services?
  • How much flexibility is required in light of expected changes in the banking landscape?
  • What do you need to do to benefit from open banking in the future?

Weighing up the value of meeting current needs against the ability to address future requirements is a challenging process. It is important to understand that switching to a new bank connectivity solution can be very disruptive, so there is obvious value in selecting a partner that will be a good fit beyond the short term.

This means identifying a provider that will facilitate migration to future developments without requiring significant change at the customer end.

When selecting a bank connectivity partner you should assess the following aspects of potential service providers:

  • Security: If you rely on a provider for all your bank connections you need to be certain that they behave with integrity and in a secure and reliable way. Can the provider evidence this?
  • Functionality: Does the provider cover the functionality and banks you need to realise your value determination? Depending on your needs this may go beyond payments and reporting and include services such as FX and forecasting.
  • Connectivity: Does the provider deliver the ERP and bank connectivity you need today?
  • Future-proofing: Will the provider be able to move to open banking APIs once the banks make them available for corporates as well as provide APIs to your ERP environment?

This final point is vital – you do not want to select a provider only to encounter implementation issues once new opportunities become available.

To assess your provider’s ability to facilitate future developments, check their current ability to handle external APIs and that they have the right licences and capabilities to connect via APIs to your systems once you are ready.


A reality check on Open Banking

To know more about the benefits of new developments in bank connectivity for treasury and cash management you can download our white paper. It offers insights into how corporate treasurers and cash managers can avoid pitfalls.


Cashing in on optimisation

03-05-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

Careful planning significantly boosts the chances of a cash management optimisation project being implemented successfully. Formulating a comprehensive strategy is the first – and perhaps most important – step a treasury team should take to ensure that a cash management optimisation project delivers the maximum benefit to the organisation.



In this context, there are a number of important considerations that should be part of any project that aims to optimise cash management by using new bank connectivity solutions.

1. Determine value of proposed activity

First and foremost, the treasury team needs to determine the actual value of the proposed activity to the company. This cash management value statement should be supported by management.

Whether the value lies in reduced capital costs, mitigated risks, more efficient payment processes, a less complicated IT landscape or any other area, companies that are unable to articulate the bottom-line value of a project should be very hesitant about embarking on it.

Once the real business value has been identified, the company needs to consider at which managerial or hierarchical level in the overall company structure this value improvement can best be managed. In other words, what is going to be the cash management operating model?

This question can only be answered by identifying

  • What needs to be taken care of centrally
  • What can be done at the operating company level
  • What information should be visible what operational activities need to be executed and where

These and other issues require careful consideration and a robust decision-making process.

From there, the ideal banking portfolio can be derived and the company can determine the banking features and functionality it requires, why these features and functions are necessary, and where they are needed.

This assessment should lead to a minimally required collection of banks and accounts.

Only after this stage has been completed should the company start thinking about actual connectivity solutions and consider questions such as:

  • In which system are we going to manage our cash and execute payments?
  • Do we also need more treasury-oriented functions like liquidity forecasting or managing our currency risks?
  • If no system is in place yet for the management of payments or the treasury functions should we consider sourcing one service that provides these together with the bank connectivity?
  • Which dashboards and user interfaces do we need?
  • Which APIs and/or other interfaces do we need to install?

2. Undertake the project internally or work with partner

The next question is whether the company should undertake the project internally.

This is feasible in scenarios where a corporate possesses the required internal skill sets and competencies and has a simple overall banking and company structure. However, if the business has a more complex banking landscape and/or company structure, it is advisable to work with a specialised partner.

3. How to optimise benefits of Open Banking in future

Finally, the company should ask how it will be able to optimise the benefits of Open Banking in the future. Corporate treasurers need to recognise that they may only execute such a project once or twice in a lifetime, whereas external partners for whom this is a core business will have extensive experience and insights. In that case, it is essential to choose a partner you are confident will be able to service your future Open banking needs without requiring a difficult migration for you.

In the final blog in this series, we will offer guidance on how to identify the right bank connectivity partner for your company.


A reality check on Open Banking

To know more about the benefits of new developments in bank connectivity for treasury and cash management you can download our white paper. It offers insights into how corporate treasurers and cash managers can avoid pitfalls.


Making the most of Open Banking for corporates

20-04-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

Open Banking has come a long way in just a few years. Many banks around the world now offer APIs for account reporting or payment initiation, and several banks also offer other products and services via APIs.



So far, most banks have invested in APIs for consumer banking because they believe they can achieve a competitive advantage, or because they must comply with regulations such as PSD2.

When we look at use cases for corporate banking, the maturity level of APIs offered by banks is still rather low and it is expected that most banks will take a few years to get to the minimum level required for corporate customers.

Corporates typically want to connect their accounting software, ERP system or other software with their banks and using APIs for this can bring a variety of benefits for corporates. But these customers have different needs to consumers and therefore have some specific requirements.

Benefits include:

  • Availability of balance and transaction information in real-time to enable more accurate and timely decision-making
  • Payment execution in real-time, enabling more optimized cash management
  • Fast connectivity to new banks, especially for corporates who work via partners that already have implemented connectivity with specific banks via their APIs

 

However, while banks may be keen to encourage corporates to use APIs they are not a panacea for all bank connectivity challenges.

For example, current APIs often require the use of a bank-specific hardware token or mobile app, which is prohibitive for those clients that wish to work with a number of banking partners. Additionally, APIs delivered by banks often assume that a human is initiating the session whereas corporates may be looking for an automated connection from their systems.

There is also limited standardisation, which means that integrating and maintaining these APIs may require a degree of specialisation that would not be available to most corporates.

When a corporate uses a bank connectivity provider, ERP or TMS provider or other provider that has already integrated the bank’s API it is relatively easy to connect with the bank, especially compared to traditional interfaces such as SFTP or SWIFT.

 

On the other hand, if the corporate has to integrate the API itself, it will become clear that the technical aspect of that process can be rather time consuming because each bank offers its own API and there is no industry standard yet.

So making the most of Open Banking will involve answering questions such as:

  • Which products or services do we need from our banks?
  • Which APIs and/or other interfaces do we need from our banks for those products/services?
  • Can my banks offer the required products or services via APIs?
  • Can these APIs be used for corporate banking processes, meaning can I connect my corporate systems directly and schedule automated interfacing with my banks?
  • Do we integrate the APIs ourselves or will we need a solution partner to do that?

When it comes to future connectivity, corporates also need to consider whether their provider will be able to move to Open Banking APIs once banks make them available and is able to provide APIs to the corporate’s ERP environment.

It would be unwise to select a provider only to encounter implementation issues as soon as these new opportunities become available. Determining whether providers can facilitate such a move involves checking on their ability to handle external APIs (from banks, for instance) and whether they have the right licences and capabilities to connect via APIs to the corporate’s systems once they are ready.

We will explore issues relating to cash management optimisation projects and identifying the right bank connectivity partner for your company in the remaining blogs in this series.

 


A reality check on Open Banking

To know more about the benefits of new developments in bank connectivity for treasury and cash management you can download our white paper. It offers insights into how corporate treasurers and cash managers can avoid pitfalls.


Cobase bank connector for NetSuite

31-03-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

The Cobase Bank Connector app adds to NetSuite an interface with banks. Therefore, employees are no longer forced to perform manual banking activities outside NetSuite and several electronic banking portals accordingly, which may lead to potential errors and security issues. No longer a tedious and time-consuming process for your colleagues. The Cobase Bank Connector automatically downloads bank statements from your banks and uploads them into NetSuite, ready to be picked up for reconciliation. Payments and direct debit (batches) are automatically sent in a secure way to the banks.

Stay tuned as Cobase expects to come up with a similar application for other Cloud ERPs soon!



Out-of-the-box bank connectivity for NetSuite, with over 15,000 banks integrated via the Cobase platform! The solution removes the manual processes to upload payment files and reporting statements. With the Bank Connector SuiteApp for NetSuite, the Cobase platform is fully integrated with your NetSuite ERP system. You can automatically transfer your payment and direct debit (batches) in a secure way to Cobase and with the flexible approval flow, they are transferred to all your banks. Bank statements are automatically downloaded from your banks and delivered in NetSuite, ready to be picked up for reconciliation. Simple!

Cobase Bank Connector – Easy and seamless banking integration for NetSuite

Cobase bank connector for NetSuite has been developed specifically to:

  • Reduce the operational inefficiency of managing multiple bank accounts and payment providers manually.
  • Remove the IT complexity from your organization.
  • Eliminate the security risks of critical information being accessed, amended, or intercepted externally, and invisibly, to your core business systems and processes.
  • Easy automated bi-directional integration between NetSuite, Cobase and all your banks for payment files and reporting statements

Cobase offers off-the-shelf direct connections in the most optimal way to most major global banks. But we also implement on-demand bank connections to all requested banks. We can support this for all required bank protocols, bank security, bank formats and all required payment products in more than 100 countries already

Besides delivering the aggregation platform with portal and the NetSuite bank connector app we also take care of the implementation effort towards the banks and Payment service providers.

Next to delivery of bank connectivity, there is more! Cobase can also offer additional services on their platform like:

  • Payment- and cash management– HUB functionality with centralized user management module
    • Manual initiation of single payments, batches and direct debits
    • Modify payment and batches
  • Easy connection with the payments and reporting flows of PSD2
  • FX dealing and hedging, with an easy hedge tool to manage your risks.
  • Liquidity forecast module, to analyse your balance and cash position.
  • Robo-assistant to monitor your balance positions.

All modular-based, meaning you only pay for what you use!

Simple!

 

Key Benefits

NetSuite integrated solution: Cobase bank connector for NetSuite is an easy to install built for NetSuite solution to connect to the Cobase platform. It can be used for both payment file upload and bank statement download to your banks.

Eliminates manual and inefficient processes: Cobase Bank Connector SuiteApp for NetSuite automatically transfers your payment files via Cobase platform to your banks and downloads the bank statements back in NetSuite ready to be picked up by your reconciliation tool.

Be compliant with your risk policies: Eliminating the touchpoints where a payment (batch) can be changed reduce your operational risks.

Integration to all possible banks and PSP’s: Connection via the Cobase multibank platform to all banks in a centralized way

Supported by a professional implementation team: Your bank connectivity setup is guided by a professional team that communicates with you and your banks to set up the connections in the best and fastest way.

Easily extendible with additional cash management and treasury modules: integrate with a real (mini) Treasury Management System

Summary

Cobase Bank Connector for NetSuite is a ‘Built for NetSuite’ solution which helps organizations eliminate inefficient and risky manual processes to:

  • upload payment files to your banks
  • download reports and statements from all your banks

Features of Cobase Bank Connector

Seamless Bank Integration

  • Cobase manages the integrations from the platform to most major national and international banks and payment service providers (PSP’s) as standard
  • All kinds of bank protocols and interfaces supported (EBICS, SWIFT & H2H (PSD2) API Integrations)

Simple, Secure & Controlled

  • Manage permissions and access at the user or role level
  • Full audit trail of all actions including time, date and user stamp
  • Multi-factor authentication to log in to the Cobase portal

Single Point of Access to all Accounts

  • No need to log in and out of individual electronic banking portals

Extendible with Additional Cash Management and Treasury Capabilities

  • Payment and cash management with centralized user management module
  • Easy connection with the payments and reporting flows of PSD2
  • FX dealing and hedging, with an easy hedge tool to manage your risks.
  • Liquidity forecast module, to analyze your balance and cash position
  • Robo-assistant to monitor your balance positions

 


How companies can improve their multibank cash management

07-02-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

 

The complexity of corporate structures and the disparate relationships that develop over the lifetime of an organisation mean managing bank interactions has become a complex task.



Multiple banking relationships

Businesses can grow through mergers and acquisitions. These enlarged organisations often comprise multiple subsidiaries working in several different currencies with a variety of banks with which they will typically hold numerous accounts. Making smart cash management decisions requires tactical and strategic decision-making, which can often be overshadowed by operational demands.  Corporates with multiple banking relationships will find managing payments and cash a cumbersome process that involves logging in and out of different bank portals and managing disparate authorisation schemes while trying to ensure that bank data and data in ERP or accounting systems is synchronised.

In some organisations, managing cash positions over multiple banks and accounts remains a manual process, increasing the possibility of human error. When looking to execute sophisticated liquidity forecasting and/or manage foreign currency exposure, this process may become significantly more difficult and risky. At the heart of these challenges lies the current state of connectivity between ERP/accounting systems and banks. The available integrations can be cumbersome, resulting in lengthy IT projects.

Room for improvement

As a result there is scope for significant improvement in this area, which can be achieved through the use of specific solutions centered on connectivity.  Optimally managing payments and cash requires seamless, robust and real-time connectivity between banks and financial systems and the execution of all payment and cash management tasks in the company’s administrative environment or another single user interface dedicated to this task. Solutions that can help corporates gain visibility into their overall cash positions and run an efficient payments operation across the whole company do exist. Banks do provide solutions to let companies connect their ERP or accounting systems to their bank accounts. Companies who do all their business with a single bank should be able to access a portal and get connectivity to their back-office functions in a rather efficient way.

Efficient bank connectivity

However, for corporates that have significant business with multiple banks, the situation is more complex. A single bank will not be able to provide a robust solution to reach all other banks. Most certainly not with all sorts of different payment formats and products, bulk payments and local reporting standards have to be used. In this scenario, corporates are faced with a vast amount of workarounds, dedicated applications, and interfaces to perform cash management across their banks.  It is not hard to envisage the high degree of inefficiency and risk introduced to the process by this way of working. These drawbacks have been highlighted in various research reports where corporate clients are asked about the biggest challenges they faced when integrating with a bank.

Efficient bank connectivity is the first step towards optimized multibank cash management. Once this foundation is in place it can be combined with applications that can efficiently manage the bank accounts, and the overall solution can be further optimized to perfection.

 


A reality check on Open Banking

To know more about the benefits of new developments in bank connectivity for treasury and cash management you can download our white paper. It offers insights into how corporate treasurers and cash managers can avoid pitfalls.


A reality check on Open Banking and other new bank connectivity solutions

17-01-2022 | Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn |

New developments in bank connectivity will enable major improvements for companies working with multiple banks. There are however conditions to successfully implement new bank connectivity solutions.



Reading the Cobase white paper: ‘New developments in bank connectivity – benefits for treasury and cash management’ will prepare you for the future.

The key messages of this white paper:

  • Working with multiple banks, treasury and cash management is far from an easy task
  • Current bank connectivity solutions make life easier but are still far from optimal
  • Real-life practical examples do prove the business value of improved bank connectivity
  • To avoid pitfalls, corporate treasurers and cash managers should carefully strategize before deploying new bank connectivity solutions
  • In selecting a bank connectivity partner, one must focus on the business benefits rather than on merely technological aspects

 

Make sure you’ll be able to make the right decision and download the free white paper.


How Cobase is using Cloud Technology to build and grow its Fintech Solution

22-11-2021| Cobase | treasuryXL | LinkedIn

Dutch fintech Cobase is a multibank platform that allows companies to manage accounts from many different banks via a single platform that includes a central Payment Hub, Cash Management and Treasury modules. Born in Azure, the company has made cloud technology the very foundation of its solution and the key to its current and future operations. Azure is helping them to build out their solution at high pace and stay compliant with strict regulations imposed on the financial services industry.

 

 

“We’re passionate about building business applications that drive value for our customers. But being a scale-up, our resources were limited. That’s why having a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach was so important. It kept us agile, flexible – and meant we could focus on innovation and delivering applications for our clients rather than spending time and talent on running our own datacenter and underlying IT infrastructure.”

Cobase CEO Jorge Schafraad is describing the culture of innovation that his company strives to promote, and how cloud technology is helping to achieve it. A fintech scale-up based in the Netherlands, Cobase prides itself on leveraging innovative technology to serve corporate clients and the banking sector.

Born in the cloud, the company has been running on Azure PaaS since it was founded. This is playing a key role in helping them venture into the fintech market, a fast-paced and competitive industry where agility and ability to innovate are essential requirements.

With no legacy hardware and software to worry about, Cobase’s PaaS approach has freed them to focus resources away from the infrastructure requirements that come with starting a company – and focus on their core business.

“All we want is to focus as much as possible on application development and providing functionality to our end users, to our customers,” he continues. “And at the same time, we want to invest as little as possible on developing underlying generic infrastructure.”

 

A greenfield opportunity too good to be missed

 

Founded in 2016, Cobase has developed a platform that helps companies access and manage multiple accounts at many different banks from a single platform. “If a company has 10, 20 or even more banks that it does business with, the last thing they want is to have to log onto multiple banking applications and connect their ERP system to each bank individually,” Schafraad explains. “So we’ve built a solution to help them manage that.”

The Cobase platform extracts and puts together data from different banks and customers, while also providing its users with a single place of access to manage and oversee their accounts.

Looking back at Cobase’s early days, Schafraad recalls how taking a cloud-native approach helped him get the company up and running in what was, and still is, a heavily regulated industry.

“We started five years ago, and were deciding whether or not the cloud was advanced enough to support our business,” Schafraad says. “In fact, we came close to being one of the last scale-ups to buy their own hardware… thankfully we didn’t go down that route!

“In the end, we went all in on Azure Platform as a Service. We have no server hardware at all – nothing but laptops and some printers. We realized that we had this great greenfield opportunity ahead of us. We had no legacy applications, and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”

Cobase saw Azure as the ideal cloud solution for its need to comply with the certifications and strict requirements that come with operating in the finance sector, supervised and regulated at both a national and international level.

For scale-ups like Cobase, this is often a complex and costly process that requires a lot of time and resources. “We know that Azure has been built for the finance industry with these regulations in mind. This helped us make sure that our platform and the Azure organization behind it were compliant and able to be fully audited as needed,” he says.

“That was a significant driver for us, as it allowed us to focus our resources on building applications on top of our compliant platform.”

 

How Azure is empowering Cobase’s work

 

In the space of five years, Cobase has been able to consolidate its presence in the industry and now employs 70 people. Five years since its launch, the company is enjoying an agile and dynamic environment that gives its developers the freedom to focus on developing services and expand the company’s offerings.

“Being on the cloud makes everything easier, for example when it comes to setting up new environments or experiment with new components,” says Schafraad.

“The agility we have is, in one word, fantastic. We can try and test new innovative solutions and make informed investment decisions on whether to proceed or stop and trial different avenues. This fail-fast approach that Azure enables really empowers us to grow.”

This also translates into enhanced scalability for Cobase, which has educated its staff on how to consume cloud services in a structured, cost-efficient way. The staff is now enjoying being able to modify the platform fast and efficiently.

“Our applications are built and deployed in Azure DevOps and then land on an Azure Kubernetes Services clusters,” explains Schafraad. “This helps us to make our cloud environment more elastic and more agile when it comes to scaling.

“Many financial institutions operate in an environment where ordering a new server or other IT components could take months, we can make changes within minutes,” he says.

“This is better for the company, but also for the people working in our teams, as it brings so much more fun to their jobs and less frustration.”

 

Building a partnership based on trust

 

The successful implementation of Azure PaaS persuaded Cobase to expand its range of Microsoft products. Their infrastructure predominantly runs on Linux, while Azure Kubernetes Service is used as a container orchestration platform.

Alongside Azure DevOps, the company has rolled out M365 for its entire workplace environment. They’re now running data both on Microsoft Azure SQL and through Open Source Databases like MariaDB on Azure. Power BI is also being used for low-code, no-code purposes and to set up data reporting.

As Schafraad explains, what really set Microsoft apart from other vendors was its availability to meet Cobase’s legal and compliance demands – which helped them to create a strong foundation based on trust.

“Since our very beginnings, our relationship with Microsoft has been more than what you would typically expect from your vendor,” says Schafraad. “We were a very small customer for Microsoft, so looking back at the amount of attention we received, we couldn’t be happier.”

He recalls creating an environment of mutual trust and cooperation early on. “When we started, we certainly needed some education on how to operate in the cloud, and Microsoft really helped us with that,” he continues. “And that proved to us that we could trust them, they really wanted us to be successful.”

“It was a fast-track experience for us especially form a technology perspective, as having Azure available for us right away helped us kick things off rapidly and effectively.”

 

Paving way for more collaboration

 

As Cobase continues to navigate the financial services sector, its relationship with Microsoft has developed into a true partnership. The two have now become each other’s point of reference, with Microsoft providing the solutions and Cobase helping to bring new customers to Azure.

“We’ve reached a point whereby if I need a specific solution or technology, the first thing I’ll do is ask Microsoft if they have it or plan to deploy it soon,” comments Schafraad. “And even if it’s not in the cards for a while, I’m happy to wait for its release – like the new Confidential Computing concept that’s in development.”

Looking ahead, this collaboration will continue to play a crucial role for Cobase. “If we grow as a business, then we will need more Azure resources, we will need more of everything, more machines, more memory, while also remaining capable of controlling our costs,” he concludes.

“What we ultimately want is to keep everyone focused on value creation and delivering for our customers and having the right set of tools and infrastructure is crucial.

“Whatever these will be, we know that our partnership with Microsoft will continue to provide them.”

 

Question treasuryXL Panel #2 | How is PSD2 being applied in a business context?

12-10-2021| treasuryXL | Cobase |LinkedIn |

treasuryXL is the community platform for all your relevant treasury questions.

We received the following question from one of our followers…

 

QUESTION

“As a treasurer, efficient and risk-free handling of payments and reporting are top of mind. In the daily news I read a lot about PSD2, but why don’t I see much of this being applied in a business context?”

ANSWER

We asked for assistance of our highly valued partners to answer the question: Joost Kevelam, Head of Sales and Head of Financial Markets & Risk Solutions at Cobase.

With his expertise he could help out our contact perfectly!

Joost Kevelam responds:

“That is a great question. Today PSD2 is very much geared towards retail users. For corporate usage, we see three key hurdles that need to be cleared.

Firstly, for reporting purposes PSD2 still demands use of bank-specific tokens; either for periodical consent (for reporting) or for each payment. For treasurers that have several banks this is prohibitive.

Secondly, corporate treasurers want to connect in such a way that they can do all their cash management tasks in their ERP and the ERP then connects (unattended) to all their banks. The banks’ PSD2 (or Open Banking) connections often do not support these patterns.”

 

Lastly PSD2 protocols vary wildly across banks, there is no standard yet. Developments in the right direction are unfolding slowly.
In the meanwhile there are solution providers in the market that offer much of the touted future PSD2 benefits, but with technology that is already easily available today (e.g. swift, host-2-host and other APIs). If you select a provider, please consider whether they have the license and capability to easily migrate you to the PSD2/Open Banking interfaces once they are suitable for corporate usage.
Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss how these technologies can make your life as a treasurer easier.

Do you also have a treasury related question? Feel free to leave your question at our treasuryXL Panel. The panel members are willing to answer your question, free of charge, no commitment.

 

 

 

 

17 Main Features of the Multibanking Platform for Corporates

25-08-2021 | Cobase | treasuryXL | Corporates use Cobase to manage their bank accounts at many different banks. The platform can connect with almost every bank in the world. What are the main features of this platform?

Cobase Webinar | FX Module

07-07-2021 | Cobase | treasuryXL |

Our Partner Cobase operates independently under its own brand and under its own management, at arm’s length from its main shareholders ING, Nordea and Crédit Agricole. Tuesday July 13th at 13:00 CETe, Cobase is showcasing their FX Module. If you want to experience how to simplify the corporate FX workflow and automate the hedging process, we’d be excited to welcome you to their webinar.

13 July 2021 | 13:00 CET

REGISTER HERE