Global Finance: What challenges are top of mind among treasurers in the Asia-Pacific region?
Francyn Stuckey: Today’s playing field is bigger, tougher and changes faster than ever before. How the treasurer manages these challenges ultimately comes down to their risk-reward appetite. If they are looking to enter or evolve in Asian markets, this is where our bankers can step in. ANZ has the expertise to help companies manage their risk across Asia, including the Mekong, and they [treasurers] like the security that comes with working with a double-A-rated bank.
GF: When it comes to payments and collections, what sort of innovations should companies be aware of?
Stuckey: Some of the innovations include a move to real-time payments in most Asian countries, increasing digitization of government services, and the continuing adoption of ISO 20022 XML [a standardization system used in financial services]. Most payment and collections services are automated, and the adoption of electronic payments systems is driving ‘smart’ collections, by mobile or card. But there are still a number of countries in Asia where paper is prevalent and companies are focused on the basics of payment processing, reconciliation of collections and payroll. There have been a lot of discussions recently around bitcoin, blockchain and distributed ledger and the potential for these to disrupt financial services. At ANZ we believe these technologies provide opportunities and are pleased to be part of the group of pilot banks for the SWIFT global payments innovation initiative.
GF: What role is mobility playing in treasury operations?
Stuckey: We are seeing above-market-level adoption for our mobile offering. And we will shortly be launching further capabilities that will enable treasurers to work across the working capital and supply chains. Today, with the companies we work with, treasurers are most likely to use mobile for authorization and reporting. For treasury operations, online, host-to-host or SWIFT-based solutions still dominate. Some of the mobility themes include integration of the mobile solution with treasury systems and SWIFT’s platform, so this space will continue to evolve.
GF: How are the relationships between banks and cash managers evolving?
Stuckey: In my twenty years in the industry, treasurers and cash managers have become more sophisticated. Many have implemented liquidity structures and/or integration solutions previously. Additionally, they now have more access to information. As a result, today’s treasury team has become very conversant on transaction banking capabilities.