Innovation, Digitalisation, APIs and Cryptos
EuroFinance organized another fantastic and insightful event with the Global Treasury Americas conference, held over 3 days in Miami. Apart from economical and geopolitical updates on the Americas region we heard about what drives corporate treasuries towards innovation and digitalization in the region.
Treasurers trust their banks to pick Fintechs
What became clear during the various sessions at the conference is that treasurers rely on the relationship banks to decide which treasury solution vendors they will work with. Treasurers simply do not have the time or the resources to evaluate new technology partners in the marketplace and they understand that before a financial institution engages with a technology partner, they will perform a very rigorous due diligence exercise.
Nevertheless, corporates already face internal competition within their organisation for project funding. As a support function, rather than a sales/revenue function scrutiny is even higher for treasury projects. Therefore, a treasurer’s vision and desire for the development of his or her department is often not achievable.
Within B2C corporation it was noted that it is often the sales or marketing department that initiates fintech projects based on customer wishes and demands. It’s important that treasury is not isolated and only gets invited to the table at the end but are involved from early on. Which all points to the importance of the treasury teams to be close to the business and commercial teams.
Trusting the banks reduces the perceived risk of working with a start-up and it will also help in obtaining internal support and funding for any initiative.
New technology entrants into the treasury technology space
Another interesting finding at the conference was the emergence of quite a few new start-up treasury technology vendors such as Nilus, Obol and Calculum. Calculum is a solution that improves working capital by analyzing and streamlining account payables creditor days in an organisation and thereby improving working capital, Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) and the cash conversion cycle.
Solutions like Nilus and Obol are built on API technology to provide better visibility, control and transparency over cash positions across the group. Although Nilus is initially focused on connectivity and visibility, Nilus has big plans to add additional functionality such as cash flow forecasting, daily cash positioning and in-house banking to their platform in due course. In doing so, Nilus could potentially pose a threat to the existing TMS powerhouses such of FIS and Kyriba. Their initial target market is also the mid-sized corporate ($100k - $1bn turnover) as they are still underrepresented as treasury tech users. One to keep an eye on….
Crypto currency discussions
The appearance of a cryptocurrency discussion at every treasury conference shows the interest in cryptocurrencies by treasurers. Or perhaps we should say intrigued in crypto rather than interested. Treasurers are fascinated by crypto, but so far have not taking the step to actively consider crypto in their organizations. Unless a customer wishes to pay in crypto (which leads to treasury tech projects initiated by the marketing/sales department as mentioned earlier), crypto currencies are not seen as an asset class for treasury to hold for a longer period. On the other hand, there are opportunities for distributed ledgers to be utilised such as a platform for multi-lateral netting.
The main theme that came out of the EuroFinance Global Treasury Americas conference was that Treasurers and their treasury department are continuously striving to innovate, while balancing new technological initiatives with the internal struggle for funding.