By Benjamin Würzburger, COO at Ceviant,
Some 15 years we had to go to the bank to check our account balance or transaction history at an ATM or at the counter. Now we can do it in seconds from our phones.
For decades corporate treasurers with multiple bank accounts in one bank needed to log into every single account, access the account balance and transaction history, and then manually put all this data into an Excel spreadsheet and reconcile for each individual account.
This process is time consuming and may result in human error. Furthermore, as a business grows, so does its payment volume. Big corporates with over 20 bank accounts may need a bigger team handling cash management, resulting in higher costs. With companies growing and expanding their operations to other jurisdictions there is also a need to handle accounts in multiple banks and currencies, moving money from one location to another.
However, if corporate treasurers have a sophisticated cash management solution enabling them to have all data fed directly by their financial institution into a portal in real time, that can help them eliminate human error and the need for Excel spreadsheets, as well as cutting costs, thus resulting in higher efficiency for the business.
This solution can be found in open banking APIs, which establish a real-time connection between a banking institution and a cash management platform for a corporate treasury, empowering it to initiate and send payments and beneficiary data directly to the company’s bank.
Open banking is rapidly becoming the gold standard in today’s financial services sector. The concept involves using publicly available ‘open’ APIs that allow third-party developers to build custom applications around their services. Payment requests may be created directly within the cash management platform, with payment processing handled directly at the bank. This effectively eliminates the need for a third-party intermediary.
Corporate treasuries around the world are beginning to adopt APIs to optimise their payment processes. We have seen this transformation happening in mature markets such as Germany and the UK. In emerging markets, it may still take some time to educate treasurers about the benefits of API-based cash management solutions to overcome some misperceptions about security and lack of control over the movement of finances via the platform. However, the potential is huge, and these hurdles have already been overcome in other markets. Once treasurers see that they are in fact in charge of their accounts and action everything on the platform, they clearly see the benefits. For example, in Nigeria, 15 years ago there was no mobile banking, and a similar perception of lack of control was there. But once people saw that it worked, they trusted it.