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Digital disruption in treasury

Discover our series looking at technologies such as APIs and machine learning that are driving change and disruption for corporate treasurers.

Digital innovation

We are now at a time where digital innovation in treasury is no longer theoretical, but one that is fast showing practical implications on how systems and processes can be taken advantage of and efficiencies found.

Emerging technologies such as APIs, machine learning, and open banking are set to drive change and disruption for treasurers.

But how do some of these innovations actually work and how can they create the new working practices and efficiencies we’ll see become commonplace in the treasury department of the near future.

What does digital banking mean for treasurers?

We discuss what the many digital buzzwords actually mean for treasurers, and what treasurers themselves might be looking for with this new technology.

Martin Runow:

There's a lot of buzzwords flying around in digital at the moment. So, AI, internet of things, cloud computing, blockchain, distributed letter technology, and it does mean a bit of all of that.  That does have to do with digital banking.

But if I look at it a bit more broadly for corporate banking, what we would like to do is really take a look at how clients experience working with us across the whole range of products and services that we have out there with them, and really look at how to digitally enable that experience.  Then, that's broadly what we're looking at.

There's actually a lot going on, you know, in our corporate clients, businesses, industries, areas.  Both of us, in the sense of what's happening to our treasurers in our treasury and finance functions within their companies, as well as what's happening to the companies themselves.

They've been on their own digital journeys, and they're trying to react to things that are happening in the market.  It's a lot of change in the transaction banking markets, payments markets.

For example, real-time payments going, you know, really globalright now in Europe, across the U.S. We've had fossil payments here for a while, of course. There's open banking regimes that are starting to come and argue, be a bit more consumer focused. But still, there's a swap over effect into corporate, so the demand for corporate treasurers and people in finance is increasing. Right.

They're expected to be on top of these things, to have all the information, balances, and others available at their fingertip in real-time, have a real view and understanding of technology and how that gets deployed within their companies. It's quite an exciting and fascinating time for them. At the same time, it's actually a lot more demand for them to be really on top of their digital journeys.

What it means for us, I believe, is that we do need to look at product development really through our client's eyes. Meaning we need to bring clients in as we develop out our services and our products in a digitally enabled world, and really take into account, also, how clients want things to work, how we expect things to work. And the example I want to give is, look at us as consumers of, you know, digital services everywhere in the world around us. Right?

I expect to look at my phone's camera and it will unlock, right? Expect that certain things will just work, that's the experience that we have at home in our private lives. And then, we expect our corporate treasurers to log into some tool to look at something that looks not quite like the modern journey we're used to.

That's not acceptable, it's not going to be okay.  Right?  We have to adapt to these realities, and we are definitely on the way of getting there to make sure that we digitize these things and give clients a really complete, actually, digital experience.

Now, what that doesn't mean is that we're not going to be a personal bank anymore. Right? We love the personal relationship. We need it. All right. It just does mean that for the things the client - clients don't want to talk to a person. Just get stuff done. We, also, have to give them that experience.

How are APIs and real time connectivity creating change?

Application programming interfaces aren’t a new technology but their use in the finance sector is, and big opportunities await.

Andrew Cranwell:

So, API is an application program interface. And really these things are the magic glue that bind the internet together today. An API allows you to connect services across devices, systems, and applications.

So, a great example is someone down at Uber. So, Uber actually uses three APIs. It uses location, maps, and payments. So, location comes from your phone, so it always knows exactly where you are. The payments come through Braintree, so it has that focus moment when you step out of the car and the money just goes. Then, the maps come from Google. So, obviously, you always know where you are and where the driver is that's coming to pick you up.

APIs are everywhere. And you use them all over the place today, but you probably don't even realize it. So, whether it's posting a favorite picture to Instagram or buying an extra load of shopping off Amazon, it's actually APIs in the background that are making all of these services work.

So, APIs are used by developers. And developers are a brand-new type of customer for the bank to deal with. So, we have everybody from hobbyists through to scale players in the market. And they're using all sorts of services from payments through to loan quotes. And with developers, you have to get things right.

So, they're looking for a few key things. Ease of use, it's got to be quick to sign up and easy to use an API. They're looking for interesting services that help them drive their applications and their use. And so, you always have to put yourself back in their shoes about how they want to interact with the bank. And, of course, they expect some things at the bank, as well. So, they're expecting, you know, standard banking services and other things.

So, APIs are disruptive because they represent innovation and change. For the bank, we've actually had to change the way that we manage our products.  And APIs are products in themselves. So, you offer them much in the same way you used to as a current account or loan. And for companies and for developers, they're disruptive because they help them innovate in a new way.

So, imagine putting sort of Barclays' technology at the heart of your application. That's exactly what we can do with the power of APIs. So, whether it's visibly, such as with a loan quote or something on Money Super Market, we can see the end result of the API. It's your amount that you can borrow from the bank.

Through to invisibly, where you're processing payments in the background and just being a part of that flow of information. It really just unlocks change across the industry and helps bigger players like Barclays and others to actually disrupt themselves and make themselves more efficient and helps players operate in a new way where they can connect digitally and offer new services to their customers.

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