Digitalization and automation blaze a path to post-pandemic profitability.
In 2021, BBVA, our pick as 2022’s Best Bank for Cash Management, streamlined cash management for multinationals with its BBVA Pivot: an ecosystem of channels and a global offering of cash management services to meet the transactional needs of businesses operating across borders.
Banks have invested in digitalizing their treasury services and channels to transform their transactional offerings; but the pandemic has been a significant catalyst for further digitalization, according to José Manuel Naz, head of Cash Management Sales for Latin America at BBVA Corporate and Investment Banking.
“For example, the ability to adopt digital signatures in contracts in most Latin American countries has been transformative in simplifying the formalization of relations between the bank and businesses,” he says. “In addition, the development and adoption of APIs [application programming interfaces] for the creation of ecosystems where companies can digitalize their business processes and seamlessly integrate them with their customers has been a game-changer for early adopters of this technology.”
Also, by extending e-commerce services for merchant customers, companies increased their sales through their digital channels.
“This transformation wave has expanded beyond banks, as initiatives promoted by local governments for the digitalization of payment systems are at the forefront of the strategy,” says Naz. “The market’s adoption of QR codes in Colombia, Mexico and Peru; or the digitization of checks, such as in Argentina, are examples of the important role the central banks, clearing systems and the government can play in this digital transformation. All of the new digital offerings, together with new value-added services, will make it easier for companies to reconcile and enhance liquidity management and traceability.”
Santander, which took home the Best Bank for Payments & Collections award, has introduced several innovative payment solutions for clients and nonclients, such as its partner PagoNxt’s Getnet open platform for collections and services. Other innovations include collections with Echeq and virtual wallets for business-to-business-to-consumer transactions. At the same time, its QR Pix enhancement of the instant payment method generates QR codes for online reconciliation in real time.
In July 2021, Citi, the Best Bank for Liquidity Management award winner, launched its Citi Digital Account in Latin America. This lets clients completely digitalize their banking experience and eliminates the need for “wet-signed” signature cards, checkbooks or manual transactions.
Using Citi’s Global Concentration Engine, clients can mobilize and pool cash domestically and across borders. Following the platform’s integration with Citi’s foreign exchange (FX) payments platform in Mexico, clients could reduce their liquidity and FX risk regionally and globally. Citi also launched multibank target balancing in Brazil to provide clients with real-time access to their balances held at third-party banks. The service, available in 11 regional countries, sweeps into a Citi account automatically throughout the day, further helping to mobilize cash and manage risk.
For companies requiring immediate liquidity, Fondos Fima, this year’s winner of the Best Provider of Short-Term Investments/Money Market Funds award, offers the Fima Premium fund, which provides immediate online liquidity with a yield close to a fixed-term deposit. The fund invests mainly in paid demand accounts and fixed-term certificates.
Covid-19 continues hampering Latin American economies; and the upcoming elections in Brazil and Colombia, and Costa Rica’s runoff election likely next month, raise the specter of political uncertainty and social disruptions that so often dampen regional growth. However, greater standardization across the region and the increasing adoption of nearshoring create opportunities, especially for companies utilizing smarter treasury solutions to manage their cash during times of stability and upheaval.