It is probably fair to say that the average corporate treasurer
is unlikely to be a voracious Twitter user or Facebook addict.
However, the emergence of the more
advanced, interactive online interfaces usually covered
under the blanket Web 2.0 term, will not have passed them by.
The banking world, however, has not been as quick to
respond to advances in technology, particularly when it comes
to their transaction services operations.
As a result, many treasury portals were, and still are,
constructed with the aim of cramming as many tools as possible
onto desktop real estate in a one-size-fits-all manner, with
little regard for usability.
The responsive, user-friendly experiences offered by
companies such as Amazon or Google, however, are beginning to
shape user expectations and lead some transaction banking
platform users to question why the tools they use in their
business lives feel so out of date by comparison.
The whole consumer experience is driving what our
customers expect to happen in their corporate lives, says
Milton Santiago, portal and treasury e-commerce executive, Bank
of America Merrill Lynch (BAML).
As a result, many banks, including BAML, have embarked on
platform overhauls, in part
inspired by consumer technology.
JPMorgan, for example, is in the middle of a complete
rebuild and rethink of its JPMorgan Access cash management
platform, and, says Nick Donohue, managing director of JPMorgan
corporate and investment bank, non-financial firms had a
substantial influence on its user interface.
A lot of this goes back to the cues weve taken
from the consumer experience, he says. When a
consumer buys a product from Apple or through Amazon, there are
certain capabilities offered during the client
Meanwhile, at Citi, David Rose, product manager, EMEA for
the banks CitiDirect platform, says: Over the
coming years, we will be making the application a lot easier to
navigate by focusing on usability rather than just
So far, this includes a new interface for the desktop
version, which bases behaviour around user habits, including
making frequently used widgets and functions available on sign
in, hiding those which are not employed on a daily basis and
allowing the customer to perform their most commonly completed
tasks with as few clicks as possible.
Transaction banking technology provider Fundtech is
deploying similar technology, says Arun Ramamoorthy,
vice-president, product management, cash management.
Retailers like Best Buy use your buying patterns to
provide you with new suggestions, he says.
Weve taken this concept but we are looking at the
users behaviour over a period of time to prompt them on
to the next steps.
Christine Barry, research director for wholesale banking
with Aite Group, who has recently spoken with a number of banks
about the development of their transaction platforms, sees
things progressing even further.
When I ask banks where they see these portals going,
the ultimate goal is to transform them from a place where
customers just perform transactions and make them into more of
a relationship between the bank and the customer, she
This, says JPMorgans Donohue, is something the bank is
concentrating on. Many of our customers are used to
interacting through Facebook, Twitter and so on, he
We see these kinds of features as probably being a bit
ahead of the curve in terms of clients expectations in
the wholesale banking space, but still very much part of the
experience that our clients have online as consumers.
The result was the development of what Donohue describes as
the access community. So far, the focus has been
largely on providing education and support for customers
seeking to access the platform, such as user guides, videos and
However, later this year, JPMorgan plans to introduce the
ability to like content in a similar manner to
Facebook, flagging the most useful to the community and helping
the bank map usage patterns.
He adds that some of the banks bigger clients have
even expressed an interest in contributing some of their own
content to the platform to develop a more tailored community
None of this will be easy, of course. Regulatory
considerations, especially around interactive content and the
like, will always be of far greater concern to business users
Meanwhile, platform upgrades of any sort are inherently
risky and banks are still some way from replicating
cutting-edge retail sites, says Aites Barry.
However, she adds, moving in the right direction will soon
be a necessity for survival. A lot of the banks are
saying its about customer retention its
really something which is required to remain competitive,