Doing business abroad brings myriad challenges for treasuryteams, from currency exchange issues to language andcultural differences to regulatory and political considerations.Doing business in markets where funds transfers are tightlycontrolled by the government ratchets up those challenges toanother level. Moving cash across borders is notoriously difficultin many emerging markets. And developing visibility into accountbalances and funds flows can require a huge amount of manualeffort.

The winners of the 2019 Alexander Hamilton Awards in thecategory Best Practices in Restricted/Emerging Markets foundinnovative and effective ways to overcome these challenges:

  • Bronze Award:  PingPong Global Solutions has built itsbusiness around e-commerce merchants' need to quickly and easilyrepatriate funds to their home country. To streamline the process,especially for its large customer base in China, PingPong workedwith its global partner bank to establish a virtual accountstructure in which each merchant has a virtual account for eachcurrency in which it does business. Now customers can see accountbalances, perform currency conversions, and transfer funds througha custom solution PingPong developed for management of the virtualaccounts.
  • Silver Award:  To improve theefficiency of its global treasury group, Microsoft needed to increase automation in itsprocesses for collecting bank account information in markets suchas China, Korea, and South Africa. The company worked with bankingpartners to achieve automated data flows into Microsoft's treasurysystems, even from unusual types of accounts, such as MMDAs andHYDDAs. As a result, Microsoft's treasury leaders can now see 99percent of the company's global cash balances, at a glance, ontheir mobile phones.
  • Gold Award:  Flywire specializes in supporting cross-borderpayments from individual payers to institutions such as foreignuniversities. In one of its largest markets—India—the company wasstuck with an assortment of manual processes due to rules arounddocumentation needed to support any conversion of rupees. Through apartnership with its global bank, Flywire also set up a virtualaccount structure and developed a technology solution thatautomates processes around both funds transfers and the collectionof information that RBI requires.

All three companies emphasize the importance of working withknowledgeable partners in emerging markets. "If we'd walked intothe RBI [Reserve Bank of India] up front, by ourselves, and said,'We're going to take all this digital and online, as an Americanoffshore company,' I don't think the conversation would have gonemuch past that point in time," says Ryan Frere, executive vicepresident of global payments for Flywire. "Our case is muchstronger if it's coming from a financial institution that isregistered in-market than if it's coming from us. So we frequentlypursue these types of joint conversations with central banks to getapproval for our model. And that's how it worked in this case."

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