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The Treasurer's Voice: eBAM
by Helen Sanders, Editor
In this month’s Treasurer’s Voice, conducted jointly by TMI and Treasury Strategies, Inc. we asked treasurers about their opinions and experiences of eBAM (electronic Bank Account Management). The response to the survey was overwhelming, with 260 responses in just two weeks. What became very clear, however, was that although eBAM appears to have become a familiar concept, there are some common misunderstandings about what eBAM really is.
Awareness and use of eBAM
We first asked treasurers how much they knew about eBAM (figure 1). The results demonstrated that the majority (57.8%) have no or little awareness as yet, but as a relatively new initiative this was not surprising. Tom Durkin, Global Head of Integrated Channels at Bank of America Merrill Lynch explained that this was consistent with his experience,
“While there is one group of customers who have, or are in the process of implementing and testing eBAM, a larger proportion of companies are seeking more information about the opportunities it offers, how to execute, and a better understanding of best practices.”
Figure 2, however, illustrates that there are perhaps some inconsistencies in people’s understanding of eBAM. For example, nearly 14% of respondents indicated that they were currently using SWIFT for eBAM, which is not consistent with current data volumes. Carlo Palmers, Corporate Market Solution Manager, SWIFT describes,
“Companies have two ways of exchanging eBAM messaging with their banks, either through proprietary solutions provided by their banks, or through SWIFT. Although eBAM has been available since 2010, we only started to see traffic through SWIFT in October 2011.”
With very little eBAM traffic through SWIFT at present, it seems highly unlikely that this proportion (equivalent to 36 companies) is exchanging eBAM messages through SWIFT. Similarly, while some treasury management system (TMS) vendors, and independent vendors are now providing sophisticated and highly efficient solutions for managing bank account and signatory information within the organisation, this should more correctly be described as ‘BAM’ or bank account management, as opposed to eBAM. eBAM refers to the electronic exchange of messages with counterparty banks for opening or closing accounts, or changing signatories.