Security – a Major Focus for Treasurers
An Executive Interview with Martin Bellin, Founder and Managing Director, BELLIN Group
In this edition, we welcome Martin Bellin, founder and managing director of BELLIN Group, a global leader in providing web-based treasury software and services for multinational corporations headquartered in Germany, with offices in North America and the UK. In this interview with Helen Sanders, Editor, Martin discusses the issue of security, which has become front of mind for corporate treasurers and finance managers globally.
Why has security become such a major focus for treasurers recently?
Over the past year or two, we have seen a series of significant security events around payment execution, from Leoni in Germany through to ABB in South Korea and SWIFT in Bangladesh, together with many lower profile fraud events in many other organisations, both successful and attempted. These events are taking place at the same time as a new payments landscape takes shape, creating not only potential challenges but also opportunities.
Many organisations are taking advantage of new opportunities to centralise and standardise their payment flows, including payment factories and shared service centres, but they are doing so to different degrees, with some decentralised responsibilities and multiple systems still remaining in many cases. To be clear, any company that is using more than one payment platform across the group is unnecessarily exposed to additional fraud risk. Every access point represents a risk, and a new challenge in maintaining and enforcing consistent processes and controls.
While five years ago there were limits in corporate treasurers’ and finance managers’ ability to consolidate payment platforms, these obstacles have been swept away, and companies that do not seek to take advantage of these opportunities neglect the risks that a fragmented payments technology infrastructure presents.
What are treasurers and finance managers doing to address this risk?
The way that each corporation deals with this risk depends largely on the individuals involved and their awareness, experience and appetite for embracing the possibilities that now exist in payments technology. Given the pace of change, keeping track of emerging opportunities can be difficult, particularly with a large number of stakeholders and commentators in the market offering different opinions and following different strategies. Furthermore, treasurers and finance managers have a variety of calls on their time and budgets, so it can be difficult to prioritise payment technology projects. However, the business case is compelling given the risk of significant financial and reputational damage, as well as delivering improvements in efficiency, automation and cost-effectiveness.
Can you give an example of the opportunities in payments technology that you’ve mentioned?
Recently, we announced that we had connected our 100th corporate customer to SWIFT via our platform, a process we started in 2014. Clients can now connect directly to any SWIFT-enabled bank that supports corporate access and exchange a wide variety of message types. While SWIFT connectivity has traditionally been the domain of large multinational corporations, as it was complex and expensive, this has changed radically over the past three years. A growing number of smaller and mid-cap clients are now using our solution to connect to SWIFT and benefit from the efficiency and automation, bank coverage and security previously enjoyed only by larger companies. For example, we recently connected a Japanese client to SWIFT via our service located in Germany, which would have been difficult to envisage three years ago.