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Cash management: Transaction banks grapple with the buoyancy of Asia

It is a business about volume and innovation, making Asia a prime target. Multinationals are investing to tap busy markets, while some of Asia’s leading corporates want to go global. Laurence Neville reports.

UNDERLYING TRANSACTION BANKS’ drive for Asian business is the resilience of much of the region – certainly China and India, which power the region’s economies – to the financial crisis. "Volume for trade-related traffic bottomed out in March 2009 and by the end of 2009 it was only 1% down on what had been record volume in 2008," notes Ian Johnston, chief executive of financial messaging cooperative Swift Asia-Pacific. "In 2010, we are expecting 14% growth, with trade and payments a major driver of that growth."

The nature of Asian business is changing as volumes increase. "Decoupling is a discredited idea, but Asia is becoming more self-sufficient," says Johnston. "That is reflected in a large increase in intra-Asian business. In the year to October, volumes globally have grown 4% while Asia has grown 18%."

Karen Fawcett, group head of transaction banking at Standard Chartered

"There is vast natural demand for this market"

Karen Fawcett, Standard Chartered

Karen Fawcett, group head of transaction banking at Standard Chartered, notes that the strength of domestic emerging market economies reinforced the growth of trade flows within and between Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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