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Virtual accounts, part 1: Payments struggle with reality

Despite their benefits, virtual bank accounts have failed to gain traction with the world’s largest corporations.

Businessman holding modern virtual interface banking in hand with icon network connection, shopping and mobile payment online
ipopba/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche has embraced the use of virtual accounts. These sub-accounts, which are linked to one physical current account, fit with the company’s strategy of centralizing visibility of cash, switching to ‘on behalf’ collections and disconnecting local subsidiaries from banks. Indeed, around a quarter of its subsidiaries now have no bank account in their own name.

The company has created better transparency for on behalf collections as the virtual account number appears as a fixed value in the bank statement according to Stefan Windisch, senior cash manager treasury operations.

“Having a virtual account dedicated to a group subsidiary means we are sure that the subsidiary is the ultimate beneficiary of the funds received in the virtual account,” he adds.

Another head of treasury at a leading aircraft lessor acknowledges there are many advantages to

a virtual account solution, such as automated receivables reconciliation processes and higher invoice matching rates, as well as lower banking charges.

“Virtual accounts generally have a single global documentation source or point of contact as opposed to multiple contacts in different branches within the same bank,” he says.

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