An incumbent in global transaction services, Bank of America has worked towards a simple yet compelling strategy of delivering the best-in-class services amalgamated with rapid digitization efforts. Validating this point further is Mr. Faisal Ameen, Head of Asia Pacific Global Transaction Services, Bank of America who says, “Our approach to innovation revolves around directly addressing clients’ real-life challenges. Our investments over the years have been directed towards developing new solutions, enhancing existing solutions, platforms and associated back office processes, with digitization at the centre of it all.”
Responding to client requests
With the global health crisis bringing economic activities to a halt, dialogues ensued between banks and their clients, shedding light on pertinent requirements such as declining working capital and cash reserves underpinned by strained cash flow, varied credit facility requests, and the need for better visibility of treasury operations. With a clear direction, Bank of America is now at the cusp of building its next-generation of virtual account solutions with which it plans to eliminate the need for multiple physical accounts all together thus, achieving higher visibility, reducing cost and improving cash forecasting.
Further to this, transaction services are time-consuming, requiring heaps of paperwork and approvals which hinders operational efficiencies, slowing down the decision making cycle. Modern transaction banking clients want banks to automate and streamline processes to bring about operational efficiencies to their treasuries. Mr. Ameen delves into process simplification and automation with their Intelligent Receivables® solution, “an invoice matching service which uses advanced scanning techniques, artificial intelligence and machine learning, to match payments to open accounts receivables and has almost 100% data capturing accuracy.” Quick to acknowledge that numerous Fintech companies are also providing similar services, Bank of America differentiates its offering by fully integrating its various automated services with its electronic banking platform – CashPro, a fully integrated multi-channel platform with best-in-class security controls.
Accelerating the move to digital
While digitization has remained a buzzword for the last few years, 2020 saw a multi-fold increase in adoption of digital processes both by banks and its clients. In tandem, the bank also noticed an increased adoption of digital services among clients earlier resistant to digitization. With this, Mr. Ameen also points out that a key area of investment for Bank of America, the CashPro platform, has tremendously paid off this year. In 2019, the CashPro ecosystem geographically expanded, and inducted a multitude of initiatives such as Apple Watch capabilities and a self-service document tool, which ensured a smooth transition for new clients in 2020.
At the forefront of adopting advanced technology, Bank of America has spent over $30 billion in the last 10 years towards new initiatives.
At the forefront of adopting advanced technology, Bank of America has spent over $30 billion in the last 10 years towards new initiatives. Embedded in its transaction banking ecosystem across various services lines are the bank’s technological capabilities which deliver payments flexibility, simplification of the operating environment, actionable insights, and management of cyber risks. Mr. Ameen elaborates on the bank’s technology adoption strategy – “We are actively exploring distributed ledger technology with industry consortiums and other third parties in areas such as global payments and trade finance.” In addition to this, Bank of America is also among the first US bank to join the Marco Polo Network – the largest and fastest growing trade finance network, allowing the bank’s clients access to innovative risk mitigation solutions while improving transparency throughout each transaction lifecycle.
Treading with Caution
With large scale adoption of advance technology and digitization of banking systems, Mr. Faisal Ameen comments – “while the benefits of the digitization are compelling, it brings with it concerns around fraud and cyber security. Increased exposure to these risks especially with the work-from-home arrangement in place, has made our clients far more cognizant of the need for a safe and secure digital ecosystem.” The pandemic initiated a learning curve in the cyber security space, and also exposed the inefficiencies of the current supply chain financing ecosystem. On a positive note, Mr. Faisal Ameen says, “the pandemic has accelerated coordinated efforts by governments and industry bodies to develop new trade and technology standards. It also provided the momentum for regulators, central banks and governments to reassess legislations and regulations making room for a dynamic and a new banking model that supports end-to-end digitization.”