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Industry roundup: 9 December

Citi expands cross-currency sweeps

Citi is expanding its cross-currency sweeps cash management solution across several European markets. The solution, Citi Cross-Currency Sweeps, aims to help treasurers and finance teams efficiently manage cash positions across multiple accounts, countries, and currencies, using one streamlined and automated solution.

Leveraging Citi’s global cash concentration network and foreign exchange (FX) capabilities, it helps companies manage FX and cash positions and immediately convert available liquidity into the currency of their choice.

The solution is rolling out in 14 more countries across Europe including Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and Austria. 

“Our corporate clients are increasingly moving through a digital transformation journey for their treasury and FX risk management,” says Sam Hewson, Global Head of eFX Solutions and EMEA Head of Corporate Sales. “As technology has evolved, we are helping our clients to automate processes, using efficient, integrated and seamless strategies to provide transparent liquidity and FX activities.
  
“Citi Cross-Currency Sweeps brings together the power of our liquidity and FX technologies to help our clients automate their day-to-day activities, so that they can stay focused on creating smart treasuries of the future, today.”

Citi adds that the tool addresses a wide range of cash management needs, making it easier for companies to fund accounts when and where balances are needed and to achieve optimised liquidity across their global banking structure. By enabling the automation of FX dealings in a variety of major and exotic currency pairs, treasurers can move funds seamlessly across the Citi network. Accounts in local currencies do not need to be pre-funded and companies can seek to realise same-day settlement of funds in the desired currency, on an intraday basis. 

“Citi Cross-Currency Sweeps provides significant potential to enhance the way treasurers manage liquidity,” says Stephen Randall, Global Head of Liquidity Management Services, Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions. “Managing liquidity in multiple currencies is often a manual process, with significant time taken up by forecasting, FX management and the movement of cash between accounts. Process inefficiencies can lead to excess cash buffers and operational challenges. This solution automates and streamlines multiple steps into one, helping clients optimise both efficiency and liquidity.” 

Bangladesh garment factories join PrimaDollar's ESG scheme*

PrimaDollar, the UK-based global trade finance and data collection platform has signed agreements with four factory groups in Bangladesh, which have agreed to pilot the new Factory Social Score (FSS) system. The four groups – Zoom Sweaters, Alib Composite, Bengal Knittex and Climax Garb – collectively employ over 2,000 workers.

The FSS system is a global solution to monitor the social and governance performance of workplaces, part of the worldwide initiative to improve ESG compliance. It has been designed in Bangladesh and London. The Bangladeshi factories are joining an international pilot project that includes suppliers in India, Pakistan and Turkey. The pilot is being driven by PrimaDollar, which opened a Dhaka office in 2015, with the support of several major international brands and major importers.

The FSS presents the social and governance credentials of a workplace based upon information provided directly by its workers, from machinists to secretaries. “This is a new class of data that is called Real-time ESG data – powering a new wave of initiatives to deliver environmental, social, and governance change across world markets,” says the company.

Information is collected via an app that workers, with management’s support, install on their mobile phones. It is a continuous monitoring system that surveys workers’ views across seven important social categories, including pay, conditions, safety and treatment. Worker responses are anonymous. The responses are used in real-time, together with other information, to create the FSS, which then forms part of the automated flow of data supporting every shipment that the factory makes.

FSSs are increasingly being required by large buyers and their financiers to manage their legal, regulatory and brand responsibilities in home markets, especially with respect to the way that workers are being treated in their supply chains. This is a major part of the global initiatives to address issues with ESG. This is especially timely following the recent COP26 climate summit and wider issues around how the world moves forward towards a healthier future – a forum in which Bangladesh is playing a substantial role.

Tim Nicolle, Group CEO of PrimaDollar, comments: “We have carefully designed the worker app and factory social score system so that it is acceptable and useful for factory owners, whilst delivering important transparency to international buyers. Bangladesh is leading the way already with its legislation and regulation of the garment industry – and now our worker app can showcase the results to the world.”

Munawar Uddin, Country Manager of the PrimaDollar Liaison office in Banani, Dhaka, adds: “We have worked hard with our London office and our large technology team in order to design, refine and deliver this app. Perhaps this will become one of the biggest contributions to maintaining and even improving worker conditions around the world – and I am really proud that Bangladesh is leading the way.”

* Read more in 'Surprising lessons from the ESG frontline', published 1 December

China ‘begins second phase of cross-border digital yuan’

China and Hong Kong have begun the second phase of trialling the cross-border digital yuan (CNY), with Hong Kong’s banks and merchants testing the use of China’s central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) reports Shanghai Securities News.

The report quotes Mu Changchun, director of the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), who spoke at the Hong Kong International Financial Center Status and Prospects Seminar. He said that the two have successfully carried out the first phase of technical testing of topping up, transferring, and paying through digital yuan wallets in collaboration with Hong Kong banks and merchants.

In the second phase, they will attempt to link the digital currency system and the Faster Payment System (FPS), an interbank digital payment system in Hong Kong.

“In the future, when [China] mainland tourists use the digital yuan to shop in Hong Kong, the foreign currency exchange will be completed between two wallets, and local merchants will receive money in Hong Kong dollars, so there will be no currency substitution,” said Changchun.

He also referred to mBridge, a multilateral project overseen by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) to bridge CBDCs between China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. Changchun said that Hong Kong’s status as a major international finance centre could help expand mBridge’s participant countries.

Although there have been small-scale launches, such as Bermuda’s “Sand Dollar” the digital yuan is likely to be the first CBDC rolled out by a major global power. Domestic pilots have been well under way for over a year but are mostly focused on small retail transactions. A major launch is expected when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics 2022 in February.

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