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BofA Merrill Lynch plan to extend transaction data repository beyond two years

BofA Merrill’s introduction of the Transaction Data Repository, see, in September 2013 was a breakthrough for electronic banking services. They were the first to offer to collect bank reporting and payment transaction data from ALL their corporate client’s banks AND hold the data for two years in an on-line real-time data repository.

The data repository

For corporate clients who have signed up for multi-bank reporting, BofA Merrill store two years of data from all the banks that their customers bank with. (This is most unusual with many other banks storing this kind of data only for 60, 180 or occasionally 365 days.) They also provide an in-house developed report writer to enable users to analyze the data. The other key feature of the Repository is the Research Area which enables users to search across all the data and find particular types of transaction, e.g. a query on wire transfers above $10million across all accounts at any bank over last two years would take about 10 seconds to answer.

The repository is made available to corporate users through any combination of all the major operating systems and browsers. Currently, the repository holds billions of rows and terrabytes of data

Users and usage

User range from smallest SMEs to some of the largest global MNC’s who use the single CashPro Online e-banking platform. Some use BofA Merrill for all their multi-bank reporting aggregation while others use a combination of the different bank systems. One of the constraints is that multi-bank reporting is not cheap, even though BofA Merrill charge the same for receiving other banks’ data as they do for their own data, there is still remains the cost of the other banks’ data export fees.

Currently, BofA Merrill run 34 million reports a year, and have 4.5 million research requests producing 112 million research results a year. Usage is continuing to grow.

Some clients use the BofA Merrill CashPro Accelerate service to automatically the upload the data into an Excel spreadsheet. For clients that only require cash positioning and cash flow forecasting that might be enough. However, most clients use the data repository in conjunction with their TMS where they process payment initiation, in-house bank, and hedging operations.

The impact of the repository is on how clients are storing their data, e.g. clients no longer have to save month end statements to the hard-drive. In addition, even if when clients have a TMS, some find that the research module is more useful because it is so fast and has multi-bank access, and often stores more data than the TMS.

The other impact of the data aggregation and CashPro Accelerate service has been that the improvement in cash visibility processing, e.g. one client used to take five hours to calculate their daily cash position, now do it in 10 minutes.

Future development

John Scully, head of Information Reporting and Receivables for Global Treasury Product eChannels at BofA Merrill, believes that the availability of the new very low cost computer servers is transforming how we view data repositories for corporate clients’ bank account and transaction data. Storage is now so cheap that BofA Merrill is, in the near future, planning to extend the two year time frame of the data repository. And in the longer term, they are examining how to replace the storage of remittance data on CDS with storing it on-line. John commented that, “As we give our clients more and more data, it is now our job to give our clients actionable options on what to do based on that data. This is where the real value add is.”

CTMfile take: Online storage of vast amounts of corporate treasury department’s bank account and payment data will make day-to-day operations easier; the real benefit will be when the banks and the TMS providers work out how to exploit this data to improve corporates’ cash and treasury management. In addition, we expect more banks to store 2-3 years of data, and for banks to work closely with TMS providers to exploit these data repositories.

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