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Corporate treasury department: take control & build your own future in the API age

The API inter-connected age is in full swing, the launch of TreasuryXpress’s App store is just the latest example of the new opportunities opening up to corporate treasury departments. Wikipedia define API as, “In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building software and applications.” They (whoever wrote this part of Wikipedia) comment that:

  • a good API makes it easier to develop a programme by providing all the building blocks, which are then put together by the programmer
  • an API may be for a web-based system, operating system, database system, computer hardware, or software library
  • an API specification can take many forms, but often include specifications for routines, data structures, object classes, variables, or remote calls. POSIX, Microsoft Windows API, the C++ Standard Template Library, and Java APIs are examples of different forms of APIs.

Don’t let the techy last point scare you - it is just about the tools that programmers use, the author’s final comment is much more important to your future: “Documentation for the API is usually provided to facilitate usage.” That is exactly what happens in TreasuryXpress’s Lab store.

Wizards and inter-connectivity standards now “just work”

In the 20th century, the cost of having to visit each customer to install and train each user stopped many projects dead even though there were instruction wizards to help users. Since 2000, though these have improved significantly, as have the inter-connectivity system standards (the APIs), so that last week TreasuryXpress had no concerns about launching their Lab store selling Apps in which the user implemented the App themselves, just like we do on our mobile phones. (Although help from 10 year old gurus are needed by many of us.)

The first TreasuryXpress App store is selling at the rate of three each day, so clearly the delivery model is working, AND they are connecting their App not just to their own TMS system, but also to Oracle and SAP systems. 

Another example of the power of APIs is how Mango Pay - a fintech tool for supporting payments in crowdfunding platforms - in just 14 months has been installed as the payment solution in 1,200 platforms in 25 countries. This could only have happened using APIs and implementation wizards. 

The age of API inter-connected systems and services really is here.

New pricing levels and structures changes the business model

Not only this; the new API interconnected world is opening up opportunities to cut prices dramatically. If there are minimal  implementation and training costs, some suppliers are going to pass this on to the corporate treasury department, e.g. TreasuryXpress charge less than $50/month for their forecasting package. While other suppliers will provide much more customer support, e.g. strategic treasury advice, and so keep their higher prices. There is no doubt that the new API inter-connected world takes out a huge chunk of service delivery costs which will impact the business model for corporate treasury service delivery and consultancy. 

No one is going to be exempt. The increasing level of strategic corporate treasury advice from the TMS providers could change the dynamics of corporate treasury consultancy? Already we are seeing some corporate treasury consultancies starting to minimise their corporate based consultancy and focus more on the banks. 

Build your own or buy integrated solutions?

All corporate treasury departments, both big and small, have the pressure to ‘do more with less’. Yet there are some that are expanding or at least not cutting their staff, particularly those departments which have been able to convince their CFO and senior management that they should be judged on their contribution the company not just headcount. It is from these corporate treasury departments that we are seeing a new phenomenon (well actually it has been with us for the last decade at least) in corporate treasury departments: employing dedicated IT (staff sometimes as 3-4 or more) to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the department. 

Some of the most exciting and innovative developments in corporate treasury operations have come from these departments, e.g. integrated POBO and ROBO payment factories where they have essentially built their own solution. In the API inter-connected world it is becoming much easier to put together your own solution.

However, it is also becoming easier for TMS providers to integrate other systems into their solution, e.g. BELLIN’s recent integration of 360T’s web-based trading technology into their tm5 TMS solution. There is now a race for TMS providers to integrate the other key corporate treasury providers into their solution, so becoming a ‘one-stop shop’.

CTMfile take: In the API inter-connected world, the corporate treasury department is now able to put together the complete solution they require. They don’t have to wait. Also the returns from having dedicated IT staff in the corporate treasury department are higher than ever before as they can do so much more with so much less. How is your department going to take advantage of the API inter-connected age?

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