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Stepping Up to Mobile Treasury Management

A quick review of those industry newsletters filling e-mail in-boxes every day finds literally dozens of articles on mobile banking. The message is clear: the mobile banking train is leaving the station and banks had better be on board. With all this attention, however, one topic is being mostly ignored – mobile treasury management.

When talking with community and mid-size banks about mobile banking, I often hear this concern: “Mobile banking is about the consumer; we’re commercially focused and it just doesn’t fit our strategy.” A valid concern, to be sure. However, considering that the larger players added mobile tools to their treasury management suites long ago, even the “fast follower” community and mid-size banks now find themselves in a weak competitive position.

The demand for mobile treasury management functionality exists, and it’s growing. In an October 2012 study sponsored by FundTech and conducted by Treasury Strategies, 80% of corporate treasurers indicated that multi-channel (smartphone, tablet and desktop) access to treasury management services was important. Additionally, 53% of corporate treasurers said that this multi-channel access will be a key factor in selecting a new banking relationship. Every business out there is looking for ways to be efficient and nimble and mobile treasury management constitutes a real tool for banks to address this need.

Now is the time for bankers to either start thinking about alternatives, such as acquiring and integrating best-of-breed solutions or ensuring that their current solution provider has a committed plan for adding mobile treasury management functionality. Here are a few examples of basic mobile treasury management functionality that community and mid-size banks should be looking to add over the next 12 to 24 months:

Wire & Automated Clearing House (ACH) Origination and Approval. At a minimum, be thinking about wire approval. You may ask, “What about security?” which is a good question in light of the horror stories related to account takeover fraud. Think about this: a common theme with account takeover fraud is the lack of accounting controls, such as transaction dual-approval, at the victim’s organization. The challenge has been the lone accountant or bookkeeper trying to find the business’ principal to provide that dual approval. Challenge accepted! With the addition of mobile wire and ACH approval, the ability to “locate” that principal has just been provided.

Fraud-Related Alerts and Decisions. How about providing a business client the ability to receive, review and take action on alerts while on the move? The prime candidate here is positive pay. Positive pay can be a tough sell, but it really takes a bite out of check fraud. Sending an exception alert to a smartphone with the ability to review an image of the item and make a decision would go a long way in promoting adoption of this product.

Mobile Capture for Business. Hopefully, this one is already either in place or in the planning stage. The twist here is targeting the small business that only deposits a handful of checks every day. While trying to sell them a full remote deposit capture solution with a scanner is overkill, mobile deposit is a fantastic tool for these clients.

Security. As mentioned above, protection against account takeover should be front-of-mind. Consider integrating a smartphone app with token functionality or one-time password. This provides the “layer” of security the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council is looking for and it also improves bank efficiency by lowering the management burden associated with physical tokens.

Controlled Disbursement Reporting. This is where things start to transition toward the high end. The ability to track incoming items and make decisions on the move sounds like a corporate treasurer’s dream.

An important focus when considering all of this functionality is ensuring that the experience is consistent among delivery channels. So, start teeing up these questions regarding this functionality to service providers and make sure they are moving forward. Treasury management has always been a key to cementing commercial relationships and can boost non-interest income.

Mr. Besselievre is a senior director with Cornerstone Advisors, Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based consulting firm specializing in bank management, strategy and technology advisory services. He can be reached at [email protected].