HSBC: CFOs warming up to mobile banking
According to HSBC, treasurers and chief financial officers are becoming more enthusiastic about the presence of mobile technology in their work environments, and are starting to manage transfers and payments via smartphones and tablets, finally shunning archaic methods such as banker’s drafts and cheques. HSBC claims corporate customers have used its mobile corporate banking platform, HSBCnet Mobile, to make $50 billion in payments.
Ever since mobile banking apps first hit the scene, banks have, for the most part, focused their mobile solutions on retail banking, and some of the apps are fairly intuitive, resulting in a more streamlined customer experience. In some cases, a customer only needs the recipient’s mobile number to transfer funds to a personal bank account.
Interestingly, it’s common people on the street who are the most adaptable and tech savvy, not the corporate execs. While the Average Joe thinks nothing of shopping, booking tickets, ordering food or transferring funds with his smartphone, the increase of business to business (B2B) mobile transactions has been dismally slow, as managers and self proclaimed “business leaders” continue to be averse to change and suspicious of cutting edge technologies. For example, only 12% of the world’s HSBCnet customers are actually active users of the app. Compare this to typical consumers in the UK, where it’s estimated that 34% of UK adults regularly use mobile banking technology.
HSBC sees potential for growth in B2B mobile transactions, with the company’s Regional Head of Global Payments and Cash Management, Kee Joo Wong, commenting, “The world is on the brink of a new era in mobile payments which will revolutionize the way businesses operate. Since the launch of the HSBCnet Mobile app we’ve seen a marked increase in the use of smartphones and tablets by our corporate customers. At the current rate of growth, we expect to reach $100 billion in global payments in the next 18 months.”
But the increasing use of mobile technology among consumers is forcing a growing number of corporates to change their ways. Aside from the obvious customer convenience factor, mobile banking can bring about innovative ways of conducting business, while also producing a huge amount of valuable data regarding company operations.
HSBC’s Group General Manager and Global Head of Payments and Cash Management, Diane S. Reyes, added, “Mobile payments can improve the financial health of a business. Being paid faster improves a company’s liquidity and cash-flow by extending their ability to pay their own creditors faster. Improving cash-flow enables opportunities to improve credit ratings, improve credit terms and elevate a company’s reputation, all of which enable growth. Digitising payments also enhances visibility over the workings of a business. More comprehensive, accurate payment information can be captured and retained. Finance Directors can, at a glance, better gauge the financial position of their subsidiaries, trading partners and contractors, enabling them to make more informed buying or credit decisions. In the mobile world, if you are a creative player and you can adapt quickly you will thrive, gaining at the expense of rivals who are slower to embrace mobile. Mobile for business is both an enabler and a powerful force for change.”
If widely adopted, B2B mobile transactions could greatly impact international trade. Doing business with overseas suppliers and buyers is often perceived as a painfully difficult task as levels of professionalism and transparency vary- or in some cases are simply nonexistent- while the mere processing of payments in foreign markets can be a nightmare all by itself. For instance, consider the horribly inefficient posting of a cheque- what should be a simple task becomes complicated by multiple bureaucratic and unnecessary steps; while, on the other hand, a mobile transaction between two parties can ensure immediate payment by eliminating such hurdles.
The GSMA’s report, State of the Industry 2014, indicates that emerging markets are transitioning from cash to mobile transactions, with 3.6 billion individual mobile subscribers globally and 103 million active mobile money accounts.