Mobile Moves Slowly in Asia

At the beginning of each year prognosticators routinely
predict that the year ahead will prove to be the turning point, and chief
financial officers (CFOs) in many organisations get ready to hop aboard the
paper-to-electronic journey.

Last year, Deutsche Bank did indeed
roll out a mobile solution for corporates, setting up a dedicated mobile app
for an insurance company client in Indonesia which enabled payment of insurance
premiums on mobile phones. When the insurer sends the invoice file, Deutsche
Bank sends an alert to the customer, who can approve it. Deutsche Bank sends a
debit file once the transaction is approved and credits its customer’s account.
While the service is straightforward, it greatly increases efficiency for the
corporate and is currently being rolled out to other markets.  

This year, once again, there is a new mobile service to report about. Citi
recently launched a service in China called Mobile Collection, which is
designed to replace cash collection with a secure mobile alternative that
enables corporates to settle funds in real time at the point of sale (POS),
with immediate confirmation to both the buyer and seller. Corporates in the
consumer sector can directly collect from their distributors’ account upon
short message service (SMS) confirmation and deliver merchandise, based on upon
a credit advice via SMS. According to Citi the solution, which is scalable to
customers in other industries with direct distribution models, offers a more
efficient way for corporates to receive payments from their distributors.

In the Pipeline

Despite having so few
mobile solutions beyond balances and approvals so far, it does seem that more
solutions actually could be on the way soon. Australia and New Zealand (ANZ)
Banking Group’s chief information officer (CIO), Anne Weatherston, told

itnews
in June that a new mobile platform designed to “leapfrog not
copy” its major competitors is “months away,” and other multinationals said
they have mobile solutions in the pipeline for launches before the end of the
year.

More broad-based initiatives are underway as well. While the
Interbank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS) in India is targeted more for
consumers, for example, the service establishes a mobile equivalent for every
bank account and creates an infrastructure for a variety of mobile payments.
Firms in South Korea are leveraging both the mobile infrastructure and the
existing clearing network to settle transactions immediately and give a
confirmation back to the seller who initiated the transaction. 

While a couple of launches and the promise of more to follow in the immediate
future don’t necessarily turn the tide – and not all global banks, let alone
local ones, say they have a game-changing mobile solution in the pipeline –
change does finally seem to be in the air. Corporates can look forward to
services that are far easier to access, increase efficiency and improve
collections as well as cash management. And while banks that have similar or
more advanced services ready for an early launch are in good shape, banks that
have been working to figure out what to do may need to step up the pace to stay
competitive. 

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