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Cash and carry on

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Cash management remains a crucial part of banking as well as a catalyst for technological innovation. Whether it is the completion of a multitude of transactions or working across myriad currencies, Societe Generale continues to stand at the vanguard of development in this plain but crucial operation.

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Author
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Aurelien Viry 
Head of payments & cash management

Technology advancements offer a view of a perfect world in which international payments are executed instantly, efficiently, cheaply and in high volume – all the elements of a treasurer’s dream. But while the days of ledgers and humongous filing cabinets are long gone, many treasurers sit in a purgatory, placed somewhere between this sunny vision and dull reality.

Cash management can be seen as a fairly simple and commoditized business in which reams of transactions are arranged across many customer accounts, countries and currencies. Even so, it remains plagued with a mechanical and human ineptitude that sparks searches to find the location of malfunctions.

Yet cash management has taken on greater strategic importance for companies, as has the role of the corporate treasurer. Transactions within a corporate group and with its external partners are arranged across a variety of accounts and currencies, and according to local and international regulations. Dealing with this complexity and creating a solution requires the completion of two processes, one that overcomes the fallibility of humans and another that improves the efficiency of machines. 

Make it Swift

First, payment messages handled by corporates must be managed in a uniform format, adopting correct standards, in order to avoid payment delays and incidents. A straightjacket is desirable and, more importantly, is available in services like Swift MyStandards, a technology that allows immediate access to messaging standards offered by Societe Generale that work alongside the customer readiness portal to provide an autonomous testing environment that rapidly speeds up and simplifies the on-boarding process. MyStandards puts corporate treasurers in charge of the process and makes them self-sufficient, allowing them to build their own files, which they can test against the international standard.

As MyStandards perfects the testing of payment formats, Swift gpi (Swift’s global payments innovation) sweeps in to make the ensuing transfer fast and unaltered, thanks to the nine banks that have been leading the development of transfer and tracking technology since November 2017. Today, 49% of Swift gpi payments in all currencies are sent and credited to beneficiaries within 30 minutes.

In the early stages of this crucial development in payments system, attention was drawn to improvements in efficiency and transparency on payment deductions along the chain. The gpi tracker means that customers will get real-time, end-to-end information on global payments to beneficiary accounts and proper confirmation of credit. 

Societe Generale is now able to issue and receive gpi cross-border payments in 11 countries in Europe and Asia, denominated in euros or other global currencies. The new developments in technology allow customers to access payment information via customer support teams or host-to-host solutions and eventually, via Societe Genérale’s Global Cash application, within the SG Markets API-based web portal. 

Become a player in transactional FX

Today, Societe Generale is an important player in transactional FX, with an agile operating model and a correspondent banking network of more than 67 countries. We see how frequently international payments are made via multiple foreign currencies and the challenges this poses. For a treasurer, it means juggling local regulations, accreditations, trading standards and international tax laws as well as the currency conversion processes. As a consequence, when it comes to ensuring a seamless cross-currency payment experience, a solution like Societe Generale’s Pay FX fulfils an important need. It enables automated and seamless payments to be made and received in local currencies: the customer will make payments via the SG Markets Global Cash platform or host-to-host solutions in more than 80 local currencies and receive incoming flows in more than 40 local currencies. By not holding multiple currency accounts or soliciting access to the financial markets, it ensures optimum treasury efficiency and encourages treasury centralization, while maintaining control over the whole transactional process. 

Draw on your core strengths 

Above all, corporate treasurers need a committed banking partner to guide them through domestic, regional and international markets. A reliable cash management partner can understand corporate business issues and offer dependable technologies and solutions, decrypt market trends and to help its clients comply with regulatory constraints, all at the same time. 

Societe Generale has added a commitment to technology as well as the people required to secure a leading position. Treasurers need banks to support them with the offer of innovative technologies and the availability of committed experts, a bedrock that Societe Generale is built upon. 

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