Running treasury operations through mobile devices hardly swept through the industry like wildfire when it was introduced four years ago by banks like Wells Fargo. But the number of banks with mobile offerings has now reached critical mass, and strategies are shifting.
“The initial focus of banks and treasury management systems was transaction review and approval by mobile device,” says Laurie McCulley, a managing director at consultancy Treasury Strategies who regularly works with corporate technology installations. “But what treasury users really want and what the vendors are now introducing is reporting from the treasury management system—a dashboard that is readable on a mobile device and shows liquidity positions and risk exposures.”
Bank of America Merrill Lynch makes its mobile debut this year with select features that fit mobile devices and the executives who use them, rather than opening a mobile connection to its online banking platform, reports Cindy Murray, B of A’s head of global treasury product infrastructure, platforms and ecommerce. The bank plans three 2011 releases, which will all be compatible with Apple, Google and BlackBerry tablets and smaller mobile devices. Users want a select menu that is tailored to workflows, Murray says. B of A’s program is organized around the decisions that mobile users make—such as unlocking users, resetting passwords, changing entitlements and receiving positive pay alerts—and exactly what they need to execute those decisions with just a couple of clicks, she explains.
At Citigroup, two top treasury tech projects involve mobile. One is the extension of CitiDirect to mobile users. The bank is piloting an arrangement that lets mobile users approve payments that have been entered in CitiDirect and get notification of their balances, reports Hubert J.P. Jolly, managing director for channel and enterprise services for Citi Global Transaction Services.
“It won’t be a separate platform,” Jolly says. “The user names and passwords will be the same as CitiDirect. What you can log in and approve today, you will be able to do with an Android, iPhone or BlackBerry.” Citi’s move comes as browsers have become more functionally adept and as security has improved, he adds.
The second Citi initiative uses mobile devices, instead of checks or currency, to make payments when a driver drops off merchandise—delivering soft drinks to a convenience store, for example. The driver uses his or her mobile device to generate a debit to a bank account or stored-value source, and the store manager approves the charge using his or her mobile. “This will allow us to compete for business in regions where we don’t have branches,” Jolly notes.