Industry roundup: 1 October 2020
by Ben Poole
ACT and Deutsche Bank release guide for treasurers
The Association for Corporate Treasurers (ACT), in partnership with Deutsche Bank, has announced the release of “The Group Treasurer: An ACT guide to the first 100 days”, which provides insights on the role of the treasury function - serving as an in-depth guide to those moving into senior treasury roles for the first time, as well as a refresher on the latest developments for treasury professionals.
Treasury departments are often staffed by people who move across from other finance disciplines and, for them, navigating their first 100 days - with a host of new concepts and the need to quickly get up to speed - can be a challenge.
The Guide is designed to serve as a compendium of need-to-know treasury information - starting with the basics, including the role of treasury, how departments are set up and what you need to know about treasury policy, before moving on to a series of deep dives into the critical features of life in treasury, including all you need to know about cash and liquidity management, the innovative technologies that are driving change, as well whether an in-house bank is right for you. Scattered throughout the Guide are insights from treasury professionals across a wide range of industries and geographies - providing best practice advice for gaining maximum benefit from your time in treasury.
“We have looked to create a guide that goes back to basics - and the ACT seemed the perfect partner for this” said Ole Matthiessen, global head of Cash Management at Deutsche Bank. “While the ACT can provide treasury professionals with training and qualifications necessary for a successful career, Deutsche Bank, in its role as a trusted advisor, can provide up-to-date insight on the options available for treasurers in the market.”
The Guide is also a reaction to the sweeping changes seen in treasury over the past few years. With new processes and technologies moving centre stage, it seeks to provide treasury professionals with a concise “refresh” of the latest developments - particularly for perennial challenges, such as the availability of liquidity. The Guide is available from the ACT website.
SIA launches digital trade platform
SIA, a payment services and infrastructure firm controlled by CDP Equity, has launched a platform that it says allows banks to fully digitise trade finance processes, making it easier and faster for corporates and SMEs operating in markets around the world to manage documentary credit dossiers.
With the digital trade finance solution designed and implemented by SIA, banks can support the internationalisation process of companies and take advantage of new business opportunities with foreign counterparts. The vendor says that this platform allows banks to simplify back-office operations and the internal functions of global transaction banking internal functions through the digital and sustainable processing of dossiers.
Further benefits promised relate to the ease of integration with banks’ information systems, the reduction of execution times and greater operating efficiency thanks to digitisation of the documentary credit dossier, which can be processed by the various central and peripheral competence centres - even remotely - in a shared context among all the actors involved.
A possible evolution for the platform that SIA mentioned in its press release includes the use of artificial intelligence applications, both to support the processing phases of the dossier, such as in the reconciliation of documents or during compliance checks, and for business intelligence activities.
Banca Popolare di Sondrio actively participated in the development of SIA's solution by providing the expertise of its internal structures from the very beginning of the project. Through the platform, the bank has digitised the entire trade finance process. The project particularly focussed on the management of letters of credit, from the pre-contractual phase to the settlement phase, making it possible to move to a completely electronic documentary credit dossier.
American Express and Amazon Business launch co-branded credit cards in the UK
American Express has announced the launch of the Amazon Business American Express card and the Amazon Business Prime American Express card for businesses in the UK. The cards offer rewards and payment flexibility designed to help businesses better manage their cash flow and gain greater insight into their spending.
The cards are designed to provide an enhanced check-out experience on Amazon Business UK and Amazon.co.uk that gives cardmembers the option to earn reward points or select a deferred payment term for each transaction, enabling them to make the best payment choice for their finances. Reward points can be earned anywhere American Express Cards are accepted and redeemed toward future Amazon purchases or applied to the balance of their monthly card statement. This new card programme in the UK has been developed as part of the on-going relationship between American Express and Amazon which includes a co-branded programme in the US and a global Card acceptance relationship.
This launch comes at a time when 63% of British small businesses say cash flow issues have led them to delay purchasing goods and services they need to run their business, according to research from American Express and YouGov. Nearly a quarter (23%) of the survey participants said they have put off ‘bigger ticket’ purchases over the last six months until they have funds available, and 38% of them are only buying the ‘essentials’ they need to keep their business operating.
MineralTree raises US$50m funding and makes acquisitions
MineralTree, an accounts payable (AP) and payments automation solution provider, has announced that it has closed a US$50m Series D investment round with participation from existing investors Great Hill Partners, .406 Ventures, and Eight Roads Ventures. In addition, MineralTree has acquired two companies in the AP automation and B2B payables space, Inspyrus and Regal Software, to further expand its market position in providing AP and payment automation to middle market companies.
The investment round and acquisitions come at a time when MineralTree says it is seeing increasing demand for its solutions as businesses of all sizes are becoming focused on addressing both pandemic-related work-from-home mandates and rising costs associated with manually processing invoices and B2B payments. US$27 trillion dollars in B2B payments are made in North America every year and businesses spend an estimated US$510bn on direct and indirect manual AP costs making those payments. By automating AP, the firm claims businesses can save as much as 80% of these costs and allow their AP process to function seamlessly while working fully remote.
Today’s additional funding and strategic company acquisitions equip MineralTree with expanded product capabilities, partnerships, and scale to serve the needs of a much larger portion of the middle market and up into the enterprise market. Additionally, the funding and acquisitions will bolster capabilities available to existing MineralTree customers and bank partners.
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