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Industry roundup: 1 October

FinLync and Standard Chartered partner to accelerate treasury adoption of the bank’s APIs

FinLync and Standard Chartered have announced their partnership to enable corporate treasury and finance teams to rapidly connect to the bank’s application programming interface (API) offerings, via the fintech. The two firms say this will allow corporates to make decisions faster, more frequently and based on more-precise information, all of which provide an edge over their competition without the substantial time and financial investments typically required in such integration projects.

Through the partnership, the bank says it is able to support its clients in making the shift to real-time treasury and significantly increasing working capital efficiency, as well as differentiate itself from banks limited to legacy connectivity, all while offloading IT burdens.

"Beyond the building of APIs, we recognise the need to take the next step in ensuring that corporates can access these solutions in a fast, secure and easy-to-use manner, to fully deliver the benefits of this seamless connection,” said Philip Panaino, global head of Cash Management at Standard Chartered. "We are excited to work with FinLync, the leading authority in bank API connectivity, and believe this partnership will help our clients rapidly unlock more value from the market-leading APIs we develop for the corporate finance industry."

"In response to market need, many financial institutions are actively building bank APIs today that can drive efficiencies into a myriad of functions for corporates," added Phillip Klein, co-founder and CEO of FinLync. "In order to get value from bank APIs, companies must connect them to their end solution, usually an ERP. Building these connections from scratch is a lengthy and costly process that can take months or years for just a single API. FinLync turns this previously complex connectivity challenge into a simple plug-and-play process. You get rid of bank files and middleware but get all the connections you need, plus real-time data and expanded data points, without having to manage the connectivity."

Standard Chartered has developed a number of business-critical APIs, available via its Open Banking platform, aXess, including Transactions, Payment Initiation, Payment Status and Balances. FinLync’s technology can directly embed account data, via bank APIs, into any clients’ ERP platform, particularly for SAP, providing real-time visibility into account data and cash positions. 


Multi-CBDC prototype shows potential for reducing costs and speeding up cross-border payments

A prototype of multiple Central Bank Digital Currencies (mCBDCs) developed by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub and four central banks demonstrated the potential of using digital currencies and distributed ledger technology (DLT) for delivering real-time, cheaper and safer cross-border payments and settlements.

The mBridge project is a cooperation between the BIS Innovation Hub Hong Kong Centre, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority; the Bank of Thailand; the Digital Currency Institute of the People's Bank of China; and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

The common prototype platform for mCBDC settlements was able to complete international transfers and foreign exchange operations in seconds, as opposed to the several days normally required for any transaction to be completed using the existing network of commercial banks and operate in a 24/7 basis. The cost of such operations to users can also be reduced by up to half, according to the project's report.

"The prototype is part of our efforts to design CBDC technology," commented Benoît Cœuré, head of the BIS Innovation Hub. "The project includes experimenting with use cases and trials, balanced with analysis of governance, policy and legal considerations with a focus on cross-border use."

The BIS Innovation Hub is currently working with ten central banks in different projects that investigate different uses of CBDCs (e.g. retail and wholesale), processes and technologies.


EIU report for Temenos finds people, not products, are the future of banking 

A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) published by Temenos has revealed that four in five bankers (81%) believe that financial institutions will seek to differentiate themselves on customer experience rather than on their products and services in the next four years. The report underscores the importance of customer experience, as changes to customer banking behaviour triggered by the pandemic create long-term structural changes. 

The report, titled 'Demanding More', is based on a recent global survey of 305 senior banking executives conducted by the EIU. The report highlights how financial institutions have been forced to adapt to the sudden movement of customers managing their finances online, which has proved beneficial to digital-only banks. As an example, as of January 2021, 14 million British citizens (27% of UK adults) had a digital-only bank account, representing a 16% growth from January 2020 and an increase of three times compared to January 2019. Almost three in four (71%) global respondents expect cash to represent less than 5% of all retail transactions globally by 2025. 

The shift towards online banking has highlighted the evolution of how financial institutions manage relationships and the demise of the traditional branch. Global banking executives’ top strategic priorities are all customer-focused. Improving customer experience and engagement, including personalisation and intimacy, was viewed as the top strategic priority by 30%. 

The report further reveals that consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly demanding that companies follow responsible business practices. This is leading to business engagement with issues that are important to consumers, such as combating climate change and promoting diversity and financial inclusion.  Additionally, banking executives are prioritising the financial empowerment of their customers. Findings show that around one in three financial institutions are considering growing microfinance for entrepreneurs (34%), deposits for unbanked populations (33%) and responsible lending to under-banked populations (32%) in the next one to three years.


AFP 2021 Executive Institute to focus on skills for the modern-day leader

As companies continue to navigate through times of uncertainty, executives need to keep their skills sharp to lead at the best of their ability. The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) says that its 2021 Executive Institute, sponsored by PNC Bank, is designed to help senior-level financial professionals find a renewed sense of purpose and learn brand-new ideas that might transform their organisations. This year’s edition is part of AFP 2021, an integrated, in-person and virtual event taking place 7-10 November in Washington, DC.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA), opens the Executive Institute on Monday, 8 November, with a keynote session on how successful leaders must develop a game plan that accounts for the politics and personalities of everyone involved. Smith will share insider stories drawn from his current leadership role and previous life as a homicide prosecutor that exemplify the importance of strategic planning and contextual decision-making.

On Tuesday, 9 November, keynote speaker Sheila Heen, author, co-founder of Triad Consulting Group, and Harvard Law School Professor, will discuss the ability to manage difficult conversations to determine a leader’s success. Heen provides a framework to understand the structure of tough conversations, and tools for approaching a challenging situation when usual problem-solving methods are no longer working.

"As companies begin to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, treasury and finance executives must lead the way to meet current and future challenges," said Jim Kaitz, president and CEO of AFP. "Even at the executive level, leaders must make time to continue learning and developing their skills, and this year’s Executive Institute will provide the networking opportunities and resources to help them do that."

"With businesses continuing to experience considerable disruption and change, it’s critical that senior executives take time for themselves to learn and share best practices to keep their teams engaged and performing," added Emma Loftus, executive vice president and head of PNC Treasury Management. "This year’s AFP Executive Institute will offer ideas, resources and networking opportunities to help these leaders transform their companies, as they grapple with changing customer, employee and shareholder expectations."

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