Photo of Mariko Yashiro and Josiane Farronato, Roche, Peter Cunningham, Citi and Banu Suman, Deutsche Bank.
Founded in 1896, Switzerland-headquartered Roche is the world’s largest biotech company. It employs over 94,000 people across more than 100 countries. In 2018 it spent CHF11bn on R&D annually and posted group sales of CHF56.8bn. It is the world’s largest biotech company.
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Increasingly, collaboration within the banking community has seen major players working together to help corporates achieve greater visibility over their payments, with cross border transactions presenting especially tough challenges, ranging from difficulties in checking the status of a payment to a lack of visibility over fees. It is a goal that is now becoming a reality, thanks to the arrival of SWIFT global payments innovation (SWIFT gpi).
Roche is a company with a long history in driving standardisation and embracing the use of sophisticated technology. With banks around the world already using SWIFT gpi to overcome these issues, Roche chose to put this new standard and leading innovation into practice itself.
Working with key partner banks Deutsche Bank and Citi, as well as with SAP, the company’s ERP provider, Roche piloted a new multi-bank gpi solution, going live with it in October 2018.
The company is already reaping a number of “compelling benefits” from its implementation, says Martin Schlageter, Head of Treasury Operations at Roche. “The process of resolving queries about payments has gone from taking two weeks to a couple of minutes. And in a couple of minutes we have the full picture – compared to the previous system, where the information we received after a couple of weeks might still only include 90% of the details,” he says.
Implementation of the solution has resulted in a number of benefits. By attaching a UETR to its cross-border payments, Roche is now able to access standardised automated tracking within its treasury system. This, in turn, means Roche can quickly determine whether a payment has been executed or delayed without needing to contact external parties – bringing significant efficiency gains. These gains include:
Faster query resolution: resolving queries about payments used to take two weeks and might only result in 90% of the relevant details – but with SWIFT gpi for Corporates, it takes a couple of minutes to achieve the full picture.
Reduction in fees and manual workload: as the scope of the project expands, Schlageter expects that gpi will result in a substantial reduction in manual workload. The service also provides full visibility over fees and deductions, leading to opportunities to minimise fees.
Furthermore, Schlageter says that SWIFT gpi for Corporates will allow Roche’s treasury team to analyse which currency flows are more expensive than others. “Some flows are more expensive than others, so what we are talking about is getting full transparency over what is happening, and using this information to identify better, faster or cheaper routes,” he explains.
While Roche worked closely with its banking partners and SAP on implementing the “game-changing” solution, Schlageter stresses that its successful execution required participation by many other banks and corporates.
Roche’s collaborators on the project included Airbus, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Booking.com, General Electric, IATA, Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Microsoft, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered Bank, SWIFT Treasury, Ping An, National Australia Bank, J.P. Morgan and UniCredit.
Accesses the benefits of SWIFT gpi without needing to log in to multiple banking portals.
Tracks the status of cross-border payments within the treasury system.
Resolves queries within minutes instead of weeks.
Analyses currency flows across different routes to identify possible cost savings.