Treasury Strategy & Transformation
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Driving a Transformation in Transaction Banking

by Karin Flinspach, Head of Cash Products, Transaction Banking, Standard Chartered Bank

As treasurers attend treasury conferences in cities around the world, key conversations are defining and shaping both treasurers’ priorities and bankers’ responses. One of the most important trends that is driving these conversations is increasing treasury sophistication of companies headquartered in Asia, and the complexity Western corporations face as they expand in the region. What do these developments mean for treasurers, and how are they impacting transaction banking priorities?

Staying ahead in China

Despite softening growth and turbulent market conditions, China continues to be one of the top growth markets, and increasingly the most important market, for both Western and Asian corporations. The ongoing RMB internationalisation, with its implications for trade, liquidity, investment and as a reserve currency is already changing the way that companies do business. For example, the ability to link onshore RMB accounts into regional or global cash pools, not only for entities in the newly expanded Shanghai Free Trade Zone (SFTZ) but across China (in the latter case with restrictions), is a major step forward. This development, amongst others, is giving treasurers greater confidence that RMB is on an irreversible pathway to becoming a cross-border trade and capital currency.

As adoption of RMB as an international trading and investment currency moves from early adoption to the mainstream, companies that have not yet evaluated how they are using RMB should start to plan now to avoid losing out on competitive opportunities. One of these opportunities is to participate in pilot programmes that characterise the RMB internationalisation process. By working with partner banks that work closely with the regulators, treasurers can participate in shaping priorities and take early advantage of initiatives that directly benefit their businesses. For example, Standard Chartered has announced a series of ‘firsts’ over recent months which includes, most notably, its first yuan clearing transaction on China’s recently launched China International Payment System (CIPS) with IKEA.