The world’s best bank for payments and treasury 2022: Bank of America
Unbeatable data drives everything behind CashPro, and the platform drives payments and treasury at Bank of America in turn.
Euromoney has again named Bank of America as the world’s best bank for payments and treasury. The bank takes this award for a second consecutive year, testament to the investment and innovation that drives the business at this firm.
The franchise is built around the CashPro platform, which manages liquidity, payments, receivables, trade finance and reporting. The growth of the CashPro app over the last year has been remarkable. On March 25, 2022 – just before the end of the awards period – clients processed $5 billion of payments on the app in a single day.
“Prior to 2021, we had one $1 billion day on the CashPro app. In 2021, we had 179 $1 billion days, 45 $2 billion days and eight $3 billion days,” says Faiz Ahmad, head of global transaction services (GTS) at Bank of America. “We have ensured that virtually all of our critical capabilities can be accessed via the CashPro App platform. Already processing $380 billion annually, it is larger than some of the largest standalone technology payments peers and it sits inside GTS.”
Competition in this business is fierce, and this is now one of the most hotly contested categories in Euromoney's awards for excellence.
Bank of America’s scale and reach is proving a differentiator here for one simple reason, data. Its reach is impressive; it processes between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion of payments daily and is now the number-one issuer of US Visa and Mastercard commercial cards.
It has a global reach across 12 Asian markets and 21 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) countries, with an on-the-ground presence in Mexico and Brazil.
All this activity translates into a mine of information.
“We are focused on creating straight-through data,” says Ahmad. “There are 20 to 40 data fields on each payment, which all flow into our systems and have transformed treasury functions. Many treasury departments have moved from being a cost centre to driving revenues.”
Stephanie Wolf, head of global financial institutions, governments, business banking sales and GTS risk, explains how this has transformed the bank’s relationship with clients.
“We have a data trove that is second to none,” she says. “The more data you have, the smarter the AI [artificial intelligence] is: AI gets smarter through data. Ninety percent of treasury work is still done on spreadsheets because a company’s data scientists are often reserved for the profit-generating part of the firm. So we have to be the AI for the treasury function.”
Payments are now seamless end to end with Zelle, while smaller clients can now do everything on the CashPro app. A complex operation behind the scenes is disguised by a simple user experience.
“There is no sense of complacency, but we have such a massive ecosystem underneath CashPro,” says Ahmad. “That is difficult to build unless you have a wealth of client experience.”
The team is set up to avoid silos. Global head of product, Greg Kavanaugh, is based in the US, overseeing payments, receipts, trade and liquidity. Tom Durkin leads CashPro globally, while Matthew Davies and Fernando Iraola have regional responsibilities for Europe and Latin America and also co-lead corporate coverage.
Sue Caras and Ken Ullmann are co-heads of GTS global commercial banking, while Wolf leads both the US-based business banking team and the global financial institutions coverage.
The bank has made progress this year in breaking into new markets and driving efficiency across the client base. Key innovations include Recipient Select – launched with Zelle, PayPal, RTP, ACH, Check and Pay to Card – and demonstrate the importance of the bank’s proactive collaboration with fintechs in payments.
Innovation is embedded in the business; it doesn’t sit in a standalone lab
“Fintechs often need a bank to offer their services to clients,” says Wolf. “We need to work together with clients. It is a partnership.”
Another such partnership was behind Pay By Bank, launched in February this year, which allows customers of e-commerce companies, initially in the UK, to pay directly from their bank account. This takes place in real time, requiring no credit or debit card details.
“Retailers are asking for alternative payment methods, so we partnered with a fintech called Banked and within nine months we developed the Pay by Bank solution that leverages open banking,” explains Davies, head of global transaction services, EMEA and global co-head of corporate sales, GTS.
“It is positioned alongside the traditional payment methods as a bundled capability,” he continues. “The idea for this solution came from within the GTS organization and is a good example of how we innovate.
"Innovation is embedded in the business; it doesn’t sit in a standalone lab. In this way, we can quickly integrate the new capability into our broader solution set.”