How Mobile Connectivity is Changing Treasury Management

Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with managing their transactions through their mobile devices. Whether you’re using your Android handset, Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, laptop or tablet computer, you can now check your bank balance, make cash transfers, pay bills or make online purchases. New technology is giving us more visibility into our finances, as well as more ability to interact with our cash, so long as you have a network connection – whether in the coffee shop, on the golf course or at the airport.

In the world of treasury and banking, our professional online experience is not yet as slick as our personal consumer online experience. But there is huge potential, and some banks and corporate treasuries are moving towards using online platforms that allow them to authorise transactions, receive updates and confirmation of payments, interact instantly with colleagues, as well as share, review and annotate financial data through one interface.

Consumer Mobility Adoption and Acceptance

We have already come a long way since the first real mobile device came on the scene in the guise of the Palm 7 in the late 1990s. Since then there have been great strides forward in mobile functionality. We now have smartphones with the same processing power as a laptop. The processing capability of the computers used by NASA during the first manned moon landing is not as powerful as the Apple iPhone, Android handset or BlackBerry in your pocket. On top of this processing power, we have network connections in many public places and broadband connectivity allows information to be transmitted and processed quickly outside of the office.

Most of our clients are now using mobile devices to get connectivity. The real transformation will come in how we use these devices for business purposes, rather than the fact of having them in the first place. Mobility is about the functionality that we can achieve – personally, as consumers and professionally.

Consumer Experience is Moulding Business Interaction

‘Consumerisation’, which is when you take your personal experience as a consumer and apply it to your professional life, is set to change the way companies are managing their corporate cash flows. People are now used to – and demand – instant updates, and business work flow is becoming increasingly aligned with this social media model. We now have a culture of media-savvy professionals who expect to have the latest news and data at their fingertips and expect to be contacted as soon as something happens.

The consumer experience, however, is often far more interactive than current online corporate transactions. Take for example buying something online through Amazon, which would include a shopping experience, a simple payment process (with a credit card or with PayPal), followed by email confirmation, postal tracking updates and finally, delivery.

The consumer is informed and updated at several stages during the transaction – something that doesn’t necessarily happen so easily in corporate payments (for example to a supplier), even though the sum of money transferred is usually far higher. The result is that many people in the treasury and banking profession wonder why their work can’t be as easily managed as their personal life online.

Yet in some companies, this new way of working is beginning to take shape and banks are looking for ways to support their corporate clients. With the advent of mobile technology, the banks that are focusing on mobile treasury solutions are also employing social media models and mobile connectivity to translate into business settings.

Impact on Treasury and Business

Many banks and corporates now have an instant messaging system that enables employees to connect and communicate. There is less need to go to someone’s office or pick up the phone (although face-to-face meetings are still considered important).

Treasury needs to take advantage of mobile communication and use it to improve accessibility to the approvers; in corporations. If one of your functions is to be the final approver in a payment transaction, unlock company administrators, reset passwords and keep the workflow of your company moving along – how can you do that when offsite and away from your computer? If you have a mobile solution that connects to your treasury workstation you can accomplish these tasks and more to keep the work flowing while away from your office.

In the supplier/buyer relationship, communicating and sending an update every time there’s a settlement can increase the supplier’s confidence in the buyer. In Asia it is already common to inform a supplier by SMS/text message as soon as an invoice has been paid, rather than make a phone call, as is common in other regions.

Treasurers now expect certain online capabilities to be available remotely through their mobile devices. Here are some of the treasury functions that can be currently managed on mobile devices:

  • Approving a payment online even if it originated through another screen or another channel.
  • Checking balances: internal or multi-bank accounts.
  • Initiating payments or account transfers to fund accounts after checking balances.
  • For fraud: reviewing and making decisions on check images remotely.
  • Receiving updates and staying informed.
  • Completing administrative tasks.

Treasurers also want a higher degree of interactivity and communication that they can control and choose, including instant messaging.

Mobile Connectivity Driving Work Flows

Social networks are now providing ‘unbroken’ experiences for consumers. This means you can share all kinds of information such as photos, videos and messages without having to leave the platform you are in, open an email, find the attachment and send.

But how can banks weave online consumer and social behaviours into the work flows in treasury? Treasury platforms need to start using some of this functionality so that users have an unbroken experience. For example, if you want to initiate a payment or retrieve a report, at the moment you may have to use the phone, send an email or go to another web portal to achieve this instead of handling all within one treasury platform.

The treasury platform/portal of the near future could allow individuals to interact and exchange data all online – and mobile devices would enhance accessibility and the immediacy of this experience.

Security on the Go

Security remains a big issue. Adoption of mobile devices has already happened and it’s important that businesses realise this. If you’re not thinking about it, you should because someone in your company is already using a mobile device to perform some type of business function, whether it’s to send emails (that may contain confidential information) or to access other company data.

Some mobile devices have become a concern from a security perspective but nonetheless, 54% of Apple iPad users around the world use it for work communication. In North America, 67% of Apple iPad users carry out job-related tasks on it. In South America, that figure is 70%, while in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and South Africa; the figures are 60% and 70%. Russia meanwhile has just over 30% of Apple iPad users using the device for work communications.1

Companies need to be aware of the rate of mobile use for business purposes – and they need to be aware of the risks as well. Service providers need to provide browsers with strong security features, without complicating the users’ experience too much. They need technology that is not intrusive and is similar across all devices (from laptops, to tablets to phones). This is a field that moves rapidly as new versions of operating systems, browsers and software are introduced; therefore protecting these from hackers is a huge task.

Treasurers need to be fully involved in the discussion of developing security regulations for mobile treasury functions. It is no longer just an IT discussion, it’s a business discussion.

Best Practices for Mobile Banking Security

User education is a universal security principle and industry best practice. Security is a relationship among many parties to help secure your mobile device when accessing mobile banking and treasury applications. Many of these recommendations parallel the best practices you should employ when accessing the internet from a personal computer.

Passwords

  • Keep your password information safe and use strong passwords for all applications on the mobile device.
  • Strong passwords consist of eight or more digits, with a combination of numbers and letters.

Physical device security

  • Don’t leave your mobile device unattended in public places.
  • Use the lock function on the mobile device and frequently change the lock password.
  • Delete any confidential information from the device prior to any third party servicing.
  • Don’t store financial information in your mobile device.
  • Use tokens when initiating or approving transactions to help protect again fraud.
  • Discontinue using the mobile banking application if the mobile device is stolen.
    • Report it stolen to the bank and receive new credentials.

     

  • Don’t modify the mobile device to:
    • Give yourself more control.
    • Enable features that void warranties.
    • Change the root file systems.
    • Allow modifications to install third-party software or hardware components.

     

 

The Way Forward for Mobile Treasury Connectivity

There are different levels of maturity in the banking industry and there are a few banks that have led the pack when it comes to creating mobile experiences for their corporate clients. In the near future, the challenge is to leverage the kind of experience that consumers are now used to.

Mobile devices should provide an ‘à la carte’ experience, where you can choose your settings, understand the security features, know it is reliable and quick, and appropriate for the size of your handset as well as the networks you’re connecting to.

Mobile solutions need to be continually updated and adapted for small-screen devices. We need to focus on how social media has changed the way we interact, communicate, disseminate and consume information because the next generation of professionals will be doing and communicating business in a different way.

Pricing and loyalty are big factors in current banking relationships, but this could be set to change. Banks need to think about providing the right access in the right format that’s going to create client satisfaction. The next generation is likely to pay more for the right experience. Banks need to be looking at ways of creating an ‘unbroken’ experience in treasury in order to improve customer satisfaction.

1Source: IDG Connect ‘iPad for Business Survey’ – 2012.
 

 

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