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Transaction services: Corporate treasurers need a plan B

Technology outages are more frequent than they should be, while bank retrenchment has some wondering if their provider will be around much longer. Contingency is the new buzzword for treasurers


Corporate treasurers are faced with a double headache in their banking relationships. Expectations about the speed and efficiency of electronic payments might be rising, but legacy banking platforms and a lack of technology investment are leading to frequent failures. And now treasurers also have to consider if their banking partners will cut back transaction services in some geographies or even leave the business altogether. 

In both cases corporates need the reassurance of a contingency – they are searching for a plan B.

As banks place more emphasis on digital payments, the risks surrounding new technology become more apparent. Payments failures caused by technology problems are surprisingly frequent. In 2015 there were outages for many banks: impacting online payments for National Australia Bank; leaving ABN Amro struggling to process payment traffic; and HSBC experiencing a Bacs outage at the start of a bank holiday weekend. 

Banking regulators require there to be back-up systems in place to complete payments, but they do not specify what form they must be. For example, regulators do not require banks to have an electronic payment function that matches the initial method of the payment.

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