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Industry roundup: 22 October 2020

HSBC adds cash flow forecasting to digital banking platform in the US

HSBC Bank USA has announced the availability of HSBC Cash Flow Forecasting, a fully-integrated forecasting solution that allows businesses to build a more accurate picture of their future finances and manage liquidity.

The cash flow forecasting solution is accessed via the bank’s digital banking platform, HSBCnet, providing clients with a single point of access for all their cash management needs. The tool is fully integrated - automatically loading data from a client’s accounts - and can also work cohesively with a client’s own systems. This allows details of pending invoices or future-dated events to be added automatically, reducing manual intervention and significantly cutting the time taken to prepare a forecast.

HSBC Cash Flow Forecasting produces cash forecasts covering a three-year horizon. The modelling and scenario testing capability allow corporate clients to create customised forecasts with ease. Detailed variance analysis highlights differences between forecasts and actual performance - meaning clients can spot cash surplus or deficits and further refine their forecasts accuracy.

Using the tool, the bank says that customers who spend weeks producing spreadsheet-based predictions by manually retrieving data from their internal and bank systems now have a more efficient, automated and accurate solution.

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, firms are realising that having accurate cash flow visibility is more important now than ever,” said Drew Douglas, head of Liquidity & Cash Management, US and Canada at HSBC. “Efficient cash flow forecasting is critical to effective liquidity management, allowing clients to better understand their future working capital and liquidity needs, to budget effectively, and to support efficient reporting.”


COVID-19's lasting impact to FX market structure revealed

Although day-to-day aspects of the foreign exchange market have largely returned to normal, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on market structure and functionality, according to a report from Greenwich Associates. The COVID-19 crisis rattled FX markets, interrupting market participants’ access not only to liquidity, but also to basic workflows that were upended by the sudden shift to working from home.

Among the many changes triggered by the crisis, the report highlights two important impacts. The first, a new appreciation for the value of relationships and high-quality sell-side service and support, and second, an increase in the use of algorithms to execute trades and the shopping of orders across liquidity pools through the use of API aggregators.

“On the surface these two developments seem contradictory,” said Ken Monahan, senior analyst for Greenwich Associates Market Structure and Technology and author of 'Ad Hoc Responses to COVID Shock Will Continue to Shape FX Market Structure'. “In reality, both can be true at the same time. The crisis demonstrated that, in extreme volatility, market participants need both relationships they can count on and effective alternative tools for sourcing liquidity and executing trades.”

Two-thirds of the FX market participants interviewed in a Greenwich Associates study said relationships became more important during the COVID-19 crisis that caused a sudden plunge in liquidity across the entire the FX ecosystem. The reliance on the support of human counterparties is illustrated by the fact that - in what is probably the most electrified market on earth - about 1 in 5 FX market participants increased their use of voice trading during the crisis.

Nearly a quarter of study participants increased their use of algos during the COVID crisis and an even bigger share say they plan to step up algo usage in the wake of the crisis. The increased use of algorithms could have a profound impact on how the FX market functions. 

“This shift creates a new kind of pressure on the venues,” added Monahan. “While they don’t have direct control over the liquidity provision on their platforms, they can reduce fees, change or introduce new protocols and enhance system performance. This is what has happened in the equity world.”


Unifiedpost Group and Google Cloud collaborate in document digitisation

European fintech Unifiedpost Group has announced a collaboration with Google Cloud to advance its document digitisation capabilities, leveraging Google Cloud’s Procurement DocAI.

Businesses seeking to digitise their financial value chain - from contract or order, to invoice, to payment, and financing - require trusted networks between diverse economic operators. Unifiedpost Group says it empowers such networks and streamlines complex business ecosystems, particularly within SME ecosystems. In practice, the fintech develops and manages platforms for document and transaction processing (e.g., invoices), electronic payments, identity and value-added services. 

The collaboration with Google Cloud allows Unifiedpost Group to integrate Procurement DocAI capabilities into its SaaS-platform offerings. By including this OCR-technology, the fintech hopes that data extraction from any document type will reduce costs and improve processing accuracy and time. The documents it can digitise range from invoices and receipts to contracts and car documents. OCR allows the software of Unifiedpost to convert these documents into structured data ready for further synchronisation with accounting systems and ERP systems.

Procurement DocAI offers support for over 200 languages and Google Cloud’s infrastructure allows Unifiedpost Group to meet all country specific requirements such as local document storage. 


Versapay and Solupay merge

Versapay Corporation has announced that it has completed a merger with payment services provider Solupay. The move is designed to strengthen its accounts receivable (AR) automation and integrated business-to-business (B2B) payments offerings. The combined company will operate under the Versapay name and under the leadership of Craig O’Neill, current CEO of Versapay. Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

Solupay enables suppliers and merchants to simplify payment acceptance, deliver click-to-pay invoices and automate receivables processes within cloud-based ERPs including NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, and Sage Intacct. With the addition of Solupay, Versapay says it has expanded its capabilities to provide best-in-class order-to-cash solutions that drive integrated payments, AR automation, and customer-centric AR for mid-market and enterprise organisations.

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