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Bank independent payment platforms, ING and Cobase the new kid on the block?

| 22-1-2019 | by  Pieter de Kiewit |

With layman’s eye I follow what is happening in treasury and technology and am intrigued by the entrance of Cobase, owned by ING, in the market for bank independent payment platforms. This is not a new market with competitors like TIS, Serrala (formerly known as Hanse Orga) and PowertoPay.

If I understand the concept well, these platforms were build to make life easier for treasurers and other financials. The idea is to connect many bank accounts from different banks in one system, and this system into the company’s ERP. The system enables outgoing payments entered in the format of the ERP system, no adjustments needed, with one token to authorize. This way one can avoid using all the various authentication methods and payment formats different banks force upon users. Incoming payments through these platforms can streamline reconciliation. Security, clear information and efficiency are obvious advantages.

MNCs often work with many banks because there are only a few (some say no) banks that offer global coverage. Also many companies do not want to rely on the services of only one bank. Ending and starting cash management relations with banks is easier with an independent payment platform: a plug and play system creates a stronger negotiation position. So cost saving can be possible.

Now Cobase, fully owned by ING, enters the described market. Exciting news, but also a bit puzzling:
• Will clients, that already use a platform, switch to Cobase and put all their banking eggs in the ING basket?
• Will other banks, competitors of ING, be willing to cooperate in building the Cobase solution?
• If ING, or a competitor is present in (most of) the countries a company works in and this company is willing to work with only one bank, why use Cobase?
• And is Cobase planning to extend its services to other Treasury Management Software solution, thus entering the market of Kyriba, Bellin, IT2 and others?

From the side-line I will follow what will happen. I look forward to seeing your input. What do I overlook? I will keep you up-to-date,

Pieter de Kiewit

 

 

Pieter de Kiewit

Owner of Treasurer Search

 

 

African countries open for blockchain acceptance

| 04-09-2018 | Carlo de Meijer | treasuryXL

Even though Africa did not get a lot of attention in the press when talking about blockchain and its acceptance on this continent for long, that is fundamentally changing. Did you know that last year African countries had the highest number of online searches for “blockchain” and “bitcoin” last year. This especially goes for Ghana and South Africa. And did you now that a growing number of blockchain events and conferences have been organised throughout the continent.

There are various developments on the African continent that indicate the growing interest for blockchain. We are seeing some impressive inroads on the use of blockchain in various African countries. In those countries local tech startups have taken up blockchain technology to counter many of the economic and political issues that exist within the continent today.

In this blog I will be diving somewhat deeper into why it may be important for Africa to use blockchain, what are the main use cases and what blockchain initiatives, experiments and projects have been launched both by governments, financial institutions and companies.

Why blockchain in Africa?

To date, blockchain adoption has been sporadic across Africa, but that is changing. Studies have found out that blockchain technology could solve a number of fundamental political and societal challenges facing Africa.

One of the main pulls of blockchain technology in Africa is that it is decentralized, and transparent, leading to many possible use cases based on combating corrupt political and voting systems. In South Africa (but also in other African countries), where corruption is undermining the image of Africa’s most advanced economy, blockchain could play an important role. By implementing blockchain’s “tamper-proof” record of transactions in both the public and private sectors, one could combat fraud and corruption across the whole region.

Blockchain technology through social media based models could also contribute to a more open and inclusive economy. This opportunity is particularly relevant for Africa, where a large portion of the population is excluded from the formal economy, because they can’t open a bank account, don’t have a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, etc. Blockchain may help to overcome many of these challenges.

Foreign aid and charity donation do not (yet) reach its full potential. Less than 40% of charity money reaches the intended beneficiary in Africa. But also the use and distribution of medicines and food by the many NGOs is far from optimal. Using blockchain could make these streams much more transparent.

And there are many other economic and financial areas including agriculture, where African countries are behind Western countries, in which blockchain can help Africa accelerate into the future.

Read the full article of our expert Carlo de Meijer on LinkedIn

 

Carlo de Meijer

Economist and researcher

 

Reminder Event: INTERNATIONAL TREASURY MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE 26-28 Sept @ EUROFINANCE

| 20-08-2018 | Eurofinance | treasuryXL |

Join the global treasury community at EuroFinance’s  27th International Treasury Management conference on 26-28 September 2018. This year, we look at how to prepare treasury for the future – because it is no longer enough to just deliver on treasury’s core responsibilities.

New technology, business model disruption and unprecedented compliance, regulation and geopolitical issues will change the profession beyond recognition. Treasury needs to react and adapt.

  • Discover which tech is relevant to you and how to future-proof your treasury
  • Hear how to be proactive, work with the rest of the business and keep treasury relevant
  • Learn how others are seizing the opportunity to review everything from staffing to structures

This fresh new programme is based on over 1,000 interviews and discussions with treasury professionals around the world. It will deliver cutting-edge content, real-life case studies and thought provoking big picture sessions.

Network with an unparalleled senior audience of 2100+ delegates from over 50 countries. Find out what to expect here: https://bit.ly/2Nv8RI3

For more information or if you want to register for the event visit the events website.

 

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Reminder Event: TOMORROW’S EUROPE: Uncertainty and unprecedented opportunity

| 13-08-2018 | Reuters | treasuryXL |

Join this dynamic discussion where a panel of economic, geopolitical and business experts will explore what ‘Tomorrow’s Europe’ may look like.

Europe is at a crossroads. It faces many challenges – from globalisation and geopolitics, to the impact of new technologies and trade agreements. But change also brings great opportunities for the brave and adaptable. Above all, innovation, entrepreneurship and investment will be the foundations of future prosperity. And businesses – as the main creators of jobs and growth – have a pivotal role in determining what ‘Tomorrow’s Europe’ will become.

Our expert panel will discuss

  • What will drive economic growth?
  • What are the geopolitical factors that lie ahead?
  • Which businesses and markets will bring investment to the region?
  • What will propel innovation and competition?
  • How new regulations and a post-Brexit trade landscape will shape the decades to come

All this, and much more, up for debate at the Axica, Berlin on 19 September 2018.

Agenda

6:30 pm: Arrive and sign in
7:00 pm: Welcome and introductions
7:10 pm: Panel discussion
8:00 pm: Audience Q&A
8:30 pm: Networking drinks reception

Meet the Speakers

(Additional panellists to be announced shortly)

Özlem Bedre-Defolie

Associate Professor of Economics, ESMT

Özlem Bedre-Defolie is an associate professor (with tenure) of economics at ESMT Berlin. Her research has been published in leading Economics, Marketing and Industrial Organization journals, including American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Theory, American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, Marketing Science, International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Ferdinand Fichtner

Head of Department, DIW Berlin

Dr. Ferdinand Fichtner is Head of the Forecasting and Economic Policy Department at DIW Berlin. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cologne and wrote his dissertation thesis about the effects of monetary integration on economic welfare. He is one of the leading German experts on macroeconomic policy, with frequent appearances on national and international media and close connections with German and European policy makers.

Josef Janning

Head of European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin Office

Josef Janning joined the European Council on Foreign Relations in April 2014 as Senior Policy Fellow in the Berlin Office. Josef has published widely on European Affairs, International Relations, EU foreign and security policy, German foreign and European policy as well as global affairs. On these issues he also is a frequent commentator with German and international media.

Panel Moderator: Vanessa Cuddeford

Vanessa Cuddeford is a journalist and presenter with 15 years’ experience. She anchors and reports for the BBC and Reuters, regularly presenting news, arts and business programmes for international broadcasters.

This event is for:

Business leaders / senior executives / entrepreneurs

For more information or if you want to register for the event visit the events website.

 

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Blockchain for trade finance: A network business

| 19-06-2018 | Carlo de Meijer | TreasuryXL

Trade finance has become one of the top focus issues for blockchain technology use. The number of pilots and other trials that are looking into the opportunities of blockchain technology for trade finance and supply chain have dramatically increased in 2017 and intensified this year. The sheer complexity of trade finance is thereby reflected in the variety of potential solutions. Different parts of the ‘trade finance supply chain’ had their own blockchain initiative. A large number of these pilots however stopped or failed being too narrow in their set-up. These were mainly focused on certain – and limited – aspects of the trade finance chain.

The various parties who are involved in the trade finance and supply chain business however are increasingly becoming aware that stand-alone solutions are not the answer to the various challenges in the trade finance industry. The success of using blockchain in trade finance purposes stands or falls with networks effects and if it is adopted widely. They are increasingly convinced that as well as developing a platform and blockchain solution, a network must be in place that covers all the parties in the trade finance chain so that the full transaction can be completed on the blockchain.

As a result we have seen the upcoming of blockchain trade finance networks with exotic names like Batavia, Marco Polo, We.Trade and more are expected to follow. In this blog I want to go somewhat deeper in these various offerings.

Trade finance: a complex process

Trade finance is a complex process. Various parties from exporters, importers, banks, truckers, shippers, custom agents and regulators all require checks and verifications at various points along the chain. Each interlocking part of the chain depends on successful completion of the previous phase and on reliable information.

Banks thereby play a large role in the trade finance chain, notably in the supply of letters of credit and other financing mechanism. Letters of credit are the most widely used way of financing between importers and exporters, helping guarantee trade transactions. At the moment buyers and suppliers use a letter of credit typically concluded by physically transferring paper documents to underpin transactions. This process however creates a long paper trail and it may take between five and ten days to exchange documentation.

A network business

Trade finance is a network business. It is an activity that often involves multiple counterparties in various and far-away parts of the world. Creating a blockchain trade finance ecosystem that combines all the different stages of trade from production to end-delivery is a must. For blockchain trade finance platforms to work in an optimal way this means on-boarding other banks, regulators, customs and all parts of the trade cycle. This asks for the setting up of blockchain-enabled trade finance platforms or networks with common standards enabling interoperability.

“Of course we are closely monitoring initiatives among all the other consortia that we know about developing trade finance on blockchain and we are mindful of ensuring inter-operability where we can”. Hubert Benoot, Head of Trade KBC and chairman of We.Trade

Read the full article of our expert Carlo de Meijer on LinkedIn

 

Carlo de Meijer

Economist and researcher

 

Cash flow forecasting – more than just safeguarding liquidity

| 4-6-2018 | Gerald Dorrer | TIPCO Treasury & Technology GmbH |

“We don’t need cash flow forecasting” – statements like this are frequently heard at companies with significant cash reserves. They often highlight concerns about major internal expenses as capturing the relevant data can tie up significant resources. Modern cash flow forecasting, however, is about far more than just safeguarding against insolvency. And using up-to-date technologies only minimal efforts are needed to implement a forecast that will provide you with an array of insightful data. 

The easy way to achieve modern forecasting

Many of the data needed for cash flow forecasting already exist in various systems. ERP systems are a particularly efficient data source. For example, this is where you’ll find all of your receivables and payables, including the associated due dates and terms of payment. These data alone will already provide much of what you need. You can also find other influential factors here such as the volumes of regular salary payments. Modern forecasting systems already come complete with an interface to ERPs, making it possible to import these data at the press of a button and take them into account in your forecasts.

Another helpful tool is predictive analytics. Although the statistical methods which predictive analytics are based on have already existed for quite some time, modern technologies now make it possible to use these in practice. Predictive analytics is the key to leveraging historical data to predict future developments with an amazing degree of accuracy. A good example of the advantages offered by this procedure is in the case of a company with seasonal fluctuations in terms of its revenues. If you already have a target figure for revenues in the coming year, then predictive analytics will be able to rapidly and accurately break this down into sales for the individual months. But far more complex scenarios are also conceivable, such as the early identification of trends by means of automated analyses of social media data which can ultimately be translated into cash flows.

Flexibility

But which factors characterise a modern forecasting system?

Besides the criteria mentioned above (a connection to existing data sources and predictive analytics), flexibility is the most important factor – in all respects.

A modern system will allow you to freely define the structure of your forecasting within just a few minutes. Regardless of whether you need standard forecasting of operational and non-operational payments and financial cash flows or whether your company mainly engages in project-related business, you should be able to freely define the structure and the details of your cash flow categorisation. On the other hand, it should also be possible to rely on templates provided by the system in order to start the process using a structure tailored to your specific industry.

At the same time, modern systems also allow you to be flexible in terms of your forecasting horizon. Everything should be possible: from short-term day-by-day forecasting required by banks for companies facing critical cash flow bottlenecks, to long-term forecasting with a horizon of several years. Top-of-the-line systems can even offer you the option of mixing daily, weekly and monthly data in order, for example, to forecast the next seven days on a daily basis, the following twelve weeks on a weekly basis and the remaining nine months on a monthly basis. You can specify how the weekly and monthly values are automatically distributed. This means that you are free to define how previous figures with a low degree of granularity appear at the weekly or daily level after the next data rollover.

Flexibility is also required when it comes to displaying the data. Modern systems offer you several features which enable you to investigate the causes of significant differences between the current and earlier forecasts. For example, switch between the various levels of granularity, whether in terms of the structure or the timeline, or compare forecast and actual figures, or even forecasts from different points in time. Thanks to these flexible display options, expensive analysis tools are no longer necessary; all you need to do is take a quick look at your system.

More than just safeguarding liquidity

The primary purpose of forecasting of course remains ensuring sufficient liquidity. Based on your current cash reserves, the cash flows captured for future time periods are aggregated to provide you with the forecast of cash available at the end of every period. This makes it possible to quickly spot cash bottlenecks.

If your system also offers you the option of managing your credit facilities and their due dates, and integrating these into your cash flow forecasting, then this will enable you to quickly determine when credit lines will need to be drawn on or when they will need to be increased. This is just one of the many aspects which make it clear how significantly you can be supported by a well-designed system.

Systems which also permit you to forecast on a currency-differentiated basis offer considerable additional benefits. This feature will allow you to capture all cash flows in the original transaction currency. The advantage here is that, as soon as you have prepared the forecast, you not only have an overview of the development of liquidity but also of your FX risk exposures. If your system also allows you to manage FX hedge transactions, a comparison of FX payments and these hedge transactions will enable you to determine your unhedged FX exposure in no time at all. The latest systems can even automatically generate hedge proposals based on the unhedged exposure which are then automatically forwarded to your trading system in a workflow-based process once these have been confirmed and approved.

Conclusion

Technological progress has made preparing a cash flow forecast easier today than ever before. Even if no liquidity bottlenecks are currently likely at your company, due to the ongoing reduction in the expenses involved, it nonetheless makes little sense to take unnecessary risks and to pass up on the advantages that comprehensive cash flow forecasting offers.

 

Gerald Dorrer – Manager TIPCO Treasury & Technology GmbH 

 

Content originally posted on Cash & Treasury Management File on 26/3/2018

 

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Does technology actually help you improve your cash management?

| 31-5-2018 | Nicolas Christiaen | Cashforce |

It is a question that many companies have been asking themselves for the past few years. Innovative, dedicated technologies may be very exciting, but the question remains: Are they worth the investment?

We believe the answer is yes, but understanding the technology & its shortcomings are key to exploiting its full potential. Companies that are missing today’s “FinTech train” might find themselves in precarious situations in the future. They risk becoming relatively less productive and might lack insights that their technology-driven competitors will have. This is certainly true when it comes to Cash & Working Capital Management. Technology is definitely an asset in today’s world, as it can help us driving value from working capital. Interconnectivity has risen significantly, with the surge of in-house banks, cash pooling, POBO, ROBO, etc., forcing treasury departments to keep up with the pace and find ways to manage complex treasury set-ups. On top of that, the number of transactions has grown to such a level that only high-level calculations can be done by humans. Technology helps companies to deal with this magnitude of data and reduces complexity by bringing visibility in companies’ cash flows.

Also, the surge of centralization (look at the number of centralized treasury teams) reduced the number of double tasks and improved the efficiency of Treasury Operations. However, at the same time, keeping treasury connected with the business is becoming the new challenge. In this continuous paradox, technology will prove helpful in connecting both worlds.

However, we need a good understanding of limits & shortcomings of technology too. Today’s systems are capable of calculating expected outcomes & action plans based on a set of parameters. However, technology is not smart enough yet to take into account all parameters (like macro-economic parameters, unexpected events, changes of policies) & and most of all human (= irrational) behavior.

There is a legitimate drive towards using technology, as complexity rises, as is the need for more transparency. Two interesting evolutions are simultaneously taking place: Niche players are betting on making the technology smarter, whilst corporates are getting better at smartly using that technology. There is no reason to believe this will stop in the near future.

 

 

 

Nicolas Christiaen

Managing Partner at Cashforce

 

FX-Risks Versus Technology

| 27-10-2017 | Treasurer Development | Minor Treasury @ Hogeschool Utrecht | Frans Boumans |

Today’s blog has been written by Daphne Piereij and Martijn Mullié, who are 2 students studying for the minor Treasury Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. We welcome their contribution – it is good to see the youth engaging in Treasury matters! Here is their opinion on FX – risks versus technology.

“The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.” Those words were uttered by former US president John F Kennedy in a State of the Union address before Congress in 1962.

This still applies to the current state of the world. Especially within the financial markets and with FX Risks. Managing these risks have been completely revolutionized the past decades because of the new innovations in technology.

Traditionally traders manually update their volatility surfaces and bid-offer spreads, and that default pricing would have gone directly out to clients. More efficient is to use the electronic market data and automate much of that process, particularly in the most liquid currency pairs, creating a more transparent, data-driven practice.

According to McKinsey these are the trends in FX risk management with evolving technology and advanced analytics:

Big Data

Faster, cheaper computing power enables risk functions to use reams of structured and unstructured customer information to help them make better credit risk decisions.

In the future while this technology evolves and the quality of analytics of big data becomes better it will be easier to manage FX risks.

Machine Learning

This method improves the accuracy of risk models by identifying complex, nonlinear patterns in large data sets. Every bit of new information is used to increase the predictive power of the model.

Keeping in mind the words of former president John F. Kennedy the world will never be predictable and neither will the financial market. Because it’s not ran by machines but by humans, and humans are in general unpredictable. Which means this process has no end until the financial markets are managed by machines which are predictable.

Crowd Sourcing

The Internet enables the crowdsourcing of ideas, which many incumbent companies use to improve their effectiveness.

The internet can motivate people with challenges to work together to make algorithms for analytic functions so market data can be used more efficiently. It’s not always the most effective method to use the in-house developers to create algorithms. To make the most effective FX risk management algorithms is very hard and time consuming. Crowd Sourcing enables a whole different aspect to create algorithms, using more brains to create these immensely complicated methods to decrease FX risks.

Resources
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/the-future-of-bank-risk-management
https://www.risk.net/risk-management/5276541/managing-fx-risk-how-to-prepare-for-the-unpredictable

Minor Treasury Management

More information about the minor Treasury Management at the University of Applied Sciences?
Please contact Frans Boumans.

 

Frans Boumans

Manager Minor Treasury Management @ University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht

 

 

Will the next Treasurer be a (mobile) computer?

| 27-9-2017 | Bas Kolenburg |

It’s in the genes of Treasurers to look ahead, to predict what will be around the corner and to anticipate on the icebergs that your company may hit in the future.

But what about the forecast of the position of the Treasurer itself? Buzzwords these days are disruption, digitization, blockchain, outsourcing, 3D printing, how computers and robots are transforming whole value chains and are taking over ’our’ jobs. So why not replace the guy or girl in “the ivory tower” who is negotiating with banks, takes care of the bank accounts and manages the financial risks of the business? Will there be a disruptive event or technological development that will replace the human Treasurer in the future?

In short my answer is no, but I am certain that the function of Treasurer will be materially different form current and recent historic practice.

Look what already happened between for instance the 1980s till now and how new developments and technological improvements changed the daily life of the Treasurer. Can you imagine to be a Treasurer in the 1980s without a computer trying to generate a daily total cash balance to your CFO adding up all paper daily statements in various currencies on a manual basis? Or running a cash pool notional or physical with frequent cash sweeping combining decentralized entrepeneurship and central grip on cash? Or try to have decent discussion on the cash conversion cycle with all relevant stakeholders and trying to improve the supply chain from a stack of paper sheets?

So in the last 40 years the life of a Treasurer changed already rapidly and dramatically. And that in a world where significant risks and volatility seem to be the new world order. The risks are plentiful: volatile commodity prices, geopolitical changes, higher debt levels, negative interest rates, liquidity bubbles created by central banks to name a few.

But what is ahead of us? I think that the human Treasurer will be there, for a while, for a number of reasons.
1. Systems need to be implemented
In my treasury experience I have not found a single system that was ‘plug and play’. It takes time, funds and resources to get systems do what they need to do. Try to set up a decent TMS within a month? Will be hardly possible.

2. Systems need to communicate with eachother
In a ideal world you have your ERP(s), TMS, trading platform, payment tools, connections to the bank, reconcilation of bank statements working as if it was one system to be managed via one set of buttons. Reality is that all the systems have interfaces that can be complex and need human interference to manage the exceptions from normal practice. I have seen in my career a lot of excel sheets used to manage these interface connections and they are difficult to delete completely.

3. There is no standard business
Very little corporates can say that for the next 10 years or so business, product mix and client base will be the same. So supporting business with the financial risks will need to be customized tailor made as there is no ‘one size fits all’. Although in the future there will be more powerful information tools available to make the right decision.

4. You need to navigate through the wave(s) of regulation
The credit crisis has caused that new rules are introduced almost on a weekly basis. Non compliance to the rules can lead to business disruptions, fines, sanctions and improving transparancy is pivotal to manage these regulations. Humans need to navigate through these regulation jungle.
The stacks of paper required for KYC and anti-money laundering are increasing by the year and it is up to the Treasurer to manage these processes as efficiently as possible.

5. It is key to have access to funding in support of your strategy, business and organisation
Corporates are looking for a more diversified funding base as banks have retrenched from their dominant position from the past. That means that the Treasurer has these days more sources of funding available such as alternative lending, working capital via supply chain financing, foreign capital markets. More sources lead to more complexity which needs human interference to select the best option(s). And although your KPI sheet and fancy business plan can help you with a certain small crowd funding amount, securing financing is still a result from relationship between a financier and a corporate in need of funding.

 

 

Bas Kolenburg

Senior Consultant at Enigma Consulting

 

Dutch FinTech Awards (21 April): discount via treasuryXL

| 12-4-2017 | treasuryXL |

On 21 April the Dutch FinTech Awards will take place in Utrecht. A day with many international keynote speakers, provoking master classes and pitches by the Dutch FinTech 50. Make sure you register today and join this unique opportunity to meet 300 International FinTech stakeholders. Via treasuryXL you can get a discount on the regular ticket. Read the article for more information about the event and to discover the discount code.

​Dutch FinTech Awards & Conference

You are more than welcome to join the Dutch FinTech Awards and Conference of 2017 where innovative and disruptive FinTech companies are awarded. Meet 400 hand picked entrepreneurs, bankers, investors and advisors, demonstrate thought leadership, extend your network and develop business. Join the festive award ceremony on 21 April 2017.

What is happening?

Tens of thousands of finance jobs are vanishing. Google, Apple, Facebook and countless FinTech startups are disrupting the financial sector. Innovative companies are eager to please millions of frustrated banking customers. Investors are fascinated by the phenomenal profits made by banks struggling with outdated technology.

Get your ticket with discount

We have the opportunity to give you a 150 EUR discount on a regular ticket.

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We hope to meet you at the Dutch Fintech Awards 2017 at the Rabobank HQ in Utrecht on 21 April.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Annette Gillhart – Community Manager treasuryXL

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