Why corporates should care about digitalisation

22-11-16 9:23 | Digital banking | The Digital Hub

You know, not so very long ago, making any kind of transaction – from paying invoices to internal account transfers or international payments – meant faxes, phone calls or face-to-face interactions. Then came the advent of online corporate banking and system integration that enabled payments to be set up from bank web portals or even directly from corporate systems. 

That was the start. Soon we will see corporate payments becoming fully automated and self-serviced. They will happen in real time and they will be seamless; with the same information and services available across all channels, including mobile, web and face-to-face.

Corporates still focused on the basics  

When it comes to our corporate treasury customers, their main concern remains visibility and control over liquidity and risk. Centralisation is still widely recognised as both a current and future trend. Digitalisation has facilitated increased centralisation and allowed companies to more easily establish payment and collection factories and to implement payables and receivables on-behalf-of structures. Additionally, the ability of companies to collect, crunch and extract data is rapidly developing. The bottom line, however, is that the digital revolution in corporate banking only matters when it delivers new and more efficient ways of doing things. 

The record is skipping… 

At a large industry event recently, it struck me while listening to the keynote speeches and the discussions at the dynamic smaller stage sessions that the message – if I can use such an analogue metaphor – was like a skipping record. The same story has been playing for a while now: collaboration is key – but banks are being held back by regulations, their complex and outdated IT infrastructure and, importantly, by their less than agile culture.  

… but we’ve gone digital

When I hear this story for maybe the fifth time in a single day, I actually feel quite good. We in Nordea are already moving forward by replacing old back-end systems as part of our Simplification program. This will prepare us for faster integration of new third party solutions, reduce time to market for new technologies and get us ready to compete with new agile entrants. Our culture is also transforming – something visible through the blooming of initiatives such as Innovation Labs, FinTech Roundtables and Accelerator programmes, as well as our exploration of Blockchain and distributed ledger technology. And the whole payment landscape is a core focus for us and we’re a big part of shaping the new ecosystem of payments, both at Nordea and in our industry.

The Payment Strategy moves us beyond the now

The next stage will be introduced by PSD2 (the revised Payment Services Directive) and the new era of Open banking/Open APIs. This will present opportunities to develop and offer new multi-banking based, integrated digital financial services for consumers, merchants/retailers and corporates. We are working to co-create these by directly involving our customers in the concept and development phases so we can respond accurately to their fundamental needs, keep them satisfied and hopefully exceed their expectations. 

It is certainly a lot more exciting than faxes and phone calls – and I am confident Nordea will deliver a lot for our corporate customers enabling them to be successful in their own business!

/Erik Zingmark, Co-Head of Transaction Banking at Nordea. Follow me on Twitter: @erikzingmark