The introduction by HSBC of a service that allows corporate treasurers to authorize large block payments on mobile devices has seen a significant take up from its customer base, exceeding expectations since it was introduced just over one year ago.
HSBC, which has the world’s largest global corporate FX client base, says corporate treasurers have made $6 billion-worth of payments via mobile devices, such as the iPhone or BlackBerry, as well as checking their company’s account balances and statements.
Marcus Treacher, HSBC global head of e-commerce for payments and cash management, says the popularity of the mobile treasury management services reflects the increasing role technology is playing in companies of all sizes to run their finances.
“The treasurers themselves are becoming more mobile,” he says. “For them to be physically unchained, if you like, from the office and still be absolutely directly in control of the financial team is driving them to use mobile.”
Since the service was launched, one user recorded a single payment of $50 million from a corporate account using a mobile phone. HSBC says while that was the largest payment, it was one of many large transactions.
The free service is not a mobile app. Instead, it is accessed through hsbcnet.com, where a specialized screen appears on the phone directing corporate treasurers to the treasury management portal.
The mobile service is used by 6,000 of HSBC’s corporate treasurer clients out of the 65,000 business clients who have been approached by the bank to use the mobile product.
Within those 65,000 corporate clients, there are 400,000 corporate treasury managers and other company staff that HSBC says could use the product if they chose to, allowing them to collect money from internal accounts, make payments and perform other functions.
In addition to phones, the mobile treasury management service is gradually being rolled out now for use on iPads and other computing devices, where HSBC hopes to eventually implement new security tools such as facial recognition software and other biometric features.
This might just be the beginning of a process for a wider application of mobile technology not just for payments, but also FX transactions.
“If people are comfortable using this medium, they will be much more comfortable using it for many things,” says Treacher. “So there’s potential in the banking world for more activity to be on the mobile or hand-held device.”
HSBC says that the service does offer the corporate treasurer the ability to request an FX rate and execute an FX transaction, but the take up to date has been small, though Treacher says it is indicative of a growing trend, that will become more prevalent as clients become more comfortable about security and control.