The Mobile Treasury – Fact or Fiction, Freedom or Fear?
by Mike Burn, Client ACCESS Product Executive, Treasury Services, EMEA, J.P. Morgan
“There’s an app for that…”
The development of tools and software for treasury professionals could be described as a slow evolution, rather than a revolution. Whilst those tools may have migrated from offline to online over recent years, they have still shared the same constraint: tethering the user to a desktop or laptop and thus hindering their mobility.
Trends that occur in the consumer space are inclined to eventually move to the corporate arena. But is that true of the trend towards mobile and could treasury professionals do all they need from such a device, anytime, anywhere?
Some would argue that treasury processes are dependent on the display of high volumes of data across spreadsheets and thus mobile with comparatively small screens is not conducive. Similarly, they might also argue that security is an immense concern. Mobile technology is relatively new, and so unproven from a security perspective.
These are two valid concerns for consideration. From an informational standpoint, one could suggest that mobile tools are perfectly adequate and it’s just a matter of adjusting to a new routine. Just as many content providers on the internet are adjusting to the reality of a huge trend towards consuming that content using mobile devices, so banks and third-party providers in the treasury space will adjust too. Data can be displayed quickly and elegantly in an app, and if the drill-down through that data is fast, intuitive and clear, then detail can quickly be found, even if it isn’t all displayed at once as users are accustomed to with spreadsheets.
In particular, the key data that many treasurers want to rapidly see when they log on to any internet banking software, or treasury management system, is the view of their cash position, and what that is in aggregate, by currency, by bank, by country, by legal entity and so forth. All of that information, and more, can be provided quickly on a mobile device, and then those crucial investments or borrowing decisions can be made on the basis of that information. In fact, the ‘Quick Decision’ feature of J.P. Morgan’s current ACCESS mobile app provides just that functionality today.
Given the current economic environment, knowing a company’s cash position at any point in time, to manage risk is absolutely crucial. For a treasurer to be able to obtain that information any time on a mobile device, as well as on a desktop or laptop, is a significant benefit. Think of it as a contingency channel, for example, if the internet service provider to your office is down, you could still receive your balances on your smart phone or tablet.
The migration to mobile seems to me somewhat inevitable, and so the right question should be; “How do we make it as secure as, or even more secure than online desktop portals?” It is also important to realise that whether using an app, or a browser application on a mobile device, it is essentially accessing the internet so it is misleading to think of it differently in that respect. However, one thing for sure is that a mobile device is even more likely to get lost or stolen than a laptop or desktop.