What Treasurers Want from Mobile Apps
Mobile applications that integrate with multiple systems can help treasurers to achieve a number of business goals and improve their speed and accuracy of decision-making. A secure and sophisticated mobile app enables treasurers to view cash positions and dashboards in real time or near real time, validate or approve payments on the move, receive alerts, mitigate risk, and manage supply chain finance (SCF) and investments while out of the office. Mobility increases the number of opportunities for checking and authourising these transactions.
Mobile offerings should be aligned with corporate requirements, and incorporate the following key capabilities:
Cash position: The treasurer should be able to specify the accounts to be included and see specific details such as cash position, account balance and recent transactions via the mobile channel, with detailed and graphical summaries for each account or consolidated accounts.
Account-to-account transfers: The treasurer should easily be able to transfer funds between accounts using a tablet, smartphone or similar mobile device. In doing so, the user should quickly be able to look at the balance available for transfer, as well as information for the account into which the funds are being transferred.
Approvals/Validation/Authorisation: Complex transactions such as payroll batches, trading and payments require multiple treasurers and signatories for approval. Mobile applications ‘anytime, anywhere’ accessibility should help both parties to validate transactions on the go.
Alerts: Mobile solutions should send alerts periodically to the treasurer informing him or her about the cash position and deadlines for transaction. If the account balances and transactions either exceed or fall below a pre-determined level, then treasurers should get alerts and push notifications for responding with suitable action.
SCF: Treasurers adopting an integrated mobile solution that communicates with multiple systems, such as core banking or client enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, should be able to achieve quick working capital finance via real time electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) and approval. The mobile application, by virtue of integration with various financial systems, should help treasurers understand the risk exposure through real time information from sources such as credit agencies and people in the field authorising receipt of goods.
Investment management: Mobile solutions should facilitate treasurers’ performance of pre-trade, trade and post-trade functionality by providing them with a wide range of cross-market apps such as time-series analysis, portfolio analysis, optimisation, trade execution, clearing and settlement data. Provision of a comprehensive securities suite to cater across a multitude of asset classes, augmented with high quality research reports and a detailed real time management information system (MIS), can enable treasurers to make prudent investment decisions.
Positive pay decision: Treasurers should be able to receive an image of any suspect cheque via their mobile application, enabling them to make a decision to either release or stop payments on the go.
Strategy and risk mitigation: Integrated mobile platforms can connect to multiple systems, such as core banking, customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence, which have rich MIS. Treasurers can use decision-making tools such as key performance indicators (KPIs) and graphs to devise strategy, make rapid business decisions and mitigate risk.
A treasury mobile solution must have an intuitive and user-friendly interface and users should be able to access desired information swiftly, without navigating through multiple screens. The present modes offered in mobile banking are store and forward mechanisms (SMS), the text-based menu driven application Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), SIM Toolkit (STK), mobile browser Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and a downloadable app. The two modes that will be the primary offerings in future to customers are the latter two; WAP and downloadable apps.
WAP browser is the easiest solution to implement, offers broader functionality and is very consistent with online portals, although experience can vary with mobile devices, and it is an older technology. Downloadable apps are the favoured mode for smartphone users. Apps provide a high-quality user experience thanks to the combination of complete control of user interface (UI), screens, phone functions and timing of server connectivity. User experience can be delivered consistently for multiple devices and operating systems. The user can leverage native components of the phone and apps to perform complex transactions and broader functions – for location-based services and remote deposit capture one can use the global positioning system (GPS) and the phone’s camera respectively. In the case of apps, only transactional information is exchanged between the server-based components and the mobile device which, in turn, improves transaction speed and reduces mobile data costs for end users.
Mobile Technology Adoption
Mobile technology adoption is in an incipient stage and in future will become an indispensable tool for the corporate treasurers. Hence, it becomes imperative for technology vendors, banks and mobile network operators (MNOs) to collaborate in order to achieve a win-win situation. The immediate aim of vendors is to target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they are often more open to adopting mobility innovations for their treasury solutions than major players, which tend to have more complicated internal systems and longer switchover periods.
The key to mobile treasury solutions would is to specify a device-agnostic solution that provides a seamless user experience across a wide range of devices (tablets, mobiles) and platforms (iOS, Android). Treasurers generally have a negative perception as regards the security of mobile applications; hence risks and threats must be addressed and the highest security standards must be implemented before high-value transactional services go mobile. Adhering to security measures such as multi-layered authentication, RSA SecurID tokens, biometrics and secure sockets layer (SSL) will ease the concerns of treasurers regarding security of mobile devices. The onus is on the banks, as well as the technology vendors, to promote awareness about the security and usability of mobile applications.