Best Banks for Payments and Collections
Payments and collections may be the bread and butter of most cash management banks, but the real differentiator is breadth and depth of capabilities, product innovation and market coverage. Wells Fargo has all of this in spades. When it comes to the quality of its solutions, the bank says it received the most A+/A ratings in its peer group for product quality in the 2010 Phoenix-Hecht Large Corporate and Middle Market Quality Index surveys. According to an Ernst & Young 2010 survey, it is the leading provider of remote deposit services and ranks consistently in the top three for other payments and collection services. It has more than 100 cash vault locations for “expedited credit” on cash deposits across the US and 26 wholesale and retail lockbox sites across the US and in six Canadian cities.
At a time when other banks have been scaling back investment in their network or product capabilities, Deutsche Bank continues to expand investing in capabilities to help companies better manage their receivables. Building on the success of its FX4Cash platform, it launched FX4Cash Receivables to give companies greater control over their foreign exchange flows without having to maintain an account with the bank or in a particular currency. Despite the subdued adoption of SEPA payment instruments, Deutsche Bank, which was one of the first movers in this space, remains committed to helping companies realize the streamlined benefits of SEPA direct debits—centralized receivables. It is also investing in new payment channels such as mobile for corporate bulk payments, remittances and what it calls “emerging payment vehicles.”
The Asian banking powerhouse has an extensive network and branch presence throughout the region and has been at the forefront of efforts to internationalize the Chinese renminbi both within the region and globally through the provision of cross-border RMB-based trade services. Despite facing increased competition from regional, local and international banks, HSBC continues to demonstrate its capabilities to develop bespoke solutions that cater to the needs of companies in specific markets. Recognizing the increasing acceptance of electronic payments in certain markets, HSBC developed a customized “virtual account” solution for capturing remittance information and more tightly integrated its reporting with customers’ enterprise resource planning systems to enhance automatic reconciliations. Supporting a number of Asian currencies, HSBC is also a leading provider of accounts for other financial institutions.
Citi is the first choice for many companies in the region looking for a regional or global solution, which helps explain why it continues to see strong growth in both its local and international payment volumes. With its global reach and multicurrency capabilities it has won mandates for simplifying companies’ foreign currency payments so they receive funds more quickly, as well as mandates for centralizing companies’ banking activities across Latin America. Having spent the past three years putting the final touches to the merger between Citi’s Chilean arm and Banco de Chile, Citi says customers are now reaping the benefits with an enhanced service in more than 250 branches, particularly for check payments. It continues to work with central banks, payment associations and governments in certain markets to help them develop payment clearing mechanisms and infrastructures in line with international best practice.
Central & Eastern Europe
UniCredit is enhancing its accounts receivables capabilities by expanding its acquiring capabilities in markets such as Serbia, Slovenia and the Baltics. Customers can benefit from its extensive market coverage in CEE, and every year it launches more products in the region to help companies better manage their payments and collections. It is helping public authorities and corporates in the region deal with large numbers of receivables. The settlement of cross-border credit transfers can also be handled more speedily using its FlashPayment system, as long as certain requirements are met. In addition to the usual SEPA credit transfer and direct debit services, UniCredit also provides other services such as IBAN and BIC validation and handles customer test files to ensure they are SEPA-compliant.
Nordea says it has the largest distribution network in the Nordic and Baltic Sea region. Nordea’s network comprises 1,400 branch offices. It also has a wide global network that encompasses most of the major financial centers in Europe, the US, Asia and Latin America. In markets where it is not physically present, it partners with other leading banks and bank networks in order to service customers’ global payment needs. Focusing on investing in enhancing its product offering, Nordea is developing a new payment platform spanning multiple countries. Its Corporate eGateway provides customers with a standard entry point for domestic and international payments and automated reconciliation for incoming and outgoing payments. Last year the eGateway was upgraded to accommodate the new and more flexible ISO 20022 XML standards.
With extensive geographic coverage across the Middle East including its Saudi affiliate bank, SABB, HSBC has the region well covered to help companies better manage their payments and collections. While serving corporates has always been an integral part of its business, HSBC is also expanding its coverage in order to better serve financial institution customers. Its electronic banking platform HSBCnet remains a popular choice for companies in the region looking for a single-window solution for cash management. It launched an online real-time payment investigation solution to help resolve customer queries more quickly. It is also rolling out to different markets a service for expediting check collection.
Standard Bank’s extensive branch network and presence in 17 countries means it is well placed to act as a payments gateway for corporates and banks looking to transact business in the region. Although competition from foreign banks is increasing, few can match Standard Bank’s on-the-ground presence, local currency capabilities and market knowledge. Its e-banking platform provides customers with a unified view of their cash across the region so they can more easily fund or de-fund positions. In conjunction with China’s ICBC, which has a stake in the African bank, Standard has also developed a set of innovative cross-border Chinese-African cash management solutions to help companies better manage funds across the two regions.