API, automation key for treasury; here are best providers in Asean, Australia
The benefits of automation and APIs, such as enhanced visibility and quicker decision-making processes that can be made remotely, are key for any treasury department
28 Mar 2019 | The Asset

Capturing the benefits of real-time automation looms large in many treasury departments. It’s been one of the key objectives for CFOs and treasurers regionally, and specifically in Asean, where traditionally fragmented and diverse markets have often resulted in the ongoing prevalence of manual processes for many companies.

However, change may be on the horizon following the introduction of several electronic payment infrastructure networks - such as PromptPay in Thailand and PayNow in Singapore - that dissuade everyday consumers from using cash.

Initially rolled out for retail users, these government-backed payment networks are slowly becoming a tool for corporates as a way of conducting transactions with several companies such as Scoot in Singapore now using PayNow’s QR code as a collection channel to instantly receive funds on behalf of their customers.

The corporate embrace of such digital solutions in Asean has evidentially led to a number of exciting possibilities for CFOs and treasurers regarding visibility, as they are now able to effectively reconcile incoming receivables from electronic payment channels.

Likewise, within trade finance and supply chain finance the influence of technology is casting its net ever wider.

This pervasive march of technology is not only focused on the much-discussed prospect of blockchain/distributed ledger technology, but also on digital solutions in which suppliers and distributors are seamlessly onboarded onto a particular supply chain finance programme. For example, whether suppliers can be accepted into a programme remotely without having to visit a bank branch and provide collateral is one distinct advantage.

Even the way treasury departments connect with a typical bank is changing, with some banks opting out of a generic host-to-host connection with clients due to cost and time considerations when implementing such a solution. In its place the concept of API (application programming interface) connectivity has sprung up, allowing for real-time updates and information to be present in a particular ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

As one banker distinguishes it, “API integration is real-time communication between two engines, while host-to-host is a machine to machine connection where an agreed formatted file is sent.”

While the API connectivity concept is something that works with more technology-focused companies, such as e-commerce and ride-hailing app companies, the bigger question now is whether traditional companies will accept this new form of connectivity. Another consideration is whether these companies are ready for such a connection with their service provider.

Against this exciting technological backdrop, a select group of banks have stood out in Asean for their efforts in helping CFOs and treasurers reach their treasury goals of automation and visibility. DBS has been bestowed with the Best in Treasury & Cash Management in Asean award for co-creating effective, scalable solutions for its clients. For the first time, UOB takes the Best in Working Capital & Trade Finance award in Asean, leveraging its ability to effectively onboard both suppliers and distributors across its core markets in Asean.

In the competitive market of Australia, ANZ and Westpac battled it out, with both banks demonstrating professionalism and expertise in particular services. Like Asean countries, Australia has its domestic New Payments Platform which has played a key part over recent years in pushing cashless transactions in the country, with recent initiatives facilitating the ability to receive cross-border transactions from Swift’s gpi international payment system.

To see the list of winning institutions in Asean and Australia please click here.

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