Powering real-time business

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by Victor Penna

Published: 25 September 2019

Powerful market drivers are transforming the business landscape. Digitisation is enabling businesses to connect to suppliers and clients in new and more direct ways. At the same time, customers are demanding more of a real-time experience, challenging firms to come up with faster and more efficient ways of delivering products and services to them, both in the business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) spaces.

To succeed in this new real-time world, businesses need new tools: real-time FX pricing engines to price locally when selling cross-border, alternative payment methods that can be used by customers to purchase online, and application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect bank and corporate systems to support the instant processing, reconciliation and settlement of transactions. As a result, businesses can capture new markets, offering clients additional services, opening new distribution channels, and executing transactions faster and more efficiently.

At Standard Chartered, we are helping clients to enhance their business through digital co-creation, developing new solutions with clients and delivering digital tools to support e-commerce.

Real-time FX pricing for E-commerce

Victor Penna, Head of Cash Management, Europe & Americas, and Global Head of Cash Structured Solution Development, Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered

More and more businesses are using websites and apps to sell directly to their end clients in multiple markets with products often sourced from central production facilities. Going online enables them to reach new countries and markets, growing their business at a lower cost compared to establishing a presence on the ground. As local buyers are keen to pay for products and services in their home currency whilst looking for price certainty, the ability to provide real-time pricing in multiple currencies is a key ingredient for success.

To help businesses instantly price products and services in different currencies, Standard Chartered has developed a dynamic FX pricing engine, SCALE, that provides automated FX pricing and execution for e-commerce platforms. With this API based solution, businesses can dynamically price products in multiple currencies from a base price and receive settlement in their functional currency. It’s an integrated tool to support local currency and payment methods, so websites or apps can easily be tailored to new markets.

It also gives the buyer price certainty as businesses have control of the FX margins applied to customer transactions, with an option to lock in guaranteed FX rates for an agreed period to reduce market volatility. Treasury no longer must worry about managing FX as transactions are automatically converted to the base functional currency of the business and settled on a daily basis.

This solution has already been applied to many online sites and processes where dynamic FX pricing and settlement is required.

Real-time Payments and Collections

The growth of instant payment systems combined with APIs, means businesses can also now settle transactions real-time using a range of new payment methods such as mobile money, bank instant payments, and peer to peer payments. These can be offered as standalone payment and collections channels or delivered through an omni-channel payment gateway. The gateway combines credit cards, debit cards and alternative payment instruments on a single payment page that can be integrated with an online site, mobile app, or instore point of sale system. Moreover, Standard Chartered can also support generation of QR codes for merchants wishing to offer this as part of their payment service.

Examples of real-time payment solutions being used by our clients range from supporting alternative payment methods on e-commerce sites and mobile apps for buyers, to real-time payment processing of insurance claims, marketing incentives and time sensitive supplier payments. Other applications include enabling real-time, high-volume mobile wallet top-ups and instant cross-border payments between mobile wallets in different currencies using a combination of mobile payments and SCALE.
API Integration

Unlike traditional cash management services that are primarily integrated with ERP and TMS platforms, many online and real-time business solutions are supported by new systems and platforms that require bespoke cash management solutions and integration via real-time APIs. Standard Chartered has re-architected its core platforms to operate on a real-time basis and exchange a range of transactional information via customised APIs that enable bank to corporate connectivity across a wide range of systems.

A new way of doing business

The ‘Uberisation’ of commerce has driven businesses to operate in new and different ways, embracing digitisation to streamline processes and move business online. This requires the development of bespoke FX and cash management solutions designed to support specific business activities. By co-creating together, we can combine the potential of new technologies to transform businesses and develop unique solutions that will help our clients succeed.