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Crypto Service Providers bound by the Dutch Wwft obligations

| 05-06-2020 | treasuryXL | Enigma Consulting

The Dutch Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) law, better known as the Wwft, is recently modified and executed. The most obvious change is undoubtedly that crypto service providers have come within the scope of anti-money laundering legislation.

Blog is in Dutch

Wat is er gewijzigd?

In 2018 voerde de Europese Unie een set van wijzigingen door in de bestaande Europese antiwitwaswetgeving. Nu, twee jaar later, is deze actualisatieslag ook doorgevoerd in de Wwft.

De volgende zaken zijn onder andere toegevoegd aan de Nederlandse antiwitwaswetgeving:

  1. De uitbreiding van het toepassingsbereik naar nieuwe takken van sport. Vanaf heden moeten bijvoorbeeld ook belastingadviseurs, kunstdealers en makelaars de Wwft-voorschriften naleven.
  2. Het maximale bedrag voor anonieme prepaidkaarten en van toegestane terugbetaling in contanten zonder klantidentificatie is teruggebracht tot respectievelijk €150,- en €50,-.
  3. Aanbieders van diensten voor het wisselen tussen virtuele valuta en fiduciaire valuta en aanbieders van bewaarportemonnees (hierna: cryptodienstverleners) dienen zich verplicht te registreren bij De Nederlandsche Bank (hierna: DNB).

Waarom zijn virtuele valuta in scope van de wetgeving gekomen

De EU achtte de aanpassingen noodzakelijk omdat het witwasrisico zich meer en meer op voorheen niet onderkende gebieden bleek te manifesteren. Vooral het toegenomen gebruik van virtuele valuta stemde de wetgever bezorgd. Vanwege het anonieme karakter van veel virtuele valuta lenen deze zich immers bij uitstek voor witwaspraktijken. Om witwassen en terrorismefinanciering het hoofd te bieden is daarom de registratieplicht voor cryptodienstverleners in het leven geroepen. Geen registratie betekent dat cryptodienstverlening in of vanuit Nederland niet is toegestaan.

Voor bestaande partijen is een overgangsperiode van zes maanden ingesteld, maar uiterlijk 21 november 2020 moeten ook zij het registratietraject succesvol hebben afgerond.

Hoe gaat registratie in zijn werk?

Voor een succesvolle registratie moeten cryptodienstverleners bij DNB aantonen dat zij er een beheerste en integere bedrijfsvoering op na houden. Het voldoen aan de gestelde voorwaarden vergt nogal wat van een onderneming. Zo moeten cryptoaanbieders een set aan procedures en beleidsstukken overleggen waaruit bijvoorbeeld blijkt hoe onderkende integriteitsrisico’s zijn ondervangen en op wat voor manier het cliëntenonderzoek is vormgegeven en ingericht. Ook dient de organisatiestructuur adequaat te zijn opgezet, waarbij onder een onafhankelijke compliancefunctie aanwezig dient te zijn. Naast de genoemde organisatorische vereisten is ook een toetsing van de bestuurders en aandeelhouders verplicht ten aanzien van geschiktheid en betrouwbaarheid.

Zowel op administratief gebied als voor de praktische organisatieinrichting heeft de registratieplicht dus een grote impact. Indien DNB overtuigd is dat de cryptoaanbieder volledig voldoet aan alle registratievereisten schrijft DNB de cryptodienstverlener bij in het openbare register van cryptodienstverleners.

Piece of cake?

Nou, niet bepaald. Hoewel het niet gaat om een vergunningsaanvraag maar ‘slechts’ om een registratieaanvraag zijn de voorwaarden waaraan een cryptodienstverlener moet voldoen geen sinecure. Witwasbestrijding is dan ook een serieuze zaak.

Flink obstakel

De bijkomende administratieve, organisatorische lasten en compliance-inspanningen vormen dan ook voor menige marktpartij een flink obstakel. Bovendien ervaren de cryptodienstverleners de verwachte doorlopende toezichtskosten als hoog. De registratieplicht heeft de afgelopen periode dan ook al de nodige reuring teweeggebracht in het cryptodomein. Een aantal partijen heeft de ontwikkelingen niet afgewacht en is gestopt of vertrokken naar landen waar het toezichtsregime een stuk gematigder is ingericht. Zo staakte BitKassa per 19 mei de dienstverlening en vertrok cryptobeurs Deribit onlangs naar Panama. De consequentie van een vertrek uit de EU is wel dat cryptodienstverlening hier niet is toegestaan.

Gedegen kwaliteit

Hoewel de vereisten voor registratie in Nederland niet licht zijn, impliceert een inschrijving als cryptodienstverlener wel dat de bedrijfsprocessen van de geregistreerde partij van een gedegen kwaliteit zijn. Dit schept vertrouwen bij klanten en leveranciers en voor veel organisaties is dat een belangrijke reden om toch in Nederland voor een registratie te opteren. 

Vooralsnog onzeker

Voorlopige schattingen van het ministerie en DNB gingen uit van ongeveer 75 registratieverzoeken. Hoeveel van deze aanvragen daadwerkelijk zullen worden gehonoreerd is vooralsnog onzeker. Ter voorbereiding heeft DNB guidance afgegeven die de kans op een succesvolle registratie aanzienlijk vergroten. De komende maanden zullen duidelijk maken welke cryptodienstverleners daadwerkelijk door DNB worden bijgeschreven in het register. Dan wordt ook beter inzichtelijk in hoeverre de registratieplicht het bestaande Nederlandse cryptolandschap wijzigt.

 

Geert Blom

Senior Consultant at Enigma Consulting

From Open Banking to Open Finance: Is GDPR certification the key to succes?

| 03-04-2020 | treasuryXL | Enigma Consulting

PSD2 has now been implemented in Dutch legislation for more than a year. Open Banking is therefore also gaining traction in the Netherlands. In this blog our Partner Enigma Consulting discusses the developments from Open Banking to Open Finance.

Blog is in Dutch

Open banking houdt kortgezegd in dat derde partijen in staat zijn te koppelen met banksystemen. Deze derde partijen krijgen zo toegang tot rekeninginformatie die worden gebruikt om hun eigen diensten te verbeteren. Toegang van derde partijen tot de betaalrekening is alleen toegestaan als aan strikte voorwaarden wordt voldaan. Zo moet de derde partij een vergunning hebben van de toezichthouder (in Nederland: De Nederlandsche Bank) en moeten klanten toestemming hebben gegeven voor het delen van gegevens. Ook moet de derde partij de IT-beveiliging aantoonbaar goed op orde hebben.

Zowel banken als fintechbedrijven hebben inmiddels een aantal vernieuwende oplossingen in de markt gezet waarmee zowel ondernemingen als consumenten meer inzicht en controle wordt geboden over hun betaalrekeningen. Deze oplossingen variëren van de standaard multibank-rekeningoverzichten bij een bank als ABN AMRO tot meer innovatieve toepassingen, zoals bijvoorbeeld de schuldhulpverleningsapp van fintech Buddy. Desalniettemin is de door sommigen verwachte stortvloed aan innovatieve toepassingen tot nu toe uitgebleven.

Van open banking naar open finance

Evengoed, of wellicht juist om die reden, kijken veel betrokkenen al naar de toekomstige ontwikkelingen die open banking mogelijk zullen opvolgen. Het ontstaan van een wereld waarin open finance gemeengoed wordt, is volgens hen aanstaande. Met open finance bedoelt men dan de ontwikkeling waarbij niet alleen toegang tot de betaalrekening mogelijk is, maar waarbij het mandaat zich uitbreidt tot bijvoorbeeld spaarrekeningen, beleggingsportefeuilles, hypotheken en pensioenen.

Zorgen over privacy

In hoeverre open finance daadwerkelijk gemeengoed zal worden in onze maatschappij, is echter nog onzeker. Om een brede adoptiegraad onder het grote publiek te bereiken bestaan namelijk nog enkele significante uitdagingen op gebied van bijvoorbeeld privacy, standaardisatie en tarifering. Vooral de onzekerheid bij consumenten over de effectiviteit van de aanwezige databeveiliging bij derde partijen, vormt een hoge drempel. Zolang consumenten niet zijn overtuigd dat een derde partij de privacy van hun data kan garanderen, zullen zij simpelweg geen informatie willen delen.

Op Europees niveau is bovenstaand vraagstuk ook onderkend. De Europese Commissie (EC) ziet open banking en open finance als een katalysator voor innovatie en wil deze ontwikkelingen daarom stimuleren. Daartoe zijn een aantal maatregelen genomen die moeten garanderen dat een partij die een open finance-dienst aanbiedt een adequaat niveau van gegevensbeveiliging hanteert. Zo is in 2018 de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG) ingevoerd, waardoor gegevensverwerkende bedrijven aan diverse voorwaarden moeten voldoen ten aanzien van databeveiliging. Maar hoe weet een consument nou dat een ‘open finance-dienstverlenende partij’ voldoet aan alle AVG-vereisten?

Om de consument hier meer inzicht en vertrouwen in te geven zijn op Europees niveau richtsnoeren opgesteld door het Europees Comité voor Gegevensbescherming (EDPB, European Data Protection Board), het orgaan waar alle Europese privacytoezichthouders onder vallen. Deze richtsnoeren zijn recentelijk ook in Nederland doorgevoerd. De richtsnoeren maken het mogelijk voor bedrijven om een AVG-certificering te verkrijgen. Door het verkrijgen van een AVG-certificaat kan een organisatie aan haar klanten laten zien dat zij persoonsgegevens zorgvuldig verwerkt en beschermt. Het certificaat toont aan dat een product, app of dienst geheel voldoet aan alle voorwaarden op gebied van gegevensbescherming die de privacywetgeving stelt.

AVG-accreditatie en AVG-certificering in Nederland

In Nederland trekken de Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) en de Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) samen op bij de verstrekking van AVG-certificaten. Dit doen zij door AVG-certificatie-instellingen gezamenlijk te accrediteren.

De RvA is in Nederland aangewezen als de nationale accreditatie-instantie. Deze organisatie verleent toestemming aan gespecialiseerde organisaties (zogenaamde ‘conformiteitverklarende organisaties’ of ‘certificatie-instellingen’) om andere organisaties te certificeren. Dit gebeurt in allerlei werkdomeinen, zoals de gezondheidszorg, de bouw, transport en ook in de financiële sector. Voordat de RvA een conformiteitverklarende organisatie accrediteert controleert zij of de organisatie voldoet aan alle van toepassing zijnde maatstaven en voorwaarden, zoals ISO-normen en/of wettelijke vereisten. Zo waarborgt de RvA dat de certificaten die deze organisaties afgeven betrouwbaar zijn en werkelijk waarde en vertrouwen toevoegen. Doorlopend toezicht op de naleving van de AVG blijft onveranderd een taak van de AP.

Momenteel leggen de RvA en de AP de laatste hand aan de voorwaarden en eisen ten aanzien van de accreditatievoorwaarden voor conformiteitverklarende organisaties op het gebied van de AVG. Wanneer deze actie is afgerond kunnen certificatie-instellingen die AVG-certificaten willen uitgeven daarvoor een aanvraag tot accreditatie indienen bij de RvA. De verwachting is dat accreditering later dit jaar mogelijk wordt.

Sleutel tot succes?

Een AVG-certificaat zal absoluut een boost geven aan de bereidheid onder het grote publiek om persoonsgegevens te delen met gecertificeerde partijen. Essentieel blijft wel dat de consument een aanzienlijke toegevoegde waarde ziet van de aangeboden ‘open finance’-dienst. Daarnaast kent open finance nog andere uitdagingen die een kwaliteitsstempel alleen niet weg kan nemen. Eerder in dit artikel werd bijvoorbeeld al gerefereerd aan standaardisatiebehoeften en tariferingskwesties.

Gelukkig staan de ontwikkelingen ook op deze vlakken niet stil. Zo beoogt het ‘NextGenPSD2’ initiatief van de BERLIN-groep (een internationaal samenwerkingsverband van Europese banken en andere betaaldienstaanbieders) om een eenduidige API-standaard voor gegevensuitwisseling vast te stellen. Ook zijn zowel gevestigde marktpartijen als nieuwe fintechbedrijven druk doende om verdienmodellen rondom ‘open finance’ uit te dokteren.

Of een gezaghebbend AVG-kwaliteitskeurmerk dé toonaangevende driver voor het succes van open finance zal zijn, dat blijft nog even afwachten. In een wereld waar maatschappelijke bezorgdheid over data privacy onverminderd hoog blijft, zal het certificaat voor menig consument het benodigde vertrouwen bieden om gegevens te delen. Ondernemingen worden zo in staat gesteld om het betaallandschap en de manier waarop wij onze financiën beheren de komende jaren ingrijpend te veranderen.

 

Geert Blom

Senior Consultant at Enigma Consulting

TIS is growth champion for the third time in a row and is carrying its success story forward

| 03-12-2019 | TIS |

FOCUS BUSINESS and Statista rank the cloud-based payment expert among the fastest-growing and most promising companies in Germany. 

Walldorf, 28. November 2019. Above-average growth in turnover and staff as well as new and innovative ways of making corporate payment processes simpler and safer – with these qualities TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH) has now established itself on the list of the 500 FOCUS business growth champions for the third time in a row

Statista, the Hamburg-based statistics portal, had created a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing German companies for FOCUS BUSINESS, a well-known business magazine in Germany. 12,500 companies with particularly strong growth in sales or workforce were extracted from two million commercial register entries. The companies must have their principal place of business in Germany and have achieved organic growth. Based on these criteria, a shortlist of 1,654 firms was created and from this ultimately a top 500 ranking of champions who achieved average annual revenue growth of 52 % between 2015 and 2018. The list of 500 growth champions for 2020 was published in edition 3/2019 of the FOCUS BUSINESS magazine.

The fact that TIS is now listed in the ranking for the third time in a row is primarily thanks to the confidence which customers have placed in  its cloud-based payment  platform. The consistent upward trend of TIS also proves that rapid growth is essential in the big context of digitalization. Through features like ERP-integration, payment automation, process standardization, and a single login for all stakeholders to manage bank accounts and payments, TIS customers benefit from improved simplicity and security in handling all their payment transactions and gain greater insight into their cashflow data.

Jörg Wiemer, CEO and co-founder of TIS, proudly tells to the press: “We are delighted and very proud to be among the winners in the FOCUS growth ranking once again. We could only achieve the impressive business performance with the commitment of an outstandingly performing team in TIS, to whom I owe my special thanks. We are continuously working towards the acceleration of our further growth in Europe and in the USA with a solution that is highly appreciated by our customers.”

About TIS

TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH), founded in Walldorf, Germany in 2010, is a global leader in managing corporate payments. The Financial Times named TIS as one of “Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies” for 2019.

Offered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the TIS solution is a comprehensive, highly-scalable, cloud platform for company-wide payments and cash management. For businesses, TIS creates a community of trust and empowers customers to make better decisions with 100% real-time cashflow visibility. Key benefits are lower costs, risk prevention, a higher degree of transparency and fast worldwide roll-outs. For banks and partners, TIS generates growth and revenue opportunities through continuous innovation for better payment experience.

The TIS solution has been successfully used for many years in both large and medium-sized companies, including Adecco Group, Hugo Boss, Fresenius, Fugro, Lanxess, OSRAM and QIAGEN. More than 25% of DAX companies are already TIS customers.

The high level of security and deep integration of the platform with existing ERP systems is certified by ISO-27001, SAP, SOC 1, SOC 2, and TISAX.

Your World of Payments. One Login.

Visit TIS.biz

Trending treasury topics from the Treasury Barometer 2019

| 29-11-2019 | Enigma Consulting | Bas Kolenburg

While the treasury has always managed changes in both financial markets as in the businesses, the pace at which changes now need to be managed is accelerating. In a time of increased digitalisation, payments acceleration and new business models in the whole value chain of payments processes and bank connectivity, treasurers are becoming increasingly keen to leverage on the opportunities.

Treasury Barometer – the report

In the 6th edition of the Treasury Barometer, developed by Enigma Consulting and Rabobank, the trending topics that are shaping the treasury in 2019 and beyond have been explored drawing on feedback from the survey held in mid-2019. This report presents the latest trends and developments and provides a unique and representative understanding of the Dutch corporate treasury landscape.

The Editor Panel consisting of 6 members of the Dutch treasury community,  set the direction of this year’s Treasury Barometer and to monitor the quality and relevance of the content. The 4 content-interviews were again a great added value to the results of the survey, as they gave more insight into the subjects.

Trending treasury topics

This year’s edition walked readers through many of the hot topics that the treasury face nowadays.

Fraud & Cybercrime

Fraud & Cybercrime are actual trending topics as the treasurers are still trying to find the right responses to the increased cyber and (payment) fraud activity, advanced technology techniques and social engineering that is being used nowadays. Although an astonishing 82% treasury departments have been a victim of attempted or actual payment fraud/cybercrime, only 5% of the fraud (attempts) are being reported to the police. People seem to be afraid to be open about the fact that this happened to them so that it will be difficult for the police to solve fraud cases committed by large scale operating gangs.

KYC requirements

Because of the focus on anti-money laundering (“AML”) and the financing of terrorism (“CFT”), there is a lot of pressure on financial institutions to meet their compliance expectations, being forwarded to their clients in the form of increased KYC requirements and more intensive transactions screening.
From all respondent , 91% see that the increased KYC requirements are hindering operational efficiency, the growth and the management of its business and even 24% of all respondents has considered changing banks due to bank-specific KYC processes.

LIBOR phase out

The LIBOR phase out effect will be temporary but will lead to a total rebuilding of the bank’s infrastructure which will be pushed through to their corporate clients, who are just beginning to become aware what is ahead of them. The Barometer reported that only 42% have performed an impact analysis and even 15% was not aware of the LIBOR phase out at all. Industry experts recommend that corporates perform an impact analysis and become operationally ready for the IBOR phase out as soon as possible.

Technology/Innovation

The instant payments schemes and new technology around the world are transforming treasury departments into a world of real time 24/7 liquidity, based on a shift towards more centralised control with local empowerment. With new business models in the whole value chain of payments processes and bank connectivity, banks are rapidly embracing innovations and developing fintechs. The adoption in treasury departments is a mixed bag with an increasing group of early adopters, but also a large group that has difficulties to steer away from current older technology and interfaces.

Treasury Barometer results

Sustainability seems to be established as a core value and has moved beyond the initial hype, but the results of the Barometer showed no increased activity.

Bas Kolenburg from Enigma Consulting concluded: “From this year’s Treasury Barometer, the Fraud, KYC, LIBOR and Technology/Innovation themes are clearly very much on the radar of Dutch corporate treasurers and we are confident that this year’s report is motivating and inspiring for treasury departments. We aim with the Treasury Barometer not to provide an one-way publication but that this will be part of a multi-stakeholder conversation with the Dutch treasury community. The invitation is therefore open for persons to be engaged in future editions of the Treasury Barometer”

The full report is available for download here.

 

 

Bas Kolenburg

Senior Consultant at Enigma Consulting

 

Ready for automated payment transactions? Fully integrated in a few days

| 26-11-2019 | TIS |

Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH (TIS) is the leading cloud platform for managing corporate payments, liquidity and bank relationships worldwide. The company delivers SMART PAYMENTS to help customers make BETTER DECISIONS.

TIS is web-based. That means you don’t have to install any software locally. Save yourself high IT and ERP maintenance costs and connect TIS to your ERP system in a secure, simple and straightforward manner.

Cloud-based: This is how TIS is integrated.

Simple implementation and intuitive operation.

Many companies have to fight against non-transparent and decentralized payment processes due to the accumulation of organizational and IT structures. TIS understand this problem and can provide a solution to both issues. The TIS platform is web-based and is available productively across the whole company in just a few days. It can be integrated seamlessly into your ERP system via a plug-in. Every user, all over the world, can log in to the platform straightforwardly and manage the business processes for the areas for which they are responsible.

TIS Agent: Support for all ERP versions.

No changes to your ERP systems are needed.

Integration of the TIS Corporate Payment solution is independent of your ERP system. Interfaces for ERP systems other than SAP are either already available or they can be easily deployed by using the TIS Agents. Furthermore, interfaces to banks are already available and additional interfaces are continuously being integrated. Connection to your ERP systems can therefore be achieved straightforwardly.

Cost-efficient.

Fast ERP rollouts and lower maintenance requirements.

Reduce your costs by deciding for the introduction of a SaaS solution.  Systems that are located on your own servers will have considerably larger implementation expenses, risks and will involve major IT projects.

There are also expensive maintenance requirements. Every time the payment and bank statement processes between the ERP or accounting systems and the banks are standardized, your IT system will have to be involved. TIS enables fast and cost-effective ERP rollouts, without large IT costs, via the web-based solution. You will therefore save money and simplify your bank communications in the long term.

Particularly easy SAP integration.

TIS Bank Transaction Manager has been officially approved and certified by SAP.

As a certified partner of SAP SE, we guarantee that our SaaS solution is completely compatible with the SAP Business Suite. This means that TIS can integrated seamlessly via an SAP certified plug-in with

SAP ERP

SAP Business ByDesign

SAP S/4HANA

Once TIS has been incorporated into an ERP system, the user no longer has to save the bank files locally and transmit them to the bank. Payments are now triggered in the SAP environment and transmitted directly to the TIS cloud platform. Inversely, bank statements go from the bank to TIS and are collected there by the ERP system. As a SaaS solution, the platform is connected seamlessly to your ERPs, and you can design your national and international payment transaction process efficiently and in a future-oriented manner.

TIS Bank Transaction Manager

Integration of the TIS solutions is thus quick and easy. As soon as the TIS Bank Transaction Manager has been integrated into your business processes, you can centralize your payment process and increase your processing speed and data quality. Reduce errors from manual input and gain valuable time via standardized automation. Depending on what type of support in payment management you require, you can manage your payment processes entirely in accordance with your needs using additional TIS modules.

Visit TIS.biz

Why You Don’t Need a Treasury Workstation

| 11-11-2019 | treasuryXL | BELLIN

Location dependence vs. universal collaboration and access

Often times, terms and definitions change over time; and sometimes terms remain the same but their meaning shifts. Take for example the word “bookkeeping:” accountants nowadays no longer put pen to paper and make manual entries in a book. Transferring this concept to treasury, we only need to look at the name of the department itself. Treasurers no longer watch over dungeons filled with treasure troves and other valuables (maybe with the exception of Fort Knox). But that’s not the only shift in meaning: we can also come across obsolete terms and definitions when it comes to the digitalization of treasury tasks and specifically with the term: treasury workstation.

Looking at search requests in Google, one of the most commonly searched terms in treasury is “treasury workstation” – a term that has been in use for treasury systems for many years. However, we need to ask ourselves if the term and the understanding of technology and processes associated with it are still appropriate today. Should they have long been replaced by other terms?

“Treasury Workstation” – is that what treasury is?

“Treasury workstation” contains the element of “station” that appears to have no place in today’s treasury world: mobile communication and the flexible use of systems are such obvious characteristics of our daily work that a “station” clearly no longer delivers. A workstation is literally stationary and therefore limited: it sits in one single place and is only available right there. Conversely, this is precisely where modern systems differ: they’re web-based and can be used from any mobile device without any limitations regarding security, user-friendliness, and functionality. Indeed, the very fact that modern systems are not stationary makes them so powerful. They’re mobile and any number of people can make use of them from anywhere.

Today, large departments and units need to be able to readily collaborate and exchange knowledge and data; a workstation seems inappropriate to meet these demands and stands for a status quo that IT has long left behind. No one wants to install software on a workstation anymore; no one wants to be tied to a desktop computer. The internet with all its enormous potential drives the optimization of business processes and data communication to the point where companies can no longer afford to back workstations, in particular in treasury.

Collaboration with a Treasury Management System

At BELLIN, their system, tm5, is not a physical workstation limited to a specific location. The system is a web-based and dynamically-integrated platform that excels in ensuring global visibility, maximized security and uncapped work-hours saved. The key ingredient in regard to this article is that the system is web-based, yet accessibly by anyone company wide. We call this our Load Balanced Treasury approach which means no per-user licenses, ensuring subsidiaries can share data seamlessly, profit from real-time transparency, and maximize global security.

While many treasurers still refer to modern platforms as workstations, the distinction is important. Modern, web-based systems are platforms for collaboration, for cooperation and for uniting internal and external parties and partners who all contribute to treasurers always having the information they need to do their job: make decisions that reduce business risk, optimize asset management, manage funding and hedging and give the company the overall stability to meet the company objectives.

This is by no means limited to treasury. Unlike a workstation that is only ever available to the people in one particular office, treasury management systems serve the entire company and people from any department can be involved where needed. This allows treasurers to share the workload, get information first hand and have a fully integrated and connected workflow that ultimately benefits everyone.

Conclusion

Treasury workstations are a thing of the past and platforms like the BELLIN tm5 have long become established as industry standards. Consequently,  it is time we reflect that fact in our terminology in order to find what businesses really need and stop searching for things that were modern years ago. “Station” ultimately suggests inflexibility, stagnation. As time goes by, both terminology and processes are subject to change and move forward – just as treasury does. Perhaps this is just a semantic error or term that has stuck over the years? Either way, as treasury enthusiasts and experts, we are keen to help the industry acclimate to the existing technological ecosystem.

Martin Bellin

CEO

BELLIN logo

Open banking and APIs: transforming the future of treasury

| 05-11-2019 | treasuryXL | BELLIN

Open banking is about much more than advanced technology. It has an impact on business models, processes and ways of thinking – and it will definitely have a huge impact on treasury.

The EU’s revised payment services directive (PSD2) has forced European banks to set up standardised interfaces, so-called APIs, to enable third parties’ technological access to bank accounts. This is an attempt to break up the banks’ monopoly and boost competition amongst payment service providers.

When it comes to payments, PSD2 APIs are currently limited to single Euro payments area (SEPA) single payments. Simply put, they are generally ill-suited for corporate payment processing. Nevertheless, open access to customer and transaction data for third parties represents a radical change that threatens traditional banking business models.

While in the past, banks reigned freely over their customers’ financial data – often keeping them in the dark about margins, fees and transaction routes – open banking makes banking fundamentally more democratic and gives companies much more freedom and flexibility.

How does a company want to handle its payment processing? With open banking, it will be of little relevance to corporates exactly how their payments are processed. As long as the payment goes from A to B, the back-end technology being used is up to the service provider. What will be more significant for corporate treasury departments when it comes to payments is how quickly this information becomes available to them.

Open banking’s impact on cash management

Today, treasurers are blind when it comes to intraday cash flow movements. Depending on the bank, they only receive balance information a few times a day at specific times. This has always been as real-time as it gets. Treasurers who would like to know their account balance at any time and in ‘real, real-time’ need to request this information. But how can you know when to best inquire about your account balance when you have no idea when money will be credited?

Some companies make use of automated requests, managed in their treasury management system (TMS). The system sends scheduled requests to the bank, for example every minute, to check if any new information is available. An analogy would be sending round a company postman to empty the letterbox every few minutes without knowing if anyone has actually posted a letter. This leads to enormous amounts of data and clogs up communication channels and systems, without really solving the issue.

A much more intelligent solution would be to not request the information until it is actually available. For that to work, there would need to be some kind of signal that data has come in – just like the signal flag on American letterboxes. New technologies, such as APIs and WebSockets, enable this kind of reversed order. The bank signals that a new balance is available as soon as money is credited to or debited from an account, and treasurers and other finance professionals can then take action. The same is true for payments, where status notifications for a transaction would be available straight away.

The future of APIs

What will the future look like for banking communication? Will APIs relegate existing technologies, such as electronic banking internet communication standard (EBICS) or SWIFT, to the sidelines? APIs’ greatest downfall is their lack of standardisation. Conversely, complete and powerful standardisation across the SEPA area is the biggest asset of these established communication channels.

In the context of PSD2, there have been various European initiatives to achieve standardisation, for example those of the Berlin Group. However, there is no comparable global initiative, and when BELLIN recently analysed the open banking offering of the ten most relevant banking groups, the discrepancies were staggering. What is needed are suitable enhancements of established technologies that could then be combined with new technologies, for example combining the EBICS protocol with API technology.

And this future is not far off. Massive changes that will impact treasurers’ day-to-day work significantly are just around the corner. Large retailers have already implemented instant payment solutions using APIs that not only enable them to transfer money, but also to receive notifications when a payment has come in as soon as it does. This has enabled them to fully connect payment processing, real-time balance information and customer service.

Direct communication of data between companies and banks is likely to have other, far-reaching consequences for treasury, for example when it comes to FX and risk management. Real-time corporate-bank communication definitely brings challenges for cash management. Banks will have to solve how cash pooling is handled in the future whilst also determining the time on which interest calculations are based. However, with new standards for speed, efficiency and data quality, open banking will continue to revolutionise treasury far beyond 2020.

Karsten Kiefer, Product Manager Solution Management, BELLIN

Karsten Kiefer

Product Manager Solution Management

 

The impact of PSD2 on payment transactions

| 07-10-2019 | TIS |

This September the new EU directive PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) came into force. It is an extension of the Payment Services Directive, which was intended to harmonize the rules for payment products and services. Although this amendment affects every consumer who uses online payment services, and although sufficient notice has been given in advance of the amendment, few people know what the new EU Directive is all about. For this reason, it is not uncommon for bank customers to be confronted with an account blockage after the changeover, when logging into their online bank account, which causes a lot of confusion between banks and customers. As a result, several questions arise:

  • What has changed for the customer as a result of the changeover?
  • Can the new regulation keep the promised security standards?
  • To what extent are companies – especially Treasury- affected?
What is PSD2?

PSD2 is intended to regulate payment services and payment service providers in the European Economic Area (EEA) and throughout the European Union (EU). It aims to make cashless payments more secure, customer data better protected and data transmission over the Internet more reliable. In addition to the changes for customers, who are to experience more security through increased authentication, there are also significant changes for banks. From now on, banks will be obliged to provide third party service providers with access to customers’ account information via a standardised interface (PSD2 API) if the customer gives the consent. For banks, this means that they must surrender a large part of their power of disposal. For customers, this means that they can now make all their payment transactions without having to log into their online bank account. This is convincing for the customers, because specialised fintechs are ahead of banks and offer solutions that allow all your financial transactions – even within different bank accounts – to be carried out with only one application. This is nothing  new in the world of B2B, where corporates use payment solutions with the exact same purpose for years now.

Is PSD2 safe?

A change in the conditions of payment transactions often raises the question of whether it can actually meet the promised security standards. Especially in this case, where customer information is passed on to a third-party service provider. If lacks in security arise, there is a higher risk to become a target for cybercrime, which automatically puts bank customers’ confidential account information at risk. The European Banking Supervision and BaFin are taking it very seriously. In order to make the customers’ choice for the right third-party service provider easier, they provide a directory of reliable, registered and licensed third-party service providers.

PSD2 for Treasury?

Consumers demand real-time, round-the-clock payment services and this demand is growing. This brings changes in payment transactions that have an impact on the businesses, especially on corporate treasury which looks after cashflow. Most up-to-date account information becomes more crucial for a treasurer. The new PSD2 API interfaces could help, since it enables more direct communication with the bank and access to real-time account information.

About TIS
TIS (Treasury Intelligence Solutions GmbH) is the leading cloud platform for managing corporate payments, liquidity and bank relationships worldwide. The company delivers SMART PAYMENTS to help customers make BETTER DECISIONS.

TIS enables companies to make more efficient, more secure and more cost-effective payment transactions. In addition, TIS enables customers to make better decisions when analysing financial and operational performance based on real-time payment flows. All mission-critical processes related to payment transactions are integrated into a multibank-capable, audit-proof cloud platform. This is a single point of contact for enterprise customers when managing and analysing their payment flows across the organisation. TIS take care of managing various payment formats, communication channels with banks, and ERP-agnostic integration. Offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), the ISO certified TIS solutions are quickly up and running without the complexity and cost of a long IT project.

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 will Open Banking impact Treasury?

| 20-9-2019 | treasuryXL | BELLIN

Interview with Karsten Kiefer on open banking, APIs and the future of bank connectivity

With financial data increasingly digitized and moved to the cloud, disruptive approaches have become available to fintechs and corporates have gained access to new and revolutionary opportunities. One such opportunity is open banking, also known as API banking. In this article, we take a closer look at open banking and the potential benefits of current trends for treasurers. Karsten Kiefer, Product Manager and Solutions Manager at BELLIN, introduces us to the latest developments and assesses their impact on corporate treasury.

The European Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) sets rules for access to payment accounts but it has also caused great uncertainty. Is this the beginning of open banking for everyone in Europe? And what does the directive mean for treasury?

One of the provisions of PSD2 forces European banks to provide a standardized access interface, known as API, to third parties, which enables technical access to the bank’s customers’ accounts. This is an attempt by the regulator to break up the banks’ monopoly on account information and to boost competition amongst payment service providers.

The directive clearly stipulates the type of information banks have to give access to and the scope of services associated with it. For example, when it comes to payments PSD2 API access is restricted to SEPA single payments. Few banks, if any, will support bulk payments, FX payments etc. as additional services. This is why for the time being this technology is only of limited use to corporate treasury. It is definitely in no way comparable to established channels such as EBICS, H2H or SWIFT.

Where do you see the main advantages of open banking for treasury? When will corporate financial departments adopt open banking?

Changes have been flooding the international payments sector, and open banking is only one of the waves to ride. Demand is driven by developments in the consumer goods sector, where mobile, real-time payments are rapidly gaining ground, with providers springing up all over the place. 24/7/365 availability of payments services is highly relevant for treasurers. This has also been the driving force behind developments in connection with established channels, such as SWIFT or EBICS, including the SWIFT g4C technology that enables real-time information on payment transactions. For corporates who use a treasury management system with an integrated payments platform, open banking has already become a reality.

How does open banking with a treasury management system work?

A treasury management system with an integrated payments platform, such as tm5 by BELLIN, enables multi-channel access to banks. There are standardized channels for specific regions, such as EBICS, or the BELLIN SWIFT Service that provides access to the global SWIFT Network. Another connectivity option is direct host-to-host connections to specific banks and their networks. APIs represent an additional technology to connect banks and corporates, and in the future, this will become more and more relevant. Today, the BELLIN Payment Gateway enables access to real-time payment transaction information and a company’s global financial status.

Are there any challenges associated with API interfaces?

Many of the banks today that can connect via two or even three channels are working on APIs. So this will become an additional bank connectivity option. However, we need to bear in mind that such an API must bring added value and additional benefits. Otherwise, you are better off using one of the more established channels. Looking at the API specifications of several major banks in more detail, you will realize that there are minor standardization options at the moment. Everyone is talking about APIs but in fact, every bank has their own! Ultimately, it is irrelevant for the customer or the user which technological options we have available to connect a financial institution.

What new aspects does API connectivity bring and what makes it special?

The main difference is the way in which information is made accessible. Intraday account statements are a perfect example. Many banks provide this information at least once or twice a day, some more often. The times vary according to bank, which makes it difficult to gain a complete overview of your financial status at any one time. For EBICS and H2H connections, BELLIN has to actively retrieve this information for clients, while the banks send the data to a company’s BIC in the case of SWIFT Service customers. Corporates have little or no insight into any fluctuations outside these times.
API technology enables two systems to communicate directly. In theory, any API request to a bank requesting intraday account information or the current financial status could be processed and responded to in real time. This would be a huge leap towards the concept of an “instant treasury:” It would enable treasurers to trigger information directly and to receive the latest data at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, few banks are able to offer such a service, as it would require not just an interface but also powerful and modern banking systems.

So the flood of information triggered by APIs very quickly hits a wall, reined in by banking systems. Do you see any solutions to this problem?

So-called WebSocket interfaces are a step up from APIs. This technology would see a bank notify a client as soon as any relevant data has become available. Corporates could retrieve this information promptly and would always have the latest information. This is a very intelligent reversal of the logic described earlier and would get rid of any redundant data communication. Customers or their service providers would only ever communicate with a bank when the bank has notified them of available data. You could compare a notification that money has been credited to your account to notifications sent by LinkedIn or YouTube: As soon as something new happens, it’s shown to you and you’re notified.

Will these new technologies mean the end for existing solutions such as EBICS?

Not at all. EBICS is a great example. The EBICS standard is long established and thousands of corporate clients use it. Banks have invested a lot of money in these systems. Intelligent updates to these standards will be the key. The German Banking Industry Committee, the industry association of the German banking industry, is planning specifications for 2020 and working on introducing technology that will enable banks to notify corporate clients as soon as relevant data is available to be retrieved from the EBICS bank server. From a technological point of view, this will be a combination of the established EBICS protocol and the latest API technology. I think this is the perfect combination of old and new standards and brings enormous advantages to customers with little or no adjustments required.

What would you recommend treasurers do right now?

My advice would be to remain calm and wait it out. At the moment, APIs and the opportunities associated with them are being hyped up. But in reality, very few banks have actually developed new services.

At BELLIN, we develop and integrate APIs every day, whether it is to communicate with transaction repositories, to integrate SAP systems or to connect our BELLIN Connect app. We have decades of experience when it comes to banking communication and have just launched API projects with three major international banks. Our aim is to create viable use cases that add value to our treasury clients.

Authors:

Author picture ofKarsten Kiefer

Karsten Kiefer
As a Product Manager and Payments Specialist, Karsten Kiefer is responsible for any payments topics at BELLIN. The main focus of his work is on enhancing software functionality, supported payment formats and communications channels. Karsten has a background in IT and has over 20 years’ experience in the payments sector.



 

 

Author picture ofAnja BiehlerAnja Biehler
Anja has a PhD in German Philology and trained in a business communications agency before gaining valuable creative and marketing experience in a number of advertising agencies. For five years, she was in charge of the communications department of a renowned, private financial service provider. Her last position before joining BELLIN’s Global Marketing & Communications team in November 2014 was with Freiburg University where Anja was responsible for the marketing efforts of the EXIST business start-up program.