Inside Sibos | Day 2

Author: Rebecca Brace

As this year’s corporate forum at Sibos gets underway, what topics are corporations particularly focusing on?

This year’s line-up includes a discussion around corporate-to-bank connectivity and the associated challenges. One of the speakers is Martin Schlageter, head of treasury operations at Swiss healthcare giant Roche, who says that the company is focusing on a number of different SWIFT-related areas that go beyond just bank connectivity.

These include corporate-to-corporate connectivity and electronic bank account management (eBAM), as well as standardization via initiatives such as the common global implementation (CGI), which aims to support the adoption of ISO 20022 XML messages. He adds that another point of interest is SWIFT’s role as a direct service provider through its Alliance Lite2 offering. Roche is connected to SWIFT via a service bureau. The firm uses MT101, MT940, MT300 and MT320, MT5XX for securities confirmations and FileAct for all their mass payments and other bank services (for example, lockbox and credit card information).

Andre Casterman, global head of corporate and supply chain markets at SWIFT, says that a key pain point for companies is the challenge of reconciling cash flows against outstanding invoices. With clearing systems only supporting a limited number of characters—typically 140 characters or less—payment information is often truncated, making it difficult for sellers to identify which invoice or invoices are being settled by a particular payment. As a result, reconciliation often has to be completed manually. In order to address this issue, Casterman says that SWIFT is working with retail clients to enable the delivery of full remittance information by using ISO 20022 XML standards.

Meanwhile, bank relationships are a perennial focus for treasurers around the world, and Laurence Leyden, VP and head of financial services industries, EMEA at SAP, says that the evolution of these relationships is a key topic at this year’s event. “If you look at the future of corporate banking, there are a lot of corporates that want their banks to change, and a lot of banks that want to service their corporates in different ways,” he says.

According to Leyland, banks have moved on from focusing on pure transaction execution and are increasingly asking how more value can be added to their interactions with corporations. As such, banks are increasingly looking to position themselves as collaborators with their corporate clients—but in order to do so, banks first need to be able to offer insights based on more information and greater analysis capabilities—which requires better data, better integration, and better solutions to sift through all of that data.