Blockchain Use Cases for Corporate Banking

Blockchain Use Cases for Corporate Banking

Corporate banking has long been a relationship-based business, with large global banks having the distinct advantage of being able to provide clients with a comprehensive set of financial services delivered through integrated solutions. Distributed ledger technology, often referred to as blockchain, threatens to disrupt the sector with its potential to improve visibility, lessen friction, automate reconciliation, and shorten cycle times. In particular, corporate banking use cases focusing on traditional trade finance, supply chain finance, cross-border payments, and digital identify management have attracted significant attention and investment.

Traditional Trade Finance: Largely paper-based with extended cycle times, DLT could eliminate inefficiencies arising from connecting disparate stakeholders, risk of documentary fraud, limited transaction visibility, and extended reconciliation timeframes. DLT could finally provide the momentum needed to fully digitize trade documents and move toward an end-to-end digital process.

Supply Chain Finance: SCF is commonly applied to open account trade and is triggered by supply chain events. Similarly to traditional trade finance, the pain points in SCF arise from a lack of transparency across the entire supply chain, both physical and financial. DLT has the potential to be a key enabler for a transparent, global supply chain with stringent tracking of goods and documents throughout their lifecycle.

Cross Border Payments: The traditional cross-border payment process often involves a multi-hop, multi-day process with transaction fees charged at each stage. There are potentially several intermediaries involved in a cross-border payment, creating a lack of transparency, predictability and efficiency. DLT offers an opportunity to eliminate intermediaries, lowering transaction costs and improving liquidity.

Cross Border Payment Flows

KYC/Digital Identity Management: Managing and complying with Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations across disparate geographies remains a complex, inefficient process for both banks and their corporate banking customers. For corporate banking, the DLT opportunity is to centralize digital identity information in a standardized, accessible format including the ability to digitize, store and secure customer identity documentation for sharing across entities.

Both banks and Fintech firms alike are experimenting with DLT solutions for various corporate banking uses cases. In what seems like unprecedented collaboration between financial institutions and technology providers, consortias are working on accelerating the development and adoption of DLT by creating financial grade ledgers and exploring opportunities for commercial applications.

The maturity cycle for the various use cases depends on a number of factors, not the least of which are financial institution requirements for interoperability, confidentiality, a regulatory and legal framework, and optionality. We outline both capital markets and corporate banking uses in more detail in the Celent report, Beyond the Buzz: Exploring Distributed Ledger Technology Use Cases in Capital Markets and Corporate Banking. In addition to key use cases, the report discusses the key needs of financial institutions driving DLT architectural and organization choices, the current state of play, and the path forward for DLT in capital markets and corporate banking.

The future of supply chain finance platforms

The future of supply chain finance platforms
Corporations are asking for more and more capital allocation. The numbers easily reach the Billion Euro/ Dollar sphere, and no single bank has the appetite to take on such a risk alone. The likely future model is one of a syndicated marketplace based on a technology platform, into which financial institutions, private capital funding, insurers, and logistic service providers will plug to provide collaborative supply chain finance services. We foresee a number of such platforms to appear in the next 2 to 3 years, branded by very large banks. Such banks will play the leading role (e.g., decide services, pricing, risk appetite), representing the main reference point to smaller FIs. Bottom line for banks Those who want to play the game must decide, today, which experienced solution providers to partner with. It’s most unlikely this game can be played alone (i.e., build and run the platform). Bottom line for corporations The perspective of a “one-stop” shop for open accounting and trade-related services is taking shape. Instead of passively “sit and wait”, we recommend decision makers to proactively check the plans of their major reference banks and establish programs to influence the results at their benefit. SEPA has shown that corporations must take an active role in, apparently, bank-only related matters. *** This post was mentioned as one of the favorite banking technology-related blog posts in Bank Systems & Technology’s Honor Roll: This Week’s Top Banking Blogs (Jan. 10-16). ***

SCF is dead. Long live GTS

SCF is dead. Long live GTS

Two years ago at SIBOS most of my interactions were around the topic of what was SCF (Supply Chain Finance). Banks were truly interested to know more about it.

Last year, at SIBOS in Vienna, the conversation was on what banks had ready (or almost so) to go to market with their SCF products and services. The questions were about pricing and what technology was best.

This year, at SIBOS Hong Kong, SCF was “missing in action”.

Apparently the term is not so “catchy” any longer. Major cause, in my opinion, is because SCF has been always confused with Supplier Finance (i.e., invoice-centric, post-shipment, payables financing). This has relegated the entire area to a subset of Trade Finance, at the very best at the same level as LC’s (letters of credit).

When I was almost there to surrender to frustration (SCF is one of my preferred areas of coverage – read my reports Supply Chain Management: A Source of Corporate Liquidity and Business Models for Supply Chain Finance Services) to my rescue came the panel with the heads of Global Transaction Services (GTS) from Citi, HSBC, BofA, Deutsche Bank.

Well, what they were taking about as the “next big thing” was, guess what?, Supply Chain Finance services. They just used a different tag: GTS.

This is not to say that GTS is a new invention. What is new, I feel, is that the services under the GTS “umbrella” (cash, trade finance, payments, FX) will be ever more offered in bundle, to cover the financial supply chain needs of corporate clients.

Bottom line for banks

  1. SCF is not (only) supplier finance
  2. GTS is the name of the game
  3. Internal organization, knowledge of business processes, and technology investments are the pillars

Bottom line for corporations

Start comparing banking offers under the light of their ability to cover the larger spectrum of the procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes

Corporate Banking in Asia is Heating Up

Corporate Banking in Asia is Heating Up
The press seems to focus a lot of its coverage on competition for retail banking business in Asia, but from where I sit it looks as though the corporate banking side is at least as hot, if not more so. One reason is that retail products and services are already fairly well developed in the region, leaving much of the action on the retail side to the marketing and branding of increasingly commoditized offerings. Corporate banking services, on the other hand, are still developing. There is a lot of room for improvement in the way banks in Asia are packaging and delivering their corporate banking services. This is particularly true for transaction banking services, including cash management, treasury, trade finance and supply chain management products and services. The large global banks have been investing heavily in developing comprehensive suites of services, often on a worldwide basis; many banks in Asia are now starting to see the value in developing a full range of transaction banking services for their corporate customers. I was recently invited to speak at an event in Hanoi, Vietnam for Asian banks organized by Citi, where this trend was readily observable. The venue was packed with managers from banks throughout Asia, large and small. They came to see what Citi had to offer in the way of web-based delivery, global payments solutions, trade finance and supply chain finance services, etc etc, and to think about how to offer these services to their corporate clients. Many banks in the region are likely to use the white labeled services of global banks such as Citi, ABN AMRO or HSBC, to name a few. Banks will be faced with choices in what mix of services, both outsourced and home grown, to offer in their particular market. I was struck by the number of banks I spoke with at the conference that were feeling challenged in developing their strategies for corporate banking services. Celent has followed developments and strategies in transaction banking for some years, and is now covering the market from the corporate side as well with our new corporate treasury research service. I look forward to working more closely with banks in Asia as they consider their options in this rapidly developing area.