Regional banks are innovating and partnering with fintechs to help their clients survive the pandemic—and make the treasurer’s job easier going forward.
Banks in Western Europe are harnessing a combination of local knowledge, specialist tools and innovative technology to help businesses stay afloat during the Covid pandemic—and stay ahead of an increasingly demanding client base. A recent EY report found that corporates expect their banking partners to provide access to accurate, real-time information; streamlined services; streamlined onboarding and integration with a client’s core systems—all within banks’ digital transformation efforts.
Spain’s Caixabank, Global Finance’s 2021 regional winner for Outstanding Achievement in Treasury Operations during the Covid Pandemic, stands out for a mix of solutions it has introduced to prop up the country’s small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), including a €1 billion social bond to fund SMEs and microenterprises in Spain’s most disadvantaged areas.
CaixaBank CEO Gonzalo Gortázar says CaixaBank’s overall purpose is to contribute to the financial well-being of its clients as well as support the progress of the communities where it operates and of society as a whole. “As more than 60% of the Spanish GDP is generated by SMEs they have a key role in the economic and social recovery of the country,” he says. CaixaBank has financed the business sector with €83,700 million outside the lines the Spanish Government ICO COVID-19 credit facilities. With ICO endorsement, it has granted more than 184,000 loans worth €12,640 million. “With all these measures, CaixaBank has been key in mitigating the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak,” adds Gortázar. “A real testimony of our employees’ efforts to stand by society in these difficult times.”
Societe Generale, 2021 Best Bank for Cash Management in Western Europe, is building on SG Markets, its reference digital client platform, to create a best-in-class experience for corporate treasurers. “Tomorrow’s successful banks will be those that can offer a wide array of digital services, making the corporate treasurer’s job easier, all through a single unified and user-friendly client interface,” says Alexandre Maymat, head of Societe Generale’s Global Transaction and Payment Services. “Our ambition is also for our biggest clients to promote multibank solutions to facilitate the client journey in front of an increasing regulatory burden. The Swift initiatives on KYC [know your customer] for corporates or banks, or on the implementation of a common platform on embargo and sanction controls, are very promising in this respect.”
To keep cash flowing, Nordea, the region’s Best Bank for Liquidity Management, uses virtual accounts, a balance-netting cash concentration solution and AutoFX, a program that automates FX handling and account balance monitoring, including cross-currency sweeping and topping. Full API integration into the customer’s enterprise system allows customers to manage FX risk in real time. It also provides them with guaranteed multicurrency rates via their e-commerce webshop or checkout process.
Intesa Sanpaolo, rated Western Europe’s Best Bank for Payments and Collections, developed its Business to Person Platform (BPP), an automated solution that helps corporate treasurers refund payments or deposits previously executed by customers—for example, at the termination of a utility service contract or the recrediting of overbillings from previous invoices. An intelligent routing engine contacts the beneficiary on behalf of the payer with details on how amounts will be credited. Building on BPP’s initial success, Intesa Sanpaolo is extending it to cover other reimbursements, including insurance claims payments and occasional salary payments.
This type of smart solution bodes well for treasurers looking to optimize cash—a critical undertaking in light of the stresses that the coronavirus and Brexit are putting on cash flow.