Bitcoin and distributed ledger technology are top of mind for European corporate treasurers meeting at an annual conference in Manchester, U.K., according to a blog in The Wall Street Journal. The treasurers meeting at the two-day ACT Annual Conference, “Redefining Treasury Opportunity From Uncertainty,” are also concerned about finding technical solutions for centralized currency hedging and automated risk management.
The corporate treasurers expressed more concern about these issues than Brexit or the actions of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Richard Abigail, Arup Group Ltd. group treasurer, said he has to determine how to integrate new technology into existing systems and what to budget for them. Arup Group is a U.K.-based planning and engineering firm.
Bruce Meuli, Bank of America Corp.’s director of global transaction service business, said corporate treasurers are moving to automate existing systems. Automation applies to payables in addition to transactions, currencies and risks. A more automated treasury function will yield benefits by allowing companies to use a single data format rather than the more widely used separate systems and spreadsheets.
Paul Thwaite, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC head of transaction services, said corporate treasurers want to “get under the skin of this” fintech challenge. Banks can now demonstrate the practical uses of the technology. His bank has deployed an app allowing treasurers to see how much has been spent on commercial payment cards in real time, independent of how many cards are being used.
The blog noted that not all treasurers will find the solutions convincing.
Concerns Resonate Globally
Corporate treasurers on other continents have expressed similar concerns.
Research from East & Partners, an Australian-based market research firm, recently found that Australian corporate treasurers are planning on increasing their spending on fintech by around 12.2 percent. It added that 17.6 percent of treasurers had already invested in the sector while an additional 24.2 percent were exploring the possibility.
A recent report from Ovum found that 75 percent of corporate treasurers Latin America and Africa are interested in the solutions that blockchain technology can deliver to banks.
Developed in partnership with Temenos, a Swiss financial services software specialist, the report, “Understanding Today’s Corporate Treasurer: The Implications for Corporate Banking Services,” explored how the priorities and attitudes of today’s corporate treasurers across four main areas of responsibility are changing. These are cash and liquidity management, forecasting and analytics, risk and compliance, and cost and operational efficiency.
Banks Versus Fintech Firms
The Global Fintech Report 2017 from PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 88 percent of global banks are increasingly concerned that they will lose revenue to fintech businesses. The areas major banks feel they will lose out on include payments, fund transfers and personal finance sectors. In response, 82 percent claimed that they intend to increase partnerships with financial technology services over the next three to five years.
The report found that since the financial crisis, the role of today’s corporate treasurer has essentially changed. As a consequence of the uncertainty and variability, the needs of the corporate treasurer has expanded significantly compared to improvements within corporate banking services.
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