APIs are speeding up banks’ ability to deliver the modern data tools that finance executives want.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been around for a long time, but 2020 saw API-based connectivity come of age as a treasury and cash management tool. DBS emerged as an outstanding practitioner with a hat trick of Asia Pacific regional awards from Global Finance: Best Bank for Cash Management, Best Bank for Liquidity Management (for the second year in a row) and Outstanding Achievement in Treasury Operations During the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Singapore-based bank offers nearly 180 types of highly modular APIs to suit varying client needs.
The pandemic has significantly accelerated adoption of digital solutions by corporate clients. “API-based connectivity has been central to creating and delivering digital solutions, and at the pace necessary to be responsive to the new business conditions brought about by the pandemic,” says John Laurens, DBS group head of Global Transaction Services. “We’ve seen API call volumes with our customers grow exponentially month on month on month–a trend that shows no sign of slowing.”
APIs have “fundamentally reinvented the ways in which corporates and banks are now able to work together to bring true transformational change,” Laurens says. APIs are critical for banks that want to help corporates get the most out of the time value of their information, he argues. For example, DBS has helped Haier Group, a Chinese home appliance and consumer electronics manufacturer, to harness data on the purchasing and payments history of its suppliers, distributors and customers, helping Haier optimize credit availability and inventory management. “Furthermore, use of data analytics has brought benefit to the suppliers and distributors in this ecosystem—many of which comprise MSMEs [micro-, small and midsize enterprises]—by way of access to lower cost financing,” Laurens says.
ANZ, 2021 Best Bank for Payments and Collections in Asia Pacific, is also working to stay ahead of the rush to real-time payments and respond to consumers’ anticipated payment preferences in a post-Covid environment. Access to real-time data provides greater visibility of payable and receivable flows, according to Leigh Mahoney, head of Wholesale Digital, Institutional, at ANZ. “This allows businesses to make more-informed decisions around key aspects of liquidity and treasury management, trade and supply chain,” he says, “leading to optimization of working capital and interest.”
ANZ recently partnered with Worldline—the largest European player in payment services, with a presence in 50 countries—to provide acquiring services, which process debit and credit card payments, along with point-of-sale and other payment solutions to one million merchants and 1,200 banks and financial institutions globally.
“Receiving fast and secure payments is key to running a successful business,” Mark Hand, ANZ group executive of Australia Retail and Commercial Banking, said in the announcement in December. “This partnership will provide our customers with access to some of the most advanced payments technology currently available, as well as future innovations, to improve the speed and security of point-of-sale and online payments.”
ANZ can also provide meaningful analysis for customers using aggregated bankwide data with personally identifiable information removed. “Real-time analytics are helping to speed up the automation of back-end customer processes,” Mahoney adds
Relationships take on extra importance in a crisis. DBS has been running co-creation workshops with customers for the past few years, but 2020 was different. “Working with our customers to redesign and re-engineer at the urgent pace inspired by Covid-19 was intense,” says Laurens. “But it gave us the opportunity to work even more closely with them…and even capture new opportunities, strengthening and redefining our relationships.”