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Mobile Banking: A Treasury Game Changer?

by Thomas Wiles, Global Head of Electronic Channels, Standard Chartered Bank 

As mobile devices are usually thought of in consumer terms, their ability to offer more complex services to corporate treasurers has yet to be fully exploited. 

Mobile banking is by no means a new phenomenon. The retail banking sector has used the technology to reach large numbers of customers while simultaneously reducing deployment and servicing costs for some time now. Mobile banking for corporates is therefore the next logical step. There is little doubt that the mobile channel (as opposed to other financial service channels such as bank branches, POS terminals, ATMs or the internet) offers huge promise as a way of enabling treasurers to remotely carry out complex and important operations that they may otherwise only be able to do within limited environments. 

Much of mobile technology’s promise is derived from the fact that, despite being a late market entrant compared with other telecommunication technologies, it has become equally ubiquitous across both the developed and the emerging world. As such, the future may see the mobile channel quite quickly emerge as the global channel of choice to meet certain control functions – allowing treasurers to manage liquidity more effectively and streamline their working capital cycles. And in the emerging markets, its effect on the financial service landscape may be monumental – eclipsing even that of the internet. 

Working capital efficiencies

While the opportunities for mobile financial services for treasurers are conceptually endless, the key proposition is centred on alerting and payment functions that can be delivered in small ‘bites’.  Primarily, mobile banking allows the consumption of time-critical information remotely and on demand – whether this is instantaneous access to balance information, status updates on the outcome of major financial transactions or alerts that enable decision-makers to affect corporate decisions. And secondly, mobile technology provides treasurers with the ability to approve financial transactions directly, such as foreign exchange trading or wires, including those requiring multiple signatories.