My introductory blog last week included references to a bicycle race. I now bring us to our first race stop, and this week we're going to talk about ‘real time’. At this point in the race, our cyclists are looking around and seeing how the competition compares.
For a bank, this means how they compare to their peers and industry leaders, and for a corporate customer, it's about knowing what they've got to work with now.
In the UK, we've embraced real-time with Faster Payments, and from the consumer perspective, it’s very exciting. It means I can pay my credit card bill later and thereby keep the money to myself for longer, and subsequently benefit from absolutely no extra
interest in my 0% interest current account (0% is disappointing, but the concept is jolly clever nonetheless). Of course there are more benefits than just that, and I certainly appreciate knowing that the money has been warmly received by my beneficiary.
The story is more important when we start to look at the corporate client. Holding onto their money for an extra day or two means it can be used as working capital. And working capital is good. When a corporate does pay, they need to know exactly when it
is received. Knowing where their money is at that moment in time is what’s important to them, and helps them maintain mutually rewarding trading relationships. So it's about real-time payments, real-time reporting and statuses back; anything else is too long
and too late.
We are making progress with some of our 'peloton' banks that are investing heavily with real-time core banking, real-time payment engines and real-time reporting. But of course many of the bank systems are still stuck in batch mode and will be for many years
to come. The biggest costs for getting Faster Payments in the UK was not only the central infrastructure, but also the banks moving to real-time capabilities and doing so on legacy systems. Thankfully new solutions are coming forward that can bring legacy
systems kicking and screaming into the modern age without the need for this heavy investment. This week, I'm attending a launch event for such a system and it will be fascinating to discuss with industry pundits how this can truly help the peloton with their
customer propositions and their readiness for real-time.
And then there is the big dinosaur in the room, which we shall call the 'MT103-osauraus'. Let's face it, the MT103 is a 20th century model and the lack of carried information, and lack of real-time confirmation of arrival and settlement, is hampering true
global trade. SWIFT are trying to push the MX messages, but until that is embraced consistently around the world, we're going nowhere.
We can achieve real-time domestically with RTGS and a bit of effort, but internationally we're going to have to embrace beyond MT103s to be truly great. Perhaps that's why some banks are now looking for Correspondent+ services outside of the standard SWIFT
Real-time is certainly a buzzword, so what do you think will truly make a difference? Send me your comments.
Next week, race stop two, and we'll take a look at improving some of those legacy systems.