When it comes to processing cross-border payments, banks are continually developing new ways to help their clients fulfil their business payment objectives, fast and securely. BNP Paribas is ringing the changes with its digital Toolkit.
Treasurers have frequently faced challenges when making cross-border payments. However, with the advent of digitisation and interbank initiatives continually reshaping the payments ecosystem, businesses can begin leveraging ways of tackling these challenges. And not before time.
For Reuben Kane, FX+ Distribution, Global Markets at BNP Paribas, there are several issues at stake in the current cross border-payment environment.
“The first is being able to track and trace both incoming and outgoing non-STP payments, and being able to rapidly and easily identify and reconcile all payments,” he says. Secondly, in accounts receivables (AR), for example, he notes a challenge around pricing where there is little clarity along the payment chain on applicable FX margins.
Another persistent issue is in mitigating the ever present risk of fraud and cyber-attacks. Of course, there is also the necessary burden of compliance with KYC, AML and sanctions screening rules that particularly impact cross-border payments.
These issues are not insurmountable, says Kane, noting that from an operational perspective, their resolution lies in the almost universal treasury goal of achieving 100% straight through processing (STP). Naturally, this goal has its roots in technology.
“Treasurers are expected to deliver more with less in the current environment and I think digital technology is going to be a key driver and a key enabler of that,” he says. Indeed, he adds, BNP Paribas has positioned itself to help corporates leverage digital best practice, potentially saving clients time, money and resources.
Aurore Degive, Senior Product Manager, Payment & Collection, Cash Management at BNP Paribas, echoes the benefits of digitising cross-border payments.
“It used to be that we would just send an email when we needed extra information to release a payment, and this could take time,” she says. In collaboration with its clients, BNP Paribas has developed an electronic platform called Inquiro. This, says Degive, enables the interactive, user-friendly management of inquiries and payment status, deploying customisable alerts and the client payments history to speed up resolutions, all without their intervention.
BNP Paribas is also heavily engaged in payments technology at an industry level. Degive notes how SWIFT’s gpi solution – with BNP Paribas as a founding development partner – is now delivering traceability to cross-border payments. But she explains how the bank is already starting to build on gpi’s value proposition. “Gpi is the industry standard, but we are developing a range of solutions for treasurers to help them track their payments and at will, both via e-banking and by integrating gpi directly with their ERP systems.”
Where FX pricing calculation and application has been an issue for treasurers, as part of BNP Paribas’ international payments solution set, Kane highlights the benefits of the bank’s currency conversion tool, FX+ Payments. This is designed to give “full control and transparency” over the FX payment cycle as it sits seamlessly within the corporate treasurer’s existing workflow, “guaranteeing competitive and transparent conditions”. BNP Paribas has designed FX+ Payments to complement the strategic FX management of clients, their workflow and their architecture, he explains.
With solutions such as these being made readily available to treasurers, the processing of cross-border payments has seen many of the historical issues removed or mitigated. Of course, challenges and opportunities in the international payments space persist – it is the nature of a dynamic and, at times, volatile trading environment – but both Kane and Degive believe that BNP Paribas is positioned as a strong partner for its corporate clients. And, they say, it is intent on sustaining its role as an innovating bank, working for the development of clients and the industry as a whole.