Innovation drives the category as bank/non-bank distinctions blur.
Most of the winners in this year’s systems-and-services-software categories offer Cloud-based treasury- and risk-management applications. These help minimize the up-front IT investment and maintenance for smaller treasury teams that don’t have dedicated IT resources or departments. With most treasurers looking to centralize and streamline their treasury operations to gain greater visibility over their global cash and liquidity, software solutions that reduce cost and time to market are, increasingly, a must-have.
FIS and Reval are both big proponents of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions in treasury management. In 2017, FIS, which won Best Treasury Management Software in this year’s awards, released its Integrity 10 SaaS solution, featuring a redesigned user interface and expanded functionality.
“The FIS Integrity SaaS product provides all the Cloud-based functional benefits required from treasurers, from basic cash management to complex risk management, but also provides a dedicated, specialized approach to security,” FIS states.
The Integrity treasury system, which has existed for more than a decade, has been completely rebuilt by FIS with the objective of freeing treasurers from mundane operational tasks, enabling them to focus on more-strategic aspects of their business.
Reval, which was bought by ION Trading in 2016, enables treasurers to manage their cash, liquidity and risk in the Cloud. The company, which won the Best Treasury Analytics Provider category, has always been strong on risk analytics, enabling treasurers to manage and analyze their foreign exchange, commodities and interest-rate exposures and to benefit from best-practice hedging strategies. The ability to accurately model and manage risks is an important part of a treasurer’s role in a volatile environment where there are considerable geopolitical and economic risks and increased regulatory oversight of financial functions around both tax and accounting.
On the payments side, there is a lot of industry buzz around newer technologies like blockchain and what efficiencies they may bring to cross-border payments. Software companies Misys and D+H, a previous winner in this section, merged in 2017 to form Finastra, which provides a wide range of banking, treasury and risk-management solutions.
In this year’s awards, Finastra took home Best Payments Solution. Finastra’s FusionFabric Cloud-based platform enables it to more easily collaborate with fintech start-ups to deliver more-innovative solutions built on the latest technologies. D+H also brings to the newly merged entity a wealth of experience spanning the entire lifecycle of payments, including its payments-hub technology, enabling banks to streamline legacy payment systems while also experimenting with the latest distributed-ledger technologies for faster payments delivery.
This year’s awards also saw some new names in our selection of winners. The winner in the Accounts Payable Solution category, Hanse Orga Group, is backed by private-equity firm Waterland. With a traditional focus on SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for treasurers, Hanse Orga has expanded its portfolio in recent months to include the entire financial value chain.
In the procure-to-pay arena, the focus is not on automating just the payment itself, but also the processes that support the payment: creation and approval of the invoice; executing an order. Hanse Orga has taken what it describes as an “intelligent hybrid” approach that allows companies to more easily automate recurring payables.
The company also addresses treasurers’ concerns around high volumes of corporate-payments fraud. Incidents of this crime are rising exponentially as fraudsters shift their focus there from consumer payments. Hanse Orga’s Fraud Monitor solution automatically detects suspicious outbound payments. Payments can also be screened against international sanctions lists.
The company’s “payment factory” solution provides a more streamlined, centralized work flow for managing and configuring payment flows.
“The times in which it was largely a time-consuming and manual task for the head office to consolidate the data of all payments—inbound and outbound—are over,” says Hanse Orga. “Today, companies have immediate access to all that information. And it’s mobile, so that payment approvals are possible and all key performance indicators are visible—anytime, anywhere and on any device.”
An interesting trend in software and services is the rise of the cash-management bank as technology company. While treasury-management software providers are merging and consolidating to leverage the scale and investment power of their combined entities, they also face increasing competition from the large global cash-management banks. These bigger players continue to invest heavily in their proprietary treasury- and cash-management functionality.
The best example of this is Citi, winner of Best Accounts Receivable Solution in this year’s awards. The US financial-services behemoth resembles a technology company these days more than it does a bank. With fintechs set to steal a march on banks by offering more innovative solutions that address specific pain points within corporate treasury, banks like Citi are partnering with said fintechs to offer enhanced functionality.
In accounts receivable, the award has traditionally gone to a software vendor. However, Citi has built on its strong focus on analytics in liquidity management and extended that to collections to give treasurers powerful tools to better manage and analyze their receivables to reduce days sales outstanding.
A new category in this year’s systems-and-services awards is that of Best Treasury API, won by Standard Chartered. With the advent of open banking under the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), application-programming interfaces (APIs) are increasingly favored solutions. They enable innovative fintechs to share their functionality more easily with banks’ back-end systems. Banks too are developing APIs; although not all of them have been as quick off the mark as Standard Chartered, which unveiled its API portal for developers back in early 2017, almost a year before PSD2 was scheduled to be drafted into EU member states’ national laws. Its transaction-banking API encompasses cash, trade and securities services. The bank’s developer portal allows developers to experiment with applications and tools in a “sandbox-type” environment.
The fact that banks are now sharing the stage with fintechs and technology companies in the systems-and-services-software categories reflects how the field of treasury-management systems is shifting. While not a lot has changed in terms of the challenges treasurers face in streamlining and centralizing their treasury processes, now more than ever before they have a wider choice of technology partners: from well-established firms who are adapting their offerings to compete with newer entrants, to fintechs who are challenging the status quo.
With a significant number of treasury-management processes still performed on Excel spreadsheets, the democratization of treasury and cash-management technology can reap only benefits for treasuries, particularly those that lack the financial and IT resources to implement multiyear, million-dollar ERP-software and treasury-management-systems projects.
SYSTEMS & SERVICES WINNERS
Best Payments Solution
Best Accounts Payable Solution
Hanse Orga Group
Best Accounts Receivable Solution
Best Treasury Management Software
Best Treasury Analytics Provider
Best Treasury API
Standard Chartered Open Banking API Corporate Banking