Moving Beyond the Desktop: The Future’s Bright, the Future’s … Mobile?

It was when I was 5,000 kilometres from home and needed to check my bank balance and transfer funds that I realised the immense power of my smartphone. Everything was carried out within a few minutes and I was assured that it was all done in a secure manner.  I could only hope this was the case.

In the workplace and among corporate treasuries in particular the adoption of mobile technology has been slow to say the least. However if the research is correct then things are about to take off.

The 2013 gtnews Payments Survey indicates that only 7% of companies worldwide currently use any form of mobile payments technology. This figure is going to increase to 18% over the next three years, according to the research. Maybe therefore the time is right to look at this issue more closely.

By mobile technology I am referring to the use of phones, tablets and other devices to perform treasury activities such as payment initiation, authorisation, bank account balance and transaction views, analytics and market research. As corporate treasuries continue to centralise one of the consequences of this trend is to reduce the number of people within treasury. The push then is to do more with less people and technology is a necessary enabler for this.

How often does it happen that a key treasury person is out of the office on business just when an urgent payment needs to be made, and he or she has final authorisation rights? How often when travelling do you need to confirm whether an invoice has been paid and that funds are on the account as promised?  Being able to perform these functions while on the move is really useful. So what’s stopping this progress?

The Security Angle

Security is an obvious concern, but many of the experts that I have read argue that there is no real difference between a desktop PC and a tablet, for example, in relation to security. Information is carried using the same bandwidth and security measures such as logon, access right and logoff work in a similar way.

When I have spoken to corporates about this they generally make a few basic points. Firstly, not all companies’ own IT groups have signed off the security dimension of mobile technology, so there may be corporate-wide edicts against currently using it. Secondly, it is argued that mobile technology is not a tried and tested technology (just look at length of time it took for companies to embrace electronic banking) and treasuries do not want to be the ‘guinea pigs’. The stakes are also much too high. It might be fine for a personal user of mobile banking to use it to make small payment values, but treasuries deal in very large values and nobody wants the responsibility of one of those payments going awry.

There will be no stopping the advance of technology and those users of mobile treasury technology really see this as the future for fast-moving treasuries. Watch this space!

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