Will 2017 Mark the End of the Laptop for Treasurers?
An Executive Interview with Societe Generale and KGK Diamonds
The ‘anytime, anywhere, any device’ concept is familiar to us all, but it is only now that this is becoming a reality in treasury. In this month’s executive interview, Helen Sanders, Editor, is joined by Céline Seratinsky, Societe Generale’s Head of Cash Management Web banking and Security Solutions and Aurélien Viry, Societe Generale’s Global Head of Payments and Cash Management, together with Sunil Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer at KGK Diamonds.
Why has the use of mobile technology in treasury emerged as a priority?
Viry, Societe Generale
While mobile treasury and banking capabilities have existed for some time, they are now reaching a ‘tipping point’, with a level of sophistication and flexibility that meets the needs of corporate treasurers, and a recognition of the role that mobile access to key banking activities can play in securing processes and managing risks and liquidity. As treasurers become more willing to use mobile devices in their professional as well as personal lives, we may be seeing a shift in working practices that could consign the laptop to history.
How would you characterise the evolution of mobile treasury capabilities?
Seratinsky, Societe Generale
Many treasurers are already accustomed to using mobile devices as a window to their account balances; however, increasingly, they are interacting more actively with transactions and data, such as verifying and signing transactions, and receiving alerts. In addition, treasurers are able to be more selective in the accounts they choose to view, the range of activities they undertake, and the way that information is presented. Increasingly, users’ demand for flexibility in the way that they use mobile banking apps will drive further depth and sophistication. In particular, clients are seeking to maximise convenience and responsiveness in the way that they access information and functionality.
From a corporate perspective, what are the benefits of mobile banking?
Agrawal, KGK Diamonds
KGK Diamonds has very quickly recognised the benefits of using web banking apps like Societe Generale’s Sogecash Web app, particularly as we have a partly decentralised treasury organisation. We have a regional structure, with three treasury centres in Hong Kong, India and Belgium that manage the cash and treasury management requirements for the entities in their respective regions. Some of our cash and banking activities remain decentralised and as a result, we now work with six banks, with various approaches to bank communication. With the Sogecash Web app in place, we can now access and interact with information and transactions wherever we are in the world on a real-time basis, which is very convenient for our treasury team. It also facilitates secure, efficient processes and decision-making.
Given that most large corporations are multi-banked, how do mobile solutions fit into their bank connectivity strategy?
The value of mobile banking apps is not restricted to treasurers that have a single banking relationship. One of the challenges with many web-based and host-to-host electronic banking systems is that companies often need to deal with different solutions for each bank, which creates complexity and fragmentation. This in turn led to the growth of multi-bank connectivity solutions such as SWIFT. However, this does not address the issue of mobile access to multiple banks. To avoid having to access different mobile apps for each bank, which dilutes the value proposition. Societe Generale enables clients to access transactions, data and functionality across accounts with any bank through their mobile banking apps.
International web banking tools also enable treasurers to support common local formats and comply with relevant regulations. This is a major factor in treasurers’ decision to adopt these solutions as opposed to using multiple applications from local or regional banks.
Many banks have a mobile banking app, but Sogecash Web is particularly distinctive in that we are able to connect to all our banks, in addition to Societe Generale, which is a feature that we did not see from other relationship banks. This is a major benefit for a global, multi-banked business such as KGK, as we are now able to leverage a consistent level of accessibility and functionality across all our banks through a single app.
What role does mobile banking play in strengthening treasury controls?
While the functionality of new mobile banking apps continues to develop and transaction volumes increase, security concerns continue to dominate conversations about the way that data is exchanged, verified and stored. Trust and reliability are the mainstay of the corporate – bank relationship, and this will become even more important in the future. Mobile apps are part of this trusted relationship, providing assurance of transaction and information security. By setting various levels of approval according to the value and sensitivity of transactions, for example, with alerts to senior managers, treasury committees can ensure that robust controls are maintained. Furthermore, our mobile banking app supports strong authentication and validation, using an out-of-band solution, to provide clients with the level of control and auditability that they require.