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Implementing Payments and Collections Technology
by Siri-Anne dos Santos, Cash Manager, Yara International ASA
When Yara was demerged from Norsk Hydro, we originally took on Norsk Hydro’s treasury and payment systems so the new treasury function could get up and running quickly. As part of this infrastructure, we inherited a highly functional payment factory and in-house banking system, which had been built in-house at Norsk Hydro. Although the system met our functional needs, however, we recognised that a system developed in-house is very expensive to maintain and it is difficult to reflect industry developments. Furthermore, our lease for the system was only for five years, so the system had to be replaced.
In addition, while we recognised the value of a centralised treasury and payments infrastructure at Norsk Hydro, we had not determined whether this was the right business and technical model for Yara. We therefore conducted a study to determine whether Yara should maintain a centralised treasury, payments and collections factory. The outcome of this was very positively in favour of a centralised infrastructure, so we made the decision to select a new payments factory and in-house banking system.
As our existing system was built in-house and enhanced over a number of years, it was functionally-rich and was closely integrated both with our in-house systems and external banking partners. We had a number of systems from which payments originated around the group, and we work with a number of banks globally, using EDIFACT and SCORE (Yara has joined SWIFT as a corporate member) in our communication with banks. We were also using the system to process collections on behalf of business units around the world, which we needed to replicate in a new system. In addition, we wanted a liquidity management tool.
One issue we discovered when we reviewed the potential solutions that were available on the market was that in most cases, in-house banking capabilities were integrated as part of a treasury management system, as opposed to being a standalone function which could be used independently. We were already using SAP for core treasury management and did not intend to replace this unless the business case proved otherwise. Furthermore, most payment factory solutions did not support collections, which was also part of our project scope.