"...today’s cash management and investment landscape is shaped by higher risk awareness..."

Roshan Mathew, Head of Global Transaction Services at DBS India on how banks can leverage technology as a differentiator, given its competition with fintech firms.

How is technology facilitating scale and efficiency in enterprises? Pls give us some anecdotes with regards specific technology use-cases, which brings out its value (to enterprises).
 
Technologies such as cloud collaboration, cloud applications (Apps) and the Internet of Things, have dramatically brought down the cost of starting a business and added speed at which one can scale up. For many firms, the key to scaling rapidly is the cheaper cloud technologies, which free up companies from the need to invest upfront in costly software and hardware. In fact, cloud removes all that undifferentiated heavy lifting of infrastructure costs, and gives way to virtual connections, which enable firms to buy computing power when they need it, and gives them the ability to innovate, and to test new features in a rapid and cost effective manner.
 
Being cloud native does also help in leveraging cloud-based tools to fulfill their accounting, sales, computing requirements, etc. Technology can also allow companies to navigate large amounts of data, support distributed sales force/client base and make the right decisions, even when growing fast. Artificial intelligence (AI) software is now offering companies new ways to understand their clients. Big data and AI can surface data in a way that provides users with better decisions and better conversations with their customers. The value to be realized in all this is significant. Predictive maintenance, logistics optimization, customer-service personalization and razor-sharp marketing - all of it could be a reality, and at compelling price points.
 
Banks are competing with smaller fintech platforms. Why is this so and how can banks leverage technology as a differentiator?
 
Bill Gates famously said, “people don’t need banks, they need banking”. The tectonic shift in technology has led to fintech companies attacking every aspect of financial services’ value chain, from payments to lending to capital markets. And that too in a very short span of time and in some cases, quite successfully. They bring an outside-in perspective to solving things end-to-end, defining minimum value proposition, or use cases, and then focus on getting the experience & business model right for scaled adoption. E.g. In the world of payments, Alipay is already the world’s largest payments platform, ahead of the global banks. A lot of the success of the fintech can be attributed to the ubiquitous smartphone, rise of the social and networked economy, and explosion of big data/cognitive learning. While banks have been slow adaptors, and not exactly agile, this is fast changing. Fintech companies do not have a monopoly on technology and banks are equal to the task now of leveraging the available technology.
 
At DBS, we are increasingly seeing partnerships with fintech firms, to bring to board some innovative business models. We have also developed the world’s largest banking API developer platform and are inviting fintechs and software developers to plug in. Resulting transformations are unimagined, both for us and our customers. We have to remember that banks already have a strong differentiator – brand, and trust - and if that is coupled with agility, as well as differentiated customer experience, well-aided by technology at various touch points (of the dealings), it is a winning proposition. In sum, the ecosystem has also expanded and it is collaboration (and not competition) that will help identify the winners. 
 
Banks' role as cash management advisors to corporations has grown in the last few years. Please throw some light on this.
 
Historically, cash management was seen as purely heavily transaction-oriented. Most obviously, it included basic account management (deposits, accounts, etc.) and payments. Banks further offered services in the areas of receivables management, both physical and digital mandates, including ACH receipts, etc. They would often offer payables automation services around bulk mixed payments and invoice presentments. However, today’s cash management and investment landscape is shaped by higher risk awareness, more sensitivity to liquidity and stricter systemic regulation. Together, these changes, along with rapid regulatory developments in the way money is moved digitally, are ushering in a new era in cash management. The bank’s role has moved in tandem, from being a facilitator of financial transactions to a trusted advisor. Today, in our discussions with corporates, we engage them on real-time credits, faster receivable management, reconciliation on-the-go with any form of data, real-time tracking of payments, simulations of cash structures across geographies, integrated payables management, and a host of other solutions that have an immediate impact on the corporate’s business and bottom line.
 
The role of banks has progressed beyond discussions with the finance team for cash management. It is now a complete journey with all stakeholders of corporates business - commercial finance team, as well as sales and procurement arms - to provide the most beneficial and value-added solutions. Cash management is one of the most interesting and rapidly evolving lines of business and client engagement for banks today, with conversations around payment timings, payment integration, dynamic discounting around early payments, etc. Banks are also looking at the entire customer journey, beyond banking (pre & post banking activities) to design their solutions - such that they can bring in newer ways of doing things, thus driving net efficiency & optimizing value to clients. Our belief is that with emerging technologies around advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and block chain, we can provide significant inputs around modelling that will positively impact bottom-lines.
 
What is Treasury PRISM? How does it help CFOs and corporate treasurers?
 
DBS Treasury PRISM is the world’s first online treasury and cash management simulation tool for CFOs and corporate treasurers. Treasurers often receive multiple cash management proposals from banks, therefore, determining the best solution is challenging, as benefits are not always clearly evident. Also, at times, the solutions are not comprehensive and coverage is very location-specific. DBS Treasury Prism empowers treasurers by enabling them to simulate various structures for a range of international currencies, taking into account the tax and regulatory implications - in over 20 markets, including key financial centers in Asia, Europe and the US. Each simulation features an Optimization Score, derived from a smart algorithm that takes into account the interest yield and debt, tax, bank fees and corporate costs, helping users quantify the benefits of each structure. 
 
PRISM also features a Knowledge Centre with articles on emerging trends, new solutions and the latest market practices in treasury and cash management, giving treasurers a full breadth of information. Corporates using PRISM love the idea of being able to know regulations in different markets and evaluate their options almost on a real-time basis, a process that earlier took weeks, and sometimes months. All this, on an open platform that is bank agnostic, and comes with advisory at no cost. This solution lives up to our brand promise of ‘making banking invisible’ and puts the power quite literally, in the hands of the corporate.
 

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