The Sepa Consultancy Ltd has issued a report analysing the development and role of Service Bureaux in transaction banking services.
Service Bureau are the channel of choice for over 80% of corporates and banks connecting to SWIFT's network but the business case is no longer predicated on the provision of basic connectivity and membership alone. There has to be more value.
The growing requirement for corporates, particularly but not exclusively those in the mid-market sector, is to manage multi-bank and cash management relationships more effectively, preferably independently of bank proprietary services.
The report looks at the attractive yet complex opportunities of the increased openness of SWIFT to all participants in the financial market and all aspects of financial trading that make it important for all corporates, banks and financial services providers to connect.
Bureaux are viewed increasingly as hubs for handling all financial messages and transactions and yet few offer such services. Far too many exist in the belief that provision of basic access to the SWIFT network is a sustainable business model.
For their part corporates want what the multi-national (pseudo banks) have enjoyed for many years;a single integrated connection to the SWIFT network to manage their many banking partners and give them greater control and visibility of their cash positions and transactions. This is the same requirement banks seeking agency services look for.
SWIFT's plans to drive significant increase in corporate access to a level of 5,000 by 2015 is heavily dependent on Service Bureaux but the disparate mix of providers is a concern for an organisation whose reputation is based on the robustness and resilience of the network it manages.
Transaction banking services continue to undergo significant transformation and this, in turn, challenges banks and bureaux plans' and strategies. The dependency on bureau providers is great yet many struggle financially and against competitive demand for business services over and above basic connectivity to SWIFT. There iis real concern that one or several will fail.
The SEPA Consultancy Ltd Service Bureau Report focuses on the implications for all involved in this sector, including those new investors attracted by the opportunities. Assessing the risks and implications as a seller, buyer (corporate or bank) or investor associated with acquiring a bureau is complex and challenging. Who emerges successfully and when is dependent on decisions taken today and yet many are ill-equipped to unravel the complexities. There will be further consolidation in this market and casualties also.
The report addresses the issues, looks at the options, solutions and challenges current business plans, operating models and the investment essential to success.
Gary Wright, Director of The SEPA Consultancy Ltd, states, 'It is in the interests of both banks and corporates to drive the demand and value to be realised by the pivotal role of Service Bureaux in opening access to SWIFT based providers and services.
Yet the growth will cause changes to the market for all involved. Many relatively small, bureau providers operating nationally in a business that is increasingly global will struggle to compete.
For buyers of services there is greater scrutiny and assessment of providers to undertake and this is complex and challenging but the opportunity is great if realised.'