Similarly, Arafat Sheik Jabbar, Head of CitiDirect Asia Pacific at Citi, explains that by continuously gathering user feedback, Citi has been able to optimise the intuitiveness of their corporate mobile solutions. And, the smart choice in taking time to advance is paying off. According to Srinivas Nidugondi, Head of Mobile Financial Solutions for Mahindra Comviva, “mindsets are changing and corporates are quite excited. Aside from mobile payment solutions being a ‘current’ thing to talk about, a lot of them are beginning to see benefits in this overall way of doing transactions as well.” Sheik Jabbar cites the delivery of time-critical information – such as access to balance information, status updates and alerts – remotely and on demand as an example of how mobile solutions are helping treasurers make informed decisions whilst on-the-go. “Additionally, treasurers are able to translate financial data into global business intelligence with just few taps on their tablet, viewing data globally, by region or country and filter by currency, amount, country in map or chart views.”
Initially, corporate mobile applications were largely informative, providing notifications for the end-user but newer solutions are becoming more interactive and action-orientated. “In Asia, we have seen an increase of functionality being added to the mobile platform,” says Citi’s McLauglin.
Solutions on the move
As corporate treasurers grow more comfortable with mobile channels, and the services on offer undergo development, the desire to perform more sophisticated treasury-related tasks via the medium of mobile is increasing. For example, Aite Group’s survey of 45 corporate treasurers in May 2014 revealed that 51% of respondents ranked approving wire payments as ‘important/critical’ and 46% believed initiating wire payments would be ‘nice to have’. According to Zink, “changing corporate client preferences – looking for fast fully-integrated solutions, lean processes, 24/7 access via the web and mobile devices – goes hand in hand with the evolving role of treasurers in modern enterprises.” Treasurers are more accountable for the regulatory compliance and cash positions of their organisations and management ultimately relies on their insights to make the right decisions at the right times.
The treasurer’s traditional role also requires more effective payments mechanisms and accurate cash flow forecasting. This translates into a need for an accurate, real-time and comprehensive view of the liquidity position of an organisation – increasingly on the go, Zink explains. Moreover, further “technological advances like integration with ERP, elimination of hard token login requirement, user friendly applications in a complex multi-entity and multiple accounts banking structure, productivity will definitely improve,” says Goel.
But is such productivity for everybody? For Damian Glendinning, Treasurer at Lenovo, some responsibilities certainly shouldn’t be mobile-based: “Typically, we tend to be formal about the payment approval process. Mobile suggests the tendency to do things on the move – if you’re on the tube home or waiting in a queue – and in my view, that’s not the appropriate environment.
“Payment enablement, however, is very different from passive consultation of bank accounts. If you’re waiting for confirmation of payment, for example, then this can be done in a less formal environment.” KyongSun Kong, Analyst for Asian Financial Services at Celent explains that corporates sometimes prefer face-to-face and formal interactions due to more intricate requirements.
There is some disparity in opinions but certainly, for Zink, greater data analytics and business intelligence capabilities are playing a crucial role in allowing banks to mine large amounts of data increasingly near real-time, while data visualisation and dashboarding makes data more actionable and easier to digest – particularly on mobile devices. Celent’s 2014 survey Mobile Banking in Asia indicated that growth in transaction volume is the top driver encouraging banks to enhance their corporate mobile banking capability.
Perhaps the largest barrier to adoption remains concerns over security. There is a degree of resistance towards the idea of allowing corporates access to networks over mobile devices. However, the perception that mobile technology is inferior regarding security is reducing as users become better informed. “The same security that exists in the desktop world also exists in the mobile and tablet world,” explains McLauglin. Information is carried using the same bandwidth and, with the exception that a mobile device does not have a fixed IP address, security measures are applied in largely the same way.