Cash & Liquidity Management In North America

The NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) area, is made up of - USA, Canada and Mexico, is the world's biggest trading blockt. Also NAFTA is the world's largest free trade area in terms of GDP, and some banks and service suppliers provide pan-NAFTA systems and services.

USA
Foreign exchange and domestic currency (USD) accounts can be held by resident companies both domestically and abroad. Nonresident companies' banks are permitted in in the USA denominated in either domestic or foreign currencies. Corporate demand deposit accounts (DDAs) are prohibited from paying interest. The USA has no exchange controls. Within the USA notional pooling is not permitted and zero-balance sweeping dominates.

There are some 7,000 commercial banks operating in the USA. Most are small, local banks. The 10 largest commercial banks control some 50% of the market.

Credit and debit card payments, not cheques, are now the predominant non-cash payment method, although cheques are still widely used. ACH payments are growing fast.

Canada
Foreign exchange accounts and domestic currency (CAD) accounts can be held by residents and non-residents both domestically and abroad. Resident domestic currency accounts are convertible into foreign currency.

There are 48 commercial banks, of which five major banks control the large majority of the banking asset base.

Debit and credit card payments dominate non-cash payments. Cheques are still widely used, and, as in the USA, ACH payments are growing fast.

Mexico
There are quite complex exchange controls in Mexico and domestic currency accounts cannot be converted into foreign currency.

There are 26 financial groups, many local banks and 80+ representative offices of foreign banks.

Debit and card cards are the most common form of non-cash payments, while cheques are still used widely and from a small based ACH payments are growing.

Recent Developments
Recent developments in cash and liquidity management solutions in North America have included:

  • the increasing complexity of international payment processing as a consequence of various new regulatory requirements, including the OFAC anti-money laundering standards;
  • the Dodd-Frank Act, which increases the regulatory burden on hedging activities using OTC derivatives;
  • volatility in FX markets increasing from early 2015, particularly as a result of a weakening dollar, following the end of the Fed's quantitative easing programme;
  • the need for corporates to find alternative sources of credit, as bank credit lines become more scarce as the implementation of Basel III regulations approaches;
  • increased globalisation and inter-dependency of trade, with companies of all sizes expanding and sourcing products from international markets;
  • the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) is putting the onus on US companies to disclose assets held in foreign bank accounts and pay appropriate taxes on the balances.

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