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5 ways treasury can support business in the digital economy

Research by McKinsey looks at the economic impact of the shift towards the globalisation of big data and what this means for multinational companies.

McKinsey's authors write that cross-border data flows were negligible just 15 years ago but now they are contributing as much as $5 trillion to the global economy each year (directly and indirectly). This figure can only get bigger in the near future. They estimate that half of the world's trade is already digitised and 12 per cent of the global trade in goods is conducted via international e-commerce (with China leading in this space with online sales via sites such as Alibaba.com).

The report Digital globalization: The new era of global flows suggests areas that corporate executives should focus on as companies embrace trade and services in the digital age. How can corporate treasurers support their businesses in the new digital economy? Here are five suggestions:

1. Payments for competitive companies

The ability to develop and get new products online and on sale quickly is changing the marketplace. The report's authors write: “New digital competitors from all over the world are unleashing pricing pressures and speeding up product cycles.” Corporate treasury can support a digital sales strategy by embracing omni-channel payments, with a particular emphasis on online and mobile payments. A report by Kount found that more retailers are now offering their customers the option of paying by mobile phone or through an app, but few are tracking and monitoring this process.

2. Multi-skilled corporate treasurers

Much of digital business in future will be treading new ground, which means that companies will rely on professionals with multiple areas of expertise and there will be greater collaboration between different departments. The report says: “Businesses in all industries need to take a fresh look at their assets, including customer relationships and market data, and consider whether there are new ways to make money from them.” This could mean that corporate treasury will have to interact far more with the marketing department, for example, as well as IT, sales, etc. What's happening across the organisation – from product development to social media – will also determine the company's cash and payment needs.

3. Supporting global business with uniform payments

Many companies and brands now have a simplified offering that's replicated in different countries. McKinsey gives the examples of Facebook, Uber and Airbnb. A uniform offering with little local customisation in different countries also means that customers will expect a uniform payment experience. Corporate treasury may have to work with local payments providers and banks to ensure the customer experience is standard wherever the customer may be.

4. Flexible financing is key to a changing supply chain

While digital solutions can offer up-to-the-minute visibility into complex supply chains, many companies are starting to re-evaluate their lengthy supply chains and approximately one-third of high-tech companies are moving their manufacturing or assembly closer to end-user markets. Whether the hi-tech disrupter is 3D printing or ever-improving digital communications and remote working, global supply chains are at a point of flux and corporate treasury should be ready to react and provide flexible financial support as change occurs. This CTMfile article looks at seven ways to achieve a healthy supply chain.

5. Treasury well-placed to address the new digital risks

Data security is a huge challenge for companies in all sectors and financial data is in the firing line from potential hackers and internal fraud. Much has already been written and said about the corporate approach to cybersecurity and it almost goes without saying that it's a huge priority for corporate treasurers everywhere. 

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This item appears in the following sections:
Fraud Prevention
ID Systems & Services in Fraud Prevention
Minimizing Payment Fraud
Payments - Receipts
Accounts Receivable Management
Billing Systems & e-Invoicing
Direct Debit Bill Payments
International Bill Payments
Payments - Receipts at POS
Collecting Payments via Mobile
Trade & FSC Management
Trade Finance

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