Banks are increasingly looking at how they can add value for corporates through mobile solutions and data analytics. GTNews spoke to global head of innovation for HSBC’s payments and cash management business Marcus Treacher at Sibos in Singapore to find out more about how the bank is leveraging these new opportunities.
Using mobile to drive transactions
To identify the best ways to use mobile for transaction banking, Treacher said, his team started by looking at the treasurer’s job and how to transfer the role to mobile. After looking at the possibility of expanding traditional cash management services on mobile devices, they decided to focus on how to apply mobile devices across the franchise to help treasurers make operations, delivery and sales more efficient.
The app they developed could have a massive impact on taking cash and cheques out of transactions, Treacher believes, and on improving distribution processes. In the Philippines and Indonesia, for example, distribution networks can encompass thousands of islands. Mobile-to-mobile transactions reduce cash usage, give corporates an immediate handle on money coming in, and enable them to identify patterns such as which parts of a city have the greatest concentrations of buyers.
The platform will enable companies to use a mobile “wallet” to sell consumer goods to their distributors or to collect insurance premiums without individuals having to go to the bank. The bank is also experimenting with a link into smart metres that enables customers to pay utility bills and with mobile wallets to help companies buy from farmers in remote locations.
Along with developing mobile technology internally, Treacher said that HSBC has collaborated with software providers to create services for the bank’s corporate customers. Because the bank engages closely with fintech companies, Treacher said, it is better positioned to develop a portfolio of mobile-related technology for treasury and other services.
A key learning by the innovation group, Treacher said, is that the “eureka moments” come when technology is actually applied in the field in trials and field tests. They have also found that it is better to invest in technologies with a view to scaling them up rather than just selecting technology for smaller-scale pilots.
The fusion of tech ideas to clients and in turn to those clients’ customers, he observed, is what leads to success. Whereas a lot of innovation is focused internally inside banks, looking outside the bank has enabled his team to find new value propositions for customers which can also make the bank itself more efficient.
The bank has a lot of data, Treacher said, and is working to get its arms around the concept of data analytics. The exciting piece is tying the results of data analytics to mobile and using it to understand corporates’ distribution chains as well as how to support them better. He expects the bank to enable the supply chain digitally and to improve services for the supply chain massively as “internet of things” devices augment mobile and enable the bank to get a better handle on the supply chain
Where data analytics is also especially interesting, Treacher said, is in KYC utilities for compliance. Banks are collaborating much more, which allows central parties to support the use of analytics for the common good. He expects banks to look more at how to develop a single safe environment for corporate customer data that they can use to make both compliance and responding to queries easier, even when a corporate is using multiple banks.
“Using innovation smartly can add significant value,” Treacher observed.
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