Bottomline announced at the Eurofinance Cash Management conference in Monaco yesterday that it has been selected by Lloyds Banking Group as a key technology partner for a new host-to-host connectivity service for its corporate clients.
The hybrid solution, chosen through competitive tender, is all about offering “simpler connectivity” for corporates, says Marcus Hughes, Director Business Development at Bottomline Technologies. The platform is intended to enable multiple corporates to connect to Lloyds’ infrastructure via the Bottomline service bureau. The bureau manages connectivity to Lloyds which will allow clients to execute transactions (such as bulk payments via BACS, SEPA Direct Debits or Credit Transfers and so on), view statements or carry out other data-related activities via the one channel. The Bottomline solution carries out data reformatting so the corporate does not need to change its own systems, instead just outputting in their format of choice.
“We do the heavy lifting for the bank, connecting to the corporate clients and their host systems – their ERP and treasury management and back office systems – and we connect them directly into the bank”, says Hughes. Lloyds has been offering a select group of its corporate clients host-to-host connectivity, and then only with restricted functionality. “This is much more of an aggregation of corporate clients enabling them to channel data in any format through a single, secure pipe to the bank,” says Hughes.
The project had grown out of work Lloyds had undertaken with the SWIFT service bureau, SMA Financials, before SMA was acquired by Bottomline a couple of years ago. According to Ian Chittick, Head of Digital Channels, Transaction Banking, Lloyds Banking Group, the bank had been seeking ways of delivering more direct contact with its corporate customers that would see a more expansive breed of host-to-host connectivity that could sit between traditional desktop solutions and mobile connectivity. “We want to make it much more commercial and deliver it to a broader base with more capability,” he says. “This is the start of that journey.” For Lloyds Bank it will start as a payments and cash management offering but the ambition is not to restrict what can be sent through the channel.
Typically this offering, which will eventually be made available to other banks by Bottomline, will be targeted at high-end corporate clients with international operations. Chittick confirms that Lloyds is already working with two early-adopters of the service, and although no names were forthcoming at this early stage of the project, these are known to be household names with substantial international operations. Commenting on the technical side of the project so far, Hughes says: “We know the connectivity works; we’ve done all the testing. Now it’s a case of taking the customers live.” This is expected to happen within the next couple of months.
Once live, Lloyds will look to add a broader base of functionality. This could be around invoicing and trade instruments. However, there is no solid roadmap for delivery, says Chittick. “With this kind of solution you don’t have to work like that. Because it is just a pipe, what you can do is be more reactive to the customer, finding out what they want to do. It’s about the bank incrementally increasing its ability to work closer with the customer.”