The bank’s Treasury Management cash cow from corporates is under threat 

A few eons ago – well before Fintech was called Fintech – I was selling software to Banks that the Banks then used to offer Treasury services to Corporates. I got a lead from a Fortune 50 Corp. My management told me to forget it, but the Corp had budget and need, so I closed a deal.

My company saw this as a one off deal. They were wrong – it was the start of a much bigger market of corporates buying Treasury systems directly.

This is one more example of banks getting cut out of the juicy cash flows and becoming commoditized. It is the same as Personal Financial Management (PFM) in the consumer space. The bank becomes simply a place where a record is held – the value added part that the customer interacts with happens elsewhere.

This is not a new threat. This Euromoney article points out a “25% increase in companies connected to SWIFT in 2010”. In other words, corporates are disinter-mediating banks using the messaging infrastructure owned by banks!

If SWIFT does not offer this, somebody else will by using Blockchain technology. Messaging (passing bits over the Internet with some semantics built in) is hardly a value added service any more. In the Blockchain world, SWIFT is code for “antiquated payment rails designed in the 1970s along with flared trousers”.

The Euromoney article goes on to tell us that the dam is breaking first in Europe:

“The majority of SWIFT corporate users, 71%, are in Europe with 19% in the Americas and 10% in Asia Pacific.”

This is no longer just the Global 2000. Again from Euromoney:

“mid-sized companies (those with annual turnover of less than €1 billion), are increasing in number and already represent 40%.”

This represents a big SAAS Cloud opportunity. Once Treasurers get past the security issue, Treasurers look at SAAS the same way that their colleagues running Sales did when their adoption drove the first wave of SAAS in the CRM market.

Banks who are big in transactional services are inserting themselves into the transaction flow. For example, Citi offers CFX ERP Integrator to extract payment details from their clients’ ERP databases.

The first phase of cloud was simply about reducing the cost, time, hassle of installing and maintaining software in your own data center. The next phase is much bigger, where the SAAS product aggregates external data. The real value add then becomes data analytics that can drive revenue or service or some other front line activity.

There is currently a head to head battle between two vendors in theTreasury Management Service (TMS) SAAS market;



Big traditional vendors in this market include Sungard and Wall Street Systems (an early pioneer). Another contender is GTreasury.

In Switzerland, a company called Fides is focussed simply on the connectivity with banks to ease reporting. Treasury is fundamentally about reporting on cash flow, so this makes sense.

Innovation is happening at the early stage. Standard Treasury is a YC alum founded in May 2013, taking an API approach to the connectivity issue.

A stealth mode company to watch is Treasury xpress.

This looks like a market entering hypergrowth. The need is there. The base tools are there. Many competent vendors are competing. Another sign is that there are three specialist sites covering this market:

CTM File

Treasury Insider

Treasury Peer

This shift – to a Treasury Management Service (TMS) that accesses multiple bank accounts – matters to banks because a lot of their relationship is with the Treasurer. It is not good for banks if the Treasurer views their banks as a commodity data provider accessed through APIs.


5 thoughts on “The bank’s Treasury Management cash cow from corporates is under threat 

  1. I agree that cloud services delivered via TMS and SWIFT have changed the role of banks. In addition, the cloud has also spawned an entire series of business categories such as peer-to-peer lending, non-bank payment channels, and virtual currencies whose success only enriches the points you already made. While many of these niche capabilities are stand-alone, how they aggregate and integrate together (via partnership or acquisition) will drive how corporates consume treasury services.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s