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

06-09-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

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

Understand the current TMS space and its benefits

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

It also discusses:

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

Download it now!

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

23-08-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Cloudiness in Libor Transition?

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

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

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

Arguments for alternative rates

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

Time is running out

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

Treasury systems support all outcomes

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

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

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

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

14-07-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

How a Treasurer can really add Value

28-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

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

The Post-Pandemic Treasurer

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Treasury can add Value

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

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

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

Measuring the impact

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Digital Currencies | Not Ready for Corporate Treasury

15-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

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

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

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

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

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

Why CFOs Should Foster Stronger Relationships with Banks

01-06-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

CFOs are the custodians of financial growth for enterprise business, and a key part of that role is to build and foster mutually beneficial relationships with banks and funding partners. Since banking relationships are built upon the provision of services; whether those are lines of credit, daylight overdrafts, bank account reporting, payments, foreign exchange or concentration / pooling structures, CFOs can and should maximise the value derived from partner financial institutions.

One of the first mistakes a CFO or finance professional can make is in selecting or expanding a relationship with a bank ill-equipped to handle the global nature of their business and geographic footprint.

For example, banking relationships have implications across borders as many strong financial institutions are partnered with local banks or their own local branches providing much needed local expertise. Navigating difficult tax and reporting requirements, local format and regulatory requirements or unique depository scenarios all call upon strong relationships with banks familiar with your localisation needs.

Automating your banking interactions and reporting with technology is an area of concern.

In this scenario, CFOs are not able to take advantage of the full range of banking services since lapses and gaps in technology solutions do not provide for straight-through processing of payments or the automatic posting of cash and transactional details from bank-provided daily bank statements. Banks have evolved their services to provide much more flexibility and sophistication with regards to intraday bank statements, high levels of detail within bank statements and the frequency of sharing this information up to 4 to 5 times per day. Without the right technology solution to handle cash and liquidity forecasting, CFOs are leaving value on the “proverbial table” in the form of lost opportunities to invest, grow the business, or mitigate risk. Meanwhile, the lack of finance and treasury tools and automation associated with technology solutions, keeps staff tied to daily, tactical tasks versus a focus on strategic support and projects.

How well do CFOs understand the full potential of their banking relationships?

CFOs must be involved in understanding the health of the banking relationship and managing, or at least receiving updates on banking scorecards and other metrics to ensure the bank relationship is being leveraged to its full potential. For instance, more than ever, banks often provide or are partners in enabling Supply Chain Financing or Discounting scenarios to help both sides of the financial supply chain achieve their objectives. CFOs, again, must leverage their banking relationships while coupling them to technology options such as a solution with Dynamic Discounting or Supply Chain Finance to maximise bank services.

Additionally, visibility to liquidity in near or real-time is a must-have for CFOs.

Liquidity planning is critical for CFOs in good times and in bad. Historical market drops have highlighted the importance of having real-time access to information about your total liquidity position, understanding what level of cash is flowing through all systems, and what level of liquidity can be allocated to invest in growth opportunities or simply pay employees. CFOs in many cases can partner with banks to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. At the end of the day, Treasurers provide the CFO with the assurance that assets are safeguarded and the organisation has the liquidity required to meet obligations and fund strategic decisions. This is only possible if they too have immediate visibility into their positions.

Finally, there is risk in having all of your eggs in one basket.

CFOs should have a backup plan – having your liquidity, services and debt instruments with one bank can prove to be risky. When financial crises strike from internal or external factors (like margin calls, bankruptcies, etc.), these financial risks are mitigated when the CFO has a back-stop and other banking partner options to keep the lights on and the supply chain flowing. Having major and minor banking relationships can help keep banks competitively working for you while giving your organization financial and liquidity options to keep operations moving.

Liquidity Benefits From Dynamic Discounting in Supply Chain Financing

10-05-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

It might not always be obvious where business can learn lessons from somewhere like yacht racing, particularly in more specialist fields like Supply Chain Finance and Dynamic Discounting. But there are often uncanny parallels from this sport and finance, when both seek to deploy serious sums of money and leading-edge technology to deliver the marginal gains that can mean the difference between winning and losing.

I thought this was particularly evident in the recent America’s Cup yacht racing challenges in New Zealand. Those AC75 mono-hull super yachts that raced around the bays off Auckland often travelled at a logic-defying 40-50 knots, twice as fast as the winds that powered them and seemingly in defiance of both gravity and conventional sailing speed barriers.

Liquidity Made Good

The key to having one AC75 go faster than an almost identical competitor is the ability to analyse masses of data points in real-time to make the required adjustments to sails, rudders, weights and foils in order to attack the optimum route to the finish at maximum speed. It’s a concept called Velocity Made Good, with VMG now the go-to acronym that defines winners in America’s Cup racing. Perfecting VMG was the reason the New Zealand boat successfully beat its global challengers – again.

I was particularly struck by how this VMG-led transformation of yacht racing, now cascading down from the pinnacle of the sport to the club level, is not dissimilar to how a focus on technology-led cash and liquidity management is liberating corporate balance sheets. We could even refer to it as Liquidity Made Good, where, by the way, velocity also matters.

New Level Playing Field

The deployment of more powerful technologies can improve decision-making, release resources from previously opaque silos and supply chains, and deliver new competitive advantage. Historically this was only available to those high-tech firms and financial institutions with deep pockets, just like the owners of America’s Cup yachts, because of the almost prohibitive cost of computing power, data storage and analytics.

But cloud-based software platforms, the blossoming of data analytics, ubiquitous access to near-unlimited data storage and the power of connectivity-as-a-service now ensures, like in yachting, that these benefits filter down from the elite to level the playing field.

Greater Flexibility, Visibility

In particular, the once sleepy backwaters of trade finance are now waking up to new opportunities to maximise cash resources in ways that not only strengthen supplier relationships, but also enhance Corporate Social Responsibility credentials. Early Payment Discounting has been around trade finance for many years. But persistent, ultra-low interest rates and expectations of greater flexibility now demand more creative solutions from Treasurers. Answers to which technology can now help to provide.

Within the broader field of Supply Chain Finance, firms can now use technology to transform early payment schemes into Dynamic Discounting. These can be deployed as an integral part of wider working capital management, where better visibility can optimise liquidity and improve profitability. It might seem just a simple method of paying invoices earlier, particularly for businesses with surplus cash that can benefit both parties involved. But how it is managed becomes critical to the outcome.

Win-Win Solution

For Dynamic Discounting to succeed, it needs to be sufficiently flexible (dynamic) as to how and when suppliers are paid, with payments made prior to due dates at a discount to original invoice values calculated on a sliding scale. This means that the earlier the buyer pays a supplier, the greater the discount. The discount is therefore “dynamic” in relation to the number of days until the invoice due date and avoids the previous “cliff edge” difference between simply either having a discount or not.

Most importantly, suppliers get continuously paid earlier, which improves their liquidity position and which could then allow them to pay their own suppliers earlier, invest more in their business or alternatively just do more business with the buyer.

Funding Flexibility

For a cash-rich buyer operating in a low interest environment, the benefit is obvious. Rather than leaving liquidity in a low-interest account, it can pay large invoices early to receive additional discounts and strengthen profitability. For instance, if a buyer receives a 2% discount for paying a 90-day-net invoice after 30 days, it can invest the amount for 60 days and receive a return. This is the equivalent of a just over 10% annual return on capital that would far outweigh any loss of interest.

The buyer is fully in control of how this program is run, determining how much funding capital to set aside and adjusting that capital as seasonal liquidity fluctuates. Any seasonal liquidity issues could then also be managed by pairing the dynamic discounting program with a traditional SCF program. This would also allow the flexibility for third-party funding to fill any gaps that emerged due to potential, or periodic, lower cash balances available for the original arrangement.

Besides earning a return on excess cash, Dynamic Discounting can also reduce supply chain risks (in that financially more stable suppliers mean reduced supplier risk) and then strengthen supplier relationships. Conversely, on the supplier side it improves cash flow and provides early payment options, both of which save time, puts cash into accounts sooner and increases liquidity visibility. Benefits everywhere!

CSR Benefits – Risk Free Returns

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there are other compensating benefits to offset the initial costs of implementing a modern Dynamic Discounting plan, not least of which can be a significant increase in ROI on otherwise dormant cash without increased risk. After all, you are only effectively paying existing suppliers early, who you have to pay anyway, free of any additional counterparty risk.

And, as I mentioned earlier, today’s much more keenly scrutinised CSR credentials can also be significantly burnished by the support provided to often much-smaller suppliers down the food chain. That can then be more widely communicated directly to CSR scoring tables which, in turn, recognise responsible buyers and suppliers.

So, to get the maximum benefit of the wind in your sails and the best performance from your assets, make sure you use the right technology to strengthen decision making. After that, understanding the challenge, minimising the risks and reaping the mutual rewards of Dynamic Discounting will enable much smoother sailing and help you optimise your liquidity!

 

How to Prepare for a New Era of Real-time Banking and Payment Services

20-04-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

An active liquidity network allows companies to avoid multiple costs and delays by globally managing liquidity across their subsidiaries. With 500 banks involved and over 40,000 payment formats to use, this is already a reality for over 2,000 Kyriba clients.

I am often asked, what is an “Active Liquidity Network”? Actually it’s the very foundation of the Kyriba platform, but let me use a simple example to illustrate what it is and the difference it makes.

Technology is providing us with so many great options for everyday life activities. Take the humble takeaway. Not so long ago you’d call up, your order would be placed in a manual ordering system, food would be prepared and then it would be delivered. Today the takeaway experience can be very different. You will order on a mobile device or with a delivery service or by voice or Messenger. The delivery service tells the kitchen what food to prepare, conducts all the billing and organises the food to be couriered to you. While the cooking of the food is still manual, everything else is managed by cloud-based technologies, and you have lots of options, each with their own take on how to make your takeaway experience better, faster, cheaper.

The same thing is happening within businesses. SaaS technology enables your corporate teams to work more autonomously with a resource-planning package that is more bespoke to their task. The original ERP is being unbundled and focused on aggregating accounting entries from various other systems. These bring great benefits to your company’s ability to compete in the marketplace, making you better, faster and cheaper. But given that many of these tools are able to instruct or make payments, this introduces a hazardous landscape for currently accepted liquidity management and control practices.

The problem is further exaggerated by the global expansion that has taken place in the last 20 – 30 years. Technology isn’t just providing more options for how a corporate plans its resources. It’s also providing better, cheaper, faster options for how payments are made and received. Each approach has its own pros and cons. The upshot is that there are many more providers today conducting more payments in more innovative ways, but this innovation, while opening up new choices, also makes the payments landscape more complex.

All this hasn’t stopped an explosion in electronic payment volumes. This is an unstoppable trend that demands a more robust way of controlling and managing payments in and out of business of any size, just as a restaurant receiving 1,000 takeaway orders a night will need to move away from servicing orders on pen and paper. The risks, the costs, and the lack of speed and optimisation are all too great.

The challenge you face

Now, let’s look at a corporate example to illustrate the challenge. Let’s assume a multinational group has a subsidiary in Birmingham, in the UK, which needs to make payments for goods and services to suppliers in Romania and Turkey. The subsidiary has its operating bank account with TSB and is using the bank’s SMB portal to manage cash and make payments. Its ERP system is connected with the bank’s portal for automatic payment file upload. At the same time, the company has subsidiaries in Romania and Turkey that also have a similar setup with their local banks. It all looks good and well-automated everywhere.

But to actually make a payment to a Turkish or Romanian supplier, the Birmingham-based subsidiary’s treasurer has to go through the following steps: approve a foreign currency payment; agree to the exchange rate offered by the bank, which is given without reference to a spread of interbank rates; wait for one or two days for the other FX rate to settle; wait one or two days more for the payment to be cleared by TSB via Swift and the corresponding bank network; wait some more until the supplier confirms they have received the funds and made a shipment; and finally reconcile it all manually with the ERP system.

As a result, the subsidiary incurs the FX spread, swap rates on every payment up to 100 basis points, and interbank transfer fees for every payment of £20. There are also three further delays before the funds reach the beneficiary accounts and manual reconciliation of the ERP. And that happens with every payment for every subsidiary every day!

It’s a pity that the Birmingham-based company doesn’t know that group company subsidiaries in Romania and Turkey have plenty of lei and lire in their local bank accounts. Or that they are connected to their domestic clearing systems providing same day or in real-time clearing and automating confirmation, or no fee at all. Or that there was a better, faster, cheaper payment option the corporate could easily connect to.

How an Active Liquidity Network works?

Let’s look at a different way of doing this. Imagine that the group chooses Kyriba and gets on board the Kyriba global SaaS platform. All of its subsidiaries – including those in the UK, Romania and Turkey as well as headquarters – and all of those subsidiaries’ ERP systems – are then connected to Kyriba for payment, invoicing, and cash flow upload as well as for GL entry reconciliation. Over 2,000 customers and 65,000 legal entities are live today. Kyriba offers automated bank connectivity via secure SFTP and now bank API with more than 500 banks worldwide and growing. And our bank format libraries have more than 40,000 formats and variances supporting payment originations from more than 100 countries in payment delivery to more than 130 countries. Using Kyriba, the payments submitted by the UK subsidiary will be automatically converted to the relevant domestic clearing formats and submitted to those banks the same day.

What difference does that make? With the Kyriba platform the group can internalise and optimise its payment flows. It can see cash balances and cash forecasts across all currencies and bank accounts in real time. A treasury team using Kyriba Cash Forecasting and Kyriba In-house Banking Module can net the outflows by currency and use the market to square off or net the currency positions. As soon as the payments are acknowledged by the banks in real-time or (worst case) next morning, the confirmations and automated dual entries can be imported into the UK subsidiary’s ERP for automated reconciliation.

Better still, the company can use offers like Kyriba Pay, powered by partners like NatWest, that offer competitive and transparent FX spreads with no hidden fees attached. They can choose to use the liquidity they have in lei, lire or other currencies to make the payments without FX conversions at all. That means no interbank fees, globally optimising the effects of exposures and costs, and making same-day payments to 130 countries with automatic dual reconciliation.

That’s what we mean by an Active Liquidity Network. Ours is already the largest in the world, and growing by about 30% annually. It is the foundation of the Kyriba platform that enables our Treasury payment factory risk management and supply chain finance applications, as well as many other value-added services. We are already processing 17 million transactions on behalf of our customers on an average day. We will continue to innovate our existing propositions.

The world’s connectivity is moving to open API. We are pursuing that in three ways.

First, Bank API Connectivity: we have completed pilots with two global banks already, and will be delivering many more in 2021. Secondly, ERP API Connectivity, leading to ERP connect on marketplace, and thirdly Kyriba Open API, to turn the Kyriba active liquidity network into an open API platform for customers, partners and fintechs. This is what we call the Kyriba Active Liquidity Network.

It is here right now and you have a choice to make. Deal on your own with the growing size and complexity of managing liquidity at global scale on time, with speed, accuracy and efficiency . . . or join the 2,000 corporations who are doing it by leveraging the Kyriba platform, and really drive the value of your business.

 

Centralising Payments and Fraud Management with Kyriba – Şişecam

30-03-2021 | treasuryXL | Kyriba |

Şişecam is a Turkey-based, multi-national glass manufacturer that wanted to centralise payments, get better visibility of the group’s accounts and reduce the potential for fraud. Kyriba helped them achieved all this – and more.

Barış Gokalp, Head of Treasury at Şişecam explains the background to the project: “when I joined Şişecam, it was very decentralised, with each company managing its own banking operation. We had too many banks, over 60 companies and multiple ERP systems. After 2013 we did a lot of M&A so there were various different ERPs. There was also a lots of connection types, including SFTP, fax and email, with no standardisation. Each payment operation had its own route, which made it hard to manage.”

“We realised that first we had to solve the connectivity issue with the banks. We figured out that we were spending a lot of time answering how much money do we have and also on the banking operations for our payments.”

Levent Coskuner, Managing Partner of ELC Strategy which advised Şişecam, explains the approach taken: “we knew the internal culture and structure of financing at Şişecam, so we were looking for the best global solution. Between his arrival at Şişecam and the end of 2018, Barış and I visited various countries to understand the different options. It was very important that the solution was very scalable and secure – security was one of the main issues. And given that they have multiple ERPs, we needed a standardised approach. Kyriba has the number one SaaS solution.”

The project had several key elements. “The focus was on enabling payments for ERP systems, centralising and securing them,” says Nik Romano, Head of Emerging Markets at Kyriba. “But they also wanted to gain visibility into the group’s bank accounts. Şişecam selected us as much on the capability of our technology from an application perspective as on the capability to enable connections across so many banks and so many jurisdictions.”

When the Şişecam team looked at Kyriba’s references they realised that a lot of companies have worries about transactions, and that was one of the key points in their decision.

“The number of transactions is not important to us, rather the variety of those transactions. We saw that our geographic reach – Kyriba’s and Şişecam’s – matched, and when we visited Kyriba clients to get references the feedback was marvellous!” says Gokalp.

Tackling supply chain finance was not on the initial agenda, but when the Şişecam team visited a Kyriba client in France they realised that they could also use the treasury management system for other parts of their treasury activities. So although they began with account visibility and payment operations, they realised that they could also include supply chain finance, FX management, cash flow management and cash flow forecasting.

“As the treasury director I saw that we could manage all our treasury activities on one platform with many banks, many countries and many companies. Perfect!” says Gokalp.

“We began to go live with the various countries within the Şişecam group, and by the end of 2021 we will have finished that. All the connections will be established and all the payments will be done via Kyriba. We have also begun to sort out the supply chain finance issues and we will plug the banks into our supply chain finance because we know that a company’s strength comes from its suppliers. In addition, we know that we can manage our FX position via Kyriba. So we will look at that and, if we can manage to finalise things, we will also use Kyriba’s cash flow management module by the end of next year,” says Gokalp.

Gokalp agrees that fraud was the key motivation for the group’s top management. “As all treasurers know, we need to do the checks before the money leaves,” he says. “You should establish in your workflow rules, so that if there is some ‘noise’ around a payment, you can stop it. We have begun to follow where the money is going and when it will reach us. I hope that by the end of the next year we will be fully digitalised, which is one of the objectives of our organisation. The payment file will come from the ERP and no one will be able to touch it, it goes directly via Kyriba.”

Full digitisation means that when a file is created it goes directly and securely to Kyriba, through the approval process and on to the bank. The ERP and the accountants can see in a couple of minutes what has happened to the payment and, if there is a rejection or some other problem that is also reflected back to the ERP system. This is a fully integrated process.

As with so many clients, the Covid crisis showed Şişecam just what their new system could do.

Gokalp explains: “When the pandemic hit we were initially using Kyriba with five companies in Turkey, but in two days all the companies were able to use Kyriba for payments. So the need for the people to come into the office for the signatures and approvals – that was all removed. That was a big credibility boost for the project as well. Before, it was very hard to make a payment. You sent it to the bank and then it arrived, or, if it didn’t you just sent it again. But now all this is done in 10 minutes max.”

“At first some people internally were worried about this project, but when they understood what the project entailed, they too wanted to be part of it.”

About Şişecam

Şişecam is one of the biggest glass manufacturers in the world, based in Turkey but with operations in the Eurozone, Russia, India and Egypt. The group manufactures all sorts of glass – table glass, glass packaging, flat glass and automotive glass – and also produces the chemicals used to produce glass. It has 20 companies worldwide and is working with approximately 60 banks.