Built for speed: The API-powered treasury

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) bring a new level of speed, control, versatility and visibility to the treasurer.

On a regular day, with a few taps on a mobile phone you can order a meal through food delivery services or book a taxi for an upcoming journey, all without the need for cash or a physical card for payment. In both scenarios, a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) works together seamlessly and invisibly to deliver a reliable and secure service, allowing you to go about your personal and professional lives with ease.

Corporate banking too, is on the cusp of becoming this efficient. Today it can be significantly easier and faster for you to meet your treasury needs through a level of access and automation that was unthinkable a mere few years ago. What then, can you expect?

Greater automation and autonomy

While treasury departments have lifted their level of automation over the last decade, a few functions remain manual. With most using multiple banks, reconciliation between various accounts is time-consuming, as there is little if any connectivity between the different entities. Furthermore, account and transaction information are extracted manually once a day, inhibiting timely oversight of the company’s cash positions throughout most of the working day.

Thankfully, APIs can resolve these types of issues and more. APIs provide a new level of connectivity between you and your bank, across multiple markets and regions, between head offices and local subsidiaries, as well as within your banking network.

“API-powered solutions like those we have developed here at Standard Chartered enable treasurers to access informational needs in real time, 24/7,” says Rene W. Keller, Chief Information Officer of Corporate, Commercial & Institutional Banking at Standard Chartered. “They also allow them to take advantage of the latest opportunities across markets quickly, conducting a wide range of transactions autonomously with reduced dependencies,” he adds.

In addition, APIs can provide a seamless connection between your company’s treasury management system, various services provided by your bank, and information from other providers, enabling automation and improved efficiencies for you.

Innovation through collaboration

Collaboration between the various entities within the banking ecosystem is strengthened with the use of APIs. These partnerships inspire possibilities that lead to the experimentation and execution of ideas.

We at Standard Chartered have a critical role to play in the co-creation process. We provide industry insights, data and technology, while developers and fintech players bring to the table niche services and specialist knowledge. Add to this, clients like you who provide vital feedback and help to improve the overall user experience. The result? A rich ecosystem of talent dedicated to solving challenges through easy-to-use solutions.

It is in this light that we launched aXess in 2019, a platform with over 100 APIs currently, offering developers access to our open-source code for banking products and APIs, apps and libraries. The proprietary architecture of aXess helps drive greater connectivity and collaboration between all actors – resulting in the co-creation of industry-leading solutions you can make use of.

Real-time oversight

If you are a corporate treasurer with operations across multiple countries and regions, you may find yourself facing a lack of visibility over your cash and liquidity positions. Information such as the amount of cash relative to expenses and other liabilities is typically only shared once a day. Plus, with operations in different time zones and involving multiple currencies, information from different markets can take some time to arrive at a regional or global treasury centre – hindering the monitoring of positions.

To meet this pressing need, we worked with a fintech partner to launch a new customised front-end which connects to our Straight2Bank NextGen banking platform via APIs. Critically, it also links to our liquidity management platform, which provides treasurers like you with timely access to your global balance positions, inter-company loan positions, reports and more, through engaging dashboards and analytics models.

“Such API-based solutions are welcomed by the industry,” says Michael Spiegel, Global Head of Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered. “Not only has the solution seen increased adoption, more importantly its self-service capabilities have vastly improved the user experience (of our clients) and delivered results especially for companies with regional and global operations.”

Faster payments

In the payments space, a similar information delay occurs between buyers and sellers of goods and services — whether online, in-person or over the phone, due to the need for payment validation by an independent organisation.

Buyers usually must wait a few days before their order is confirmed by the finance teams of sellers, or worse, that their payment has been rejected or that their order is now out of stock. For sellers, the matching and reconciliation process that is undertaken by their treasury departments is typically time-consuming, sometimes leading to customer complaints and refunds.

To bridge this gap, we created a pre-credit validation service developed in close collaboration with a technology partner. Using a suite of APIs, this service directly transfers payment from a buyer to the seller’s account without the need for intermediary steps for payment reconciliation. It works by integrating with the client’s API to automatically check for matching of payment against the invoice, enabling real-time processing of the transaction.

For sellers, this solution alleviates the matching and reconciliation process, saving both time and cost. It also improves the cash flow for sellers as funds can be utilised instantly. For buyers, the instant confirmation of payment provides greater certainty and a peace of mind.

Driving business growth

These are just some examples of what APIs can do and how API-based solutions by Standard Chartered can help advance, while simplifying, the banking experience for treasurers and beyond. Not only do APIs provide mission-critical information in real time 24/7, they enable you to act immediately and with greater control, versatility and visibility.

These underscore our commitment to co-develop solutions with other players within the banking technology ecosystem, including developers, fintech companies, clients and regulators. The collective effort not only advances capabilities for you, it also fosters a seamless and highly efficient banking experience that further facilitates the growth of your business.

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