The Future Looks Bright for Treasury Technology:
Fintech Hotseat Panel Discussion
- What new technologies do you see becoming a huge trigger for change in the next few years?
- Is private equity taking firms private part of an ongoing, increasing trend?
- Which will dominate in the following year: new growth, or consolidation?
They also share perspectives and ideas on how treasury can make the most of these changes.
Want to watch the video version? Click here.
- Paul Galloway of Strategic Treasurer, LLC
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Episode Transcription - Episode #231 - The Future Looks Bright for Treasury Technology-Fintech Hotseat Panel Discussion – AFP 2022 transcript
Welcome to the Treasury Update Podcast presented by Strategic Treasurer, your source for interesting treasury news, analysis, and insights in your car, at the gym, or wherever you decide to tune in. In this podcast, we’ll hear from our four panelists on the future of treasury technology. This episode was recorded at the 2022 AFP conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our panelists discuss questions like what new technologies do they see becoming a huge trigger for change in the next few years, private equity firms have been taking firms private is this part of an ongoing or increasing trend, as well as some speed rounds to gauge the importance of new technologies. This episodes moderated by Paul Galloway, a senior consultant here at strategic treasure. And our four panelists are Rodney Nilson, VP of Product Management at Bottomline Technologies, Mitchell Thomas, who’s head of solutions engineering at FinLync, Todd Yoder, managing director of strategic finance with Fluor Corp, and Craig Jeffery, founder and managing partner of Strategic Treasurer. And with that, I’ll hand the show over to our moderator, Paul Galloway.
Paul Galloway 01:17
Thanks, gentlemen, for being here this morning, I’ll try to take it easy on you. Just one item of note, just a reminder, when we get to the speed round, that you have to make a selection. It’s one or the other. You can’t say both. Just a reminder. So let’s start out with technology changes and challenges. What are the biggest shifts or changes in technology over the past few years?
Todd Yoder 01:45
The changes, I mean, we could talk for I think, for a couple of days about the changes in technology and the acceleration, the difference between linear and exponential. Ten linear steps gets you across the room. Ten exponential steps gets you to the moon. I guess for a little fun to start off. And in honor of our friend, Bruce Edwin, I have a problem. So the hundreds of people out there by show of hands, how many people in their lifetime bought a music CD. Wow, that’s nearly everyone. And how many of you bought a music CD, and within the past 12 months, we have one out of hundreds of people. So that is payments, payment rails, methods for payments. So all the stuff that we’re used to with wires and ACHs and global ACHs and RTP and you name it. All the stuff that we’re used to. I think that new entry is DLT, commonly referred to as blockchain. But really, it’s distributed ledger technology, because there are ways to reach consensus, and have anonymity and immutable transactions without actually using quote, a blockchain. The thing that I’m really excited about the change is the super apps. And when you think of a super happy think of web dot one where you know, it’s read, we’re all logging on to the internet. Back in MMA for me, it was 1995, you know, and you can read, it’s kind of like Wikipedia of different businesses. And then we move into web two that we’re all used to, and it’s more interaction and chat and a lot of cool capabilities. But then moving into web dot three, and more of the super apps. And so banking services, everything that we do web two, you know, is owned by these platforms owned by the big, big money. And they have a lot of control. So they can cancel people like Craig and I if they want to. We’ve never been canceled, of course, but they have the power to do that. So the power is not in the hands of the people. And so as we go to web three in the Super apps, you know, how many in web two, how many of you have over 20, passwords, to log on to different platforms and services, right? And how many times a day do you use that Forgotten Password? Clicker with the Super apps, it’s going to be we have one app on our iPhone, or Android or Samsung. We’d log on to that Super App. And then there’ll be a bunch of developers building out micro apps micro services. And so I think that’s what we’ll see. And then with web three, I think we’ll see multibuy rail payments on the far side. So not the near side that we’re going to see in us but the far side so the stuff that happens behind the scenes that We all want to be seamless. And it’s really kind of boring. I mean, it’s exciting for us, but not for, you know, 99% of the rest of the population to talk about the fireside on payment rails, but we just want it all to work. And we want it to work fast.
Paul Galloway 05:15
Wow, there was a great prop, by the way, I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. It’s been a long time.
Rodney Nilson 05:22
At least he employed a five and a quarter inch floppy. I don’t know how many people raise your hand, if you’d pull that out. When I think about technology that gets fueled change for the past several years, I thought cloud computing is probably the biggest, or at least one of the biggest variables or triggers for change, right, it provided on demand access, or it provides on demand access to compute power, so that you know, you can scale your scale your scale your apps in any way you need to, it provides on demand access to data storage, so that you can do things like drive machine learning, or data analytics. So again, in terms of changed over the last few years, I was hard pressed to come up with something I thought other than cloud computing, that was just a massive trigger for for change.
Mitchell Thomas 06:05
I guess kind of in alignment with the super apps, I think what we’re seeing is, you know, those micro services, the interoperability of those services, and being able to essentially offer the same types of, you know, functionality and things that Treasury groups have come to really expect from like their, you know, TMS is and their ERPs, and things like that, but allowing those companies to really focus and specialize in those singular areas. Because in order to keep up with, you know, the technological change that we’ve been experiencing, there’s nobody that’s going to be able to innovate in all areas, and be able to keep up and compete. So it’s really dependent on those, you know, small niche companies to really power that Super App and really drive the technology to be able to, you know, essentially offer those things kind of next level connectivity, Next Level functionality, and what essentially treasuries are going to need to operate in the future.
Paul Galloway 07:06
Well, this has been a really good discussion around the changes that you folks see, come on, and Craig, maybe you could hit on some of the challenges that you see, for technology.
Craig Jeffery 07:20
When you pulled out that CD, and you mentioned the floppy drives, I was thinking Bernoulli drives in the giant albums, like who’s ever bought a giant album? I think that’s indicative of things have changed rappeling. So what are the challenges we have, we have an explosion of data over multiple years, 40% to 40% to 45% growth in data every single year, which is a doubling. Every year, quadrupling every four, you know, eight fold, it just scales rapidly. That’s one. And we also have the ability to compute at scale, we have these services that you don’t need to have a data center that has, you know, 15 servers, you know, so many core processors, you can buy that and use it and scale up. So what’s what’s the challenges there’s a there’s another shift whether it’s web 3.0 or some other shift we’ve moved from into the cloud with software as a service to fully scalable web native applications with with microservices that are faster development. So I think one of the challenges is how do we move and handle that change systematically that you want to move in one direction, but sometimes your infrastructure is not there. But what’s changed, if you look at, you know, banks moved from installed versions of software to the cloud, and they’ve expanded their capabilities rapidly. tech firms have kept up and it’s hard to make the jump over each technological hurdle. But even looking at the looking at the ERP is what’s happened. Everyone who’s on Oracle is moving to Oracle Cloud, people that are in SAP are moving to S/4 Hana. They’re all moving to more cloud native for the scalability. So the challenge is the infrastructure. The other is, how do we handle information because information is the core, the food, the energy, the blood of our systems, that has to be handled, we have to handle that data. So in a system and a process, there’s the whole, I don’t want to call the streaming aspect, but the orchestrated movement of business processes across different systems. There’s not one, how do you how do you handle the open finance open treasury, where it’s API enabled, and and the workflow moves, that those I think are some of the bigger problems? The other is the mindset, keeping people moving forward with this change? We’re in a period of great change. And not everyone’s keeping up on what those changes are, how do you hire, how do you keep people developing? I think those are some of the challenges.
Paul Galloway 09:43
Thanks, Craig. Those are great comments and definitely complement what the other panelists had to say. And as we think about the next five years, with technology, what do you see as being the most disruptive and uh, Ronnie, we’ll start with you this time.
Rodney Nilson 10:03
Sure. I think it’s actually building what’s the panelists talked about the lead change date, I think it’s only going to further increase. And that’s really API’s, or really, I should say externalized API’s, I think just about any modern application built today is going to have a set of API’s that’s used internally externalization was API’s, ready third party consumption, I think that’s really going to be you know, gasoline, the fire of super apps, for example, right, all of a sudden, if I’ve got a standard way to acquire an account balance, or to make a payment, right, you’ve got these FinTech providers that can build one set of integration all of a sudden get massive scale, versus have to worry about integrating to different points. So I really see, you know, standardization, nationalization of API’s as being just a huge trigger for change over the next five years.
Mitchell Thomas 10:46
I would agree with that. I think, you know, continuing on that point, I think the availability of API’s across kind of the finance industry, you know, beyond just banks is going to really enable you all the folks in this room to really do their jobs better.
Craig Jeffery 10:59
In terms of changes, I mean, certainly API’s are so different than they were earlier, you know, whether they were legacy API’s, the internalized to externalize to API gateways that allow the coordination because we were trying to move to end to end processing digital, anytime there’s a break, there’s a handoff, there’s errors, there’s defects, that waste time, it wastes money, it makes it harder to know what we’re doing. There’s nothing good that comes from the physical handoffs. And so the more we can move towards the digital handoffs cleanly, the better it is. And yet, when we look at AR AP, it’s 70% of companies have a mindset of end to end with their external partners, and 21%. On the AR side, I may have that reverse, there’s a massive amount of room to grow. But that ability to exchange things digitally is one aspect for the business flow. And then there’s the other side of how do we leverage that information, for analysis and insight, whether it’s for forecasting, fraud prevention, understand where the business goes, I think that’s the other, the other opportunity.
Todd Yoder 12:01
Web 3 would be the most disruptive and the most unknown at this point, just because currently, right? With web dot two, like like I talked about, we all have these passwords, we all have our data resides on servers of big companies with lots of money, you know, and then the thing or you, I can sign on to this different website, using my credentials from, let’s say, my LinkedIn profile, basically, I’m giving them permission to know everything that I do on this other website. And so it’s not just the banks, and especially some of these apps where they want access to your bank account. So they have all that transaction data. So by doing this, they can basically know every single thing I do, when I do it, how we do it, why I do it, and they own it. So web three is going to append all of that, and it’s coming. It’s already here. But it’s, you know, through decentralization, and cryptography and zero knowledge proofs. And a lot of these technologies are making it so that these huge, mega companies won’t own all of our data, we will have control of our data. And you can think of it like a physical wallet that you have, where you may keep your driver’s license, credit cards, pictures of your kids migrated to a digital world in a wallet, all those important documents you have at home, some of those, you’d rather not have them in paper, in a safe somewhere, you’d rather have them secure digitally, with, you know, a seed phrase, as they call it a password, so that other people can’t access that. So you have some security there. So I think web three just because there’s so many questions, how’s it going to come in? How’s it going to end? What I’m really interested in and trying to find out this week, is what people’s different people’s thoughts are on payment rails, and how web three will interact with these payment rails.
Paul Galloway 14:07
Thanks, great comments there. And given the challenges and the changes that we have, that we see out there in the market, how can companies position themselves best for this?
Mitchell Thomas 14:20
Yeah, I think similar to what we talked about earlier, as far as you know, specialized providers really focusing on being able to figure out these new rails of technology, how to best utilize the data, and, you know, standardize that information, because all the banks are innovating at rapid paces for all of you know, our traditional rails when it comes to payments, you know, ACH wires and things like that. And then they’re adding curveballs in there, like real time payments, crypto, tight payments and things like that. So for a corporate IT group and we all know, Treasury a lot of times becomes second fiddle, third fiddle to other parts of the organization. Keeping up with that change from an IoT technology perspective, is almost impossible. So what we’ve kind of focused on today’s decentralization. So, you know, finding those providers that can really specialize in that connectivity, and simplify things from the corporate perspective, I think is critical for adoption for all these new technologies.
Rodney Nilson 15:21
I’d echo that sentiment, I think the parallel me is right, I talked about cloud computing, providing on demand access to more capacity compute power storage. Similarly, I think the appropriate partner ecosystem provides on demand access for organizations to consume technology and work that change, you know, their business process. So I completely agree, I think it’s really important to have the right mindset that you know, changes is certainly ever increasing. And I think to try to go it alone is just too big a challenge, having the right partner partner ecosystem, I think is a big way to keep up.
Paul Galloway 15:56
Any different views on that, Todd?
Todd Yoder 15:58
I would just say, you know, simple education. So for all of you, Treasurers and CFOs, out there, getting up to speed on these technologies and the evolution in the market, because it’s happening so quickly. And I know none of us want to hear this, but investing in human capital, hiring diverse people from different backgrounds, obviously, we want to hire really smart people. But we don’t want to hire people that look and act just like us with this huge treasury background. But people that have spent time in different parts of the ecosystem, if you don’t have them internally, within your company that you can really leverage, higher, just spend the money and hire, it’s a smart thing to do. And the board, and the CEO, they’ll thank you for it down the road partnership and collaboration with your fintechs is going to be critical.
Craig Jeffery 16:55
Being a consultant, I tend to be long winded. So I would say strategy, partnerships, architecture and mindset. And we talked about some of those already. So on the strategy side, you know, where do you need to be? What are you trying to, you know, what’s the center of the chessboard that you’re trying to occupy? What does your business need to look like? What does Treasury need to look like? Those are the core items that we all cover. They’re table stakes, we all understand those. On the partnership side, I think we’ve talked about some of that. And I’d give an example. We needed a data lake, we had a lot of data from research. How do we how do we set it up? Do we build a data center with backup drives? No, we provisioned and Azure was a blob, but it was a essentially a data lake in like a half hour, we just turned it on, it was ready to go that’s like, Hey, you want to use a rideshare services, you download the app, and three seconds later, you’re ready to go after you plugged in your payment information. You know, it’s like that would have taken weeks to get the servers to set stuff up. And to make it work. But it was essentially cooking provisioning through our Azure services. And we had a full scale, fully scalable blob. And so partnering with different firms, different banking partners that allow you to scale is one aspect, the other is architecture. Since tech is changing, it has to do with partners that you know, compute at scale, we’ve talked about those things already. And that is that allows massive ability to do what you need to do, which is processing transactions, figuring out the future with cash flows and forecasting, managing risks, leveraging the data. So the architecture and the last of the mindset, which is what’s been talked about before, it’s like hiring people who will get you to where you need to go, training people that can be trained. And there’s also people that won’t stay up with stuff with every time there’s a change, or certain people that aren’t outfitted well to make that change. And I’m not saying that to be harsh, it’s that not everybody makes that change. There’s probably other areas in the organization, they can go to your abilities in in finance and treasury, there has to be much more technical capabilities, even though it’s becoming easier using natural language search, you have to be able to see what can be done as we go through the change, because changes, handling change and making changes different from keeping something running well. And there’s a certain balance in an organization. So that acronym is spam. Or maps if you go the other way.
Paul Galloway 19:19
Thanks. That’s nice. Great comments. Plenty of challenges changes come in. It’s clear to me that speed is going to be part of the process for people to adopt and adapt. With that. I’d like to move into a section called private and public given the changing structure and capital. He’s been taking a number of companies private, is this part of a multi year trend? And Craig, we’ll start with you.
Craig Jeffery 19:48
Yes, I would say I would say it’s definitely part of a multi year trend. The PE firms are awash with capital. They’re looking for good places to pour it into. We’ve seen you know bottom line, acquired by As you know, a very significant firm, I can never say the name point, right. And they’ve been acquiring a lot of other firms to put together a number of organizations to work well. And PE firms have a longer mindset than quarter by quarter. So they have capital, there’s need an opportunity, I think we’re gonna see quite a bit of that more. They’re not full of a 50 million $100 million. They’re filled with billions and billions of dollars. And they can put things together. So it started with trend, there’s still a lot of new innovation, but it’s definitely going to be several years of acquisitions by PE firms.
Paul Galloway 20:32
With that, let’s transition over to Ronnie.
Rodney Nilson 20:36
Yeah, I agree. I think there’s a lot of capital. I think it is something that we’ll continue to see. Thoma Bravo, just to let you know that the firm that acquired Bottomline, but yeah, I think Craig’s right. There’s there’s a lot of capital, there’s opportunity to invest in assets, I think what the, you know, what we see in the market over the last eight ish months, right, obviously, the valuations are a lot lower, so that can make price points a lot more attractive. So I would expect, we’re going to continue to see PE acquisition some of these publicly traded firms going private.
Todd Yoder 21:04
I kind of in a unique situation, I hear more discussions about taking private. So I work for a Fluor Corporation, but at the request of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fluor. For over the past 18 months have been co leading taking a business that we own a majority stake in public called New Scale, which is small modular reactor business, which right now I think the world needs and the first small modular nuclear reactor business that can create carbon free power that has been approved by the NRC, which is like a 16,000 page application, they don’t take nuclear lightly. We took it public with the D Spac transaction D Spac merger, and is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange as of May of this year, so raised 700 million in capital, 200 million private capital, and then another five on top of that. So the money is definitely out there. But as far as moving forward, I think we’ll see a lot more, it’ll be a year of collaboration, a year to five years, a lot of collaboration and a lot of these fintechs that are just dying to show off their science, fair project, strategic alliances, partnerships, and maybe more of these acquisitions.
Paul Galloway 22:32
And close it up, Mitch,
Mitchell Thomas 22:34
it’s all about deriving value, you know, at the end of the day, these PE firms are trying to find and maximize that the value of these companies, you know, in a lot of cases, it’s taking them private and combining them with other entities to do similar or complementary things that really enhance the value. We’ve all seen assets in general decrease in value over the last year. And depending on someone’s outlook on what things look like in the next 689 months to years, there could be extreme value out in the market right now. And I think a lot of these PE firms are seeing that, and kind of really taking advantage of what is a discounted market at this point. And then piecing together these essentially the company version of these super apps to really have something that you know, add some some true value to the market.
Paul Galloway 23:22
Great comments there. As we think about the public private, what’s going on with capital and how that’s been invested and deployed? How do you view this? You know, positive or negative? And if one way or the other household? And we’ll start with Todd on this one.
Todd Yoder 23:40
Yeah, no, I think it’d be very positive, just aligning. Again, I think it’ll be a lot of strategic partnerships, a lot of alliances that companies build and developers different fintechs that focus on certain parts of, you know, like the micro app, or the micro or the mini app, and they have a niche capability that’s super strong, super powerful. So I think it’s going to be very positive for the future for them to work together and stitch these pieces together to create value for corporations.
Rodney Nilson 24:14
Yeah, tend to agree, I think it’s a positive. Craig had mentioned right, getting out of the domain of fickle shareholders and quarter over quarter earnings and results, I think gives an organization chance to take a longer horizon look on what they’re trying to accomplish, unleash the value that Mitch talked about, and ultimately bring even more value for end users customers. So I absolutely think it’s a positive.
Mitchell Thomas 24:35
And I’m a fan of the free market economy. So I think it’s a good thing. We’ve got checks and balances in place to make sure that there’s you know, competition remains even after some of these consolidations. So, at the end of the day, we have to essentially have a level playing field between, you know, public and private. And if, you know, obviously, more money comes from the private investors to take something that was once public handing that money over to the former shareholders. I see that being is kind of the core of our society.
Craig Jeffery 25:06
I think it’s generally positive. I think the other item to, to think about is does this stop innovation with a consolidation? I think we’ve had that argument for a lot of years. It’s are we is there new developments of new companies, new technologies that can better activity are these just roll up plays? And I don’t think they’re roll up plays, I think they’re roll up, in some sense, building larger networks, building connectivity, but the move to open and the ability for new companies to start is still strong. And that’s probably the most positive thing because that spurs innovation allows for growth. I mean, there’s, you know, as you shift from one type of technology to another, a lot of things get undone, you know, in that shift, whether it’s a five year shift or a 20 year shift, but I think it’s, I think it’s generally positive, given everything else that’s going on.
Paul Galloway 25:54
Thank you for those comments, and definitely view on my end, I think that PE has a place in the capital structure out there, and you need access to capital, and it’s definitely an avenue to do it. They wouldn’t exist. If there wasn’t a need. Moving on to new growth or consolidation, which will dominate over the next five years. I think that you may have made some comments earlier about this.
Todd Yoder 26:20
Yeah, I think we’ll see tremendous growth, new fintechs fintechs, further developing, but then we will see consolidation, for sure. No doubt, Craig,
Craig Jeffery 26:35
I think it’ll be more growth. And then, like Todd said, later on the processors, there’s consolidation, it seems as we oftentimes as we approach the end of a tech cycle, where they’re consolidating to eke out margin and economies of scale. To the extent that there’s consolidation earlier, it’s usually for building a broader economy, or a ecosystem for organization. So growth than consolidation.
Paul Galloway 26:59
Mitchell Thomas 26:59
Yeah, I think it’s definitely going to be growth over the next few years. And I don’t know whether it’s going to be traditional consolidation, where things will actually be combined, or if it’ll be really more of a partnership model to where these new companies that are very nimble, flexible and very open to exchanging information will, you know, work together and really build that, you know, ecosystem that Todd was talking about to have something that’s really new and unique that we’ve not experienced before in technology?
Paul Galloway 27:30
And Rodney, any closing thoughts on that?
Rodney Nilson 27:32
I think echo what you, the panelists say. I mean, Bottomline delivers a lot of products and services to banks. I think that’s one industry, you’ll see consolidation, for example, but I maintain a lot of optimism that, you know, outside of banking, we’re gonna see a lot of growth, still, I think that the rate of change technology is just going to continue to trigger that growth.
Paul Galloway 27:49
Yeah, I tend to agree with that. I appreciate the comments, public private, I think it’s something to keep front of mind as technology continues to advance and capital continues to be deployed to invent the new things that we’re going to utilize down the road. We are going into our first speed round, and just a reminder, it’s going to be one or the other. You’ll state which one you pick, and then quick rationale as to why. So the first one is around API’s now, and in five years, as you think about this. Are API’s first, or is it all the above every connection method?
Craig Jeffery 28:30
Now it’s all of the above and five years, it’ll be API first, because there’ll be more widely available.
Todd Yoder 28:36
API’s, the streaming not so much in certain applications, but APIs.
Mitchell Thomas 28:42
Definitely API first. When you think about new deployments and new projects, they’re definitely looking at first the new technologies and then leaning on those older technologies just to kind of backfill where they may not be quite there yet.
Paul Galloway 28:54
And Rodney to close that out?
Rodney Nilson 28:56
In terms of where development focuses are going to be the next five years, I think it’s API first, I think the other channels are more mature. So I don’t think they’re going to be ignored. But when I think about where, for instance, bottom line is going to focus our efforts, our development efforts over the the immediate term, it really is going to be an API first position.
Paul Galloway 29:15
Great, thank you. Which do corporates have the most familiarity with and which will be more transformative, SaaS or PasS? Craig?
Craig Jeffery 29:24
More familiarity is definitely SaaS that’s been around for 20 years, even though we call it some different things. Definitely more familiarity with I think SaaS has transformed much of the world. I mean, you see the movement of ERPs into a SaaS world, but platform as a service will be more transformative. This is at scale, you know, massive big data computing that will have a bigger transformation than the move to the cloud.
Todd Yoder 29:48
You’re more familiar with SaaS, but I’ll take a pass on this question. No pun intended.
Paul Galloway 29:57
Mitchell Thomas 29:58
Yeah, I would have to, yeah, I think, you know, SaaS has got to be the more familiar, you know, technology because, you know, we’ve used it, you know, over the last 1015 years. But I would agree I think with with Craig, I think over the next, you know, future years, I think product as a service will definitely be more transformative to the market.
Paul Galloway 30:17
Rodney Nilson 30:19
No dissent here I think SaaS much more mature offering, I think much more familiarity and consumption. And certainly platform as a service pass, it’s going to be much more transformative over the next five years, because there isn’t mature adoption yet.
Craig Jeffery 30:33
And then you can start with someone else, move it the other way, or whatever. But I don’t mind going first, but.
Paul Galloway 30:37
You get one more first, and that’s it. Next one. Craig, this will be to you. Again, familiarity, transformative: API’s or streaming?
Craig Jeffery 30:50
API’s are definitely much more familiar, this idea of streaming or orchestrated workflows is is still fairly early in the IT world. And it’s certainly really new in the business world.
Todd Yoder 31:02
Yeah, I think it’s going to be API’s. I see a lot of benefits with streaming, but I still think, well streaming for real time. But API’s I mean, you’re gonna have didn’t like data lakes and, and, and whatnot. So you have the warehouses, but API is stronger, especially in the next five years.
Paul Galloway 31:20
Mitchell Thomas 31:22
I would have to agree, I think API’s are definitely stronger, going to be more transformative. I think it gives, you know, corporates, what they’ve been looking for, for a long time, the ability to be proactive about retrieving data.
Paul Galloway 31:32
And Rodney to close that out.
Rodney Nilson 31:34
Agreed. That’s sort of the on demand nature of API’s, I think, make it a much more favorable construct. Streaming is right, just a general broadcast. I think subscribing, that kind of general broadcast just means you really need to be able to consume and store the massive amounts of data. So I think the on demand access to the on demand nature of an API makes it a better technology for the next five years.
Paul Galloway 31:56
Great, thank you. Next one will be API for information reporting. When will it become dominant majority of banks and systems are utilizing it?
Rodney Nilson 32:07
I think that’s probably a five year horizon, I’d say. If I think about sort of timeframes, I think the next you know, year, two years really going to work through that standardization I talked about right really needs to happen so that it can become that we can see massive adoption, and then a couple years thereafter, so I put that sort of in the five year bucket is one I’d expect to see that become the dominant the dominant consumption channel.
Mitchell Thomas 32:28
Yeah, I’d go a little more aggressive, I’d say in two years, I think it’ll be the predominant method of connectivity. I think the big large global multinational banks are already there. As far as their information reporting API’s and things like that are concerned. And you know, that’s where most of the value is going to be derived as from your global partners, where you have, you know, the the most volume the most activity, so I think soon we’ll see that movement for a lot of companies to to API’s is the predominant method of connecting for information reporting.
Todd Yoder 32:58
Yeah, I was gonna say API’s, you mean, we’re not already there? API’s here, if you don’t have it, you know, the banks, and I know banks that don’t have it, but you don’t want to become the blockbuster. So they’re gonna have to step up the game really quick. I think that’s where fintechs that know API’s are gonna be extremely valuable partners, to the FIs and to everyone else.
Paul Galloway 33:19
So it sounds like we got a little diversity in thought here. Craig, what do you think?
Craig Jeffery 33:23
I would say the trillion dollar banks are pretty much there, we’re within a year of them having, you know, heavily built out and they’ll continue to build out as you move downstream from there, I think it’s going to push out to seven years, because you have to change your underlying operating system, your underlying banking system, which many are planning to do. And that’s a, you know, if they’re planning on doing it five years, you have to add a little bit of time before that change is so dominant within five years, but much more of a full build out and seven because the you know, as you get down to the under 100 billion dollar banks, they’re, they’re dependent on the platforms that they run on.
Paul Galloway 33:59
Great diversity of thought there. We’re going to move now into, which matters more, we’ll have four of these. This time, we’ll start with Mitch and work our way down towards Craig and with Rodney on the first one. Speed or information?
Mitchell Thomas 34:15
I’d have to go speed I think, you know, having the ability to have something on demand when you need it is critical to decision making. So it’s a tough one, but in my opinion, I think I’d have to go speed.
Paul Galloway 34:28
Todd Yoder 34:30
There’s not a right answer to that. But I’ll go with speed.
Paul Galloway 34:35
Craig Jeffery 34:36
I’ll go with information because that’s the that’s the content. That’s what makes things go. So 70/30.
Paul Galloway 34:42
One or the other, Craig.
Craig Jeffery 34:44
Rodney Nilson 34:46
Alright, let’s have a hung jury. Information. I agree. I think getting at the data, having the data is incrementally more important than than speed.
Paul Galloway 34:56
Outstanding. Next one is information or cost Then Todd, we’ll start with you.
Todd Yoder 35:01
If you’re worried about cost, you’re in trouble. So that’s got to be information. And I was gonna say accuracy on that last question. So accurate information.
Craig Jeffery 35:11
Yeah, I go with information too. That’s worth the extra cost. I mean, within reason, but certainly information.
Paul Galloway 35:16
Rodney Nilson 35:17
Information. Yeah, I agree. I think if if cost becomes the primary driver, you probably are solving for the wrong equation.
Paul Galloway 35:26
All right, great. This is definitely helpful. Mitch?
Mitchell Thomas 35:31
Consensus on this one. I’ll go with information too.
Paul Galloway 35:34
All righty, unanimous information. We’re gonna move on to the next one. And Craig, well, have you started on this one, it will be cost or visibility?
Craig Jeffery 35:45
Visibility is a form of information. So I’m going with visibility.
Rodney Nilson 35:48
Visibility. I agree. I again, I think that needs to be that needs to be the focus for organization be successful.
Paul Galloway 35:55
Mitchell Thomas 35:56
I see visibility is kind of a combination of information and speed. So it’s critically important.
Paul Galloway 36:02
Todd Yoder 36:02
Visibility. If you’re hung up on cost, you’ve got bigger problems. I mean, you’re playing defense you’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win and playing to be innovative. So, yeah, you can’t worry about costs.
Paul Galloway 36:15
Alrighty, great. Last one, we’ll start with Ronnie, we’re way down towards Craig. Flexibility or cost.
Rodney Nilson 36:23
Flexibility, I guess we’ve got a theme here. Again, it’s similar to the previous questions. I think flexibility is gonna be more important, if you don’t want to create a rigid infrastructure doesn’t allow you to grow and respond to opportunities.
Mitchell Thomas 36:37
It’s got to be flexibility. We’ve been in rigid infrastructures in treasury for way too long. I think the flexibility that API’s offer is going to be key to our growth going forward.
Paul Galloway 36:48
Todd Yoder 36:49
It’s not the strongest survive, it’s the most adaptive that survive. Flexibility, number one.
Paul Galloway 36:55
Craig Jeffery 36:56
It’s going to be consensus serve, if you think back, my view would be different maybe 10 years ago, where flexibility would be really, maybe 15 years ago, really expensive. Now it’s not. And it’s far better. And so it’s, the equations are too close. And so flexibility.
Paul Galloway 37:14
Oh great, cost didn’t win out on either of those three, we just went through. Got one last one, cost is not involved in this one. It’s scalability or flexibility, scalability or flexibility? And, Mitch, we’ll start with you.
Mitchell Thomas 37:31
I think scalability is going to be key, because you’ve got to have something that’s not just usable today. But it’s also usable, you know, as the company scales. So I think that’s, you know, slightly more important than flexibility.
Todd Yoder 37:45
Yes, I would say scalability, like, Craig made a great point, with with all the new innovation and the new, it’s a lot more easy to be flexible. So scalability is must have,
Craig Jeffery 37:58
I’m gonna go flexibility because we need to be able to adapt, and just hope that doesn’t mean that there’s no scalability whatsoever. So I’ll go with flexibility. Because we need that for analytics, and just to be different.
Paul Galloway 38:10
And close that out, Rodney.
Rodney Nilson 38:12
I let Craig be different then. I’m gonna go with scalability. If one’s at the cost of the other, I think you need to be able to scale, right? If you have a solution that doesn’t get to the right scale, how valuable really is it? So again, if I’ve got to be, you know, put in a corner, it’s going to be scalability over flexibility.
Paul Galloway 38:28
Well, that was a great speed round. We had some similarity thoughts, and we had some diversity in thoughts. So that was a nice speed round. We got one more coming up in a little bit. But we’re gonna move now to newer tech. And talk about API’s and embedded payments for API’s. What is happening with API adoption? Is this vaporware? Is it progress in the right direction? will soon take over the space fully. What are your thoughts on this? And Mitch, we’ll start with you.
Mitchell Thomas 39:07
Yeah, I think when it comes to API’s for payments, you know, it’s definitely here. And it’s now so as far as where it sits in the market, and how mature obviously, API’s are built for one off payments prime primarily. But we will see in the future where those bolt payments and things like that we’ve already got banks and things like that, that are building out their bulk payment API’s to be able to take, you know, these huge volumes and things like that, that we’re seeing across organizations. So API’s are critically important when we think about these new payment rails that are being offered like real time payments and things like that, that just don’t make sense. In a file based world. Why would you even leverage a real time payment if you’re then writing a file out to disk that then has to be moved across servers. It’s no longer real time the true value of the real time payment is knowing that your recipient has received those funds. The second that You push that button to send them. So that level of confidence that the real time rails, the API rails offer is something that, you know, we’ve kind of been clamoring for for a long time, timeliness certainty of payments that in a file base world we just can’t truly achieve.
Paul Galloway 40:18
Thank you. Craig, thoughts on that?
Craig Jeffery 40:20
So API adoption is is is good. It’s usually when we take a lot of surveys and do a lot of research. Usually, there’s a pretty heavy discount of what people plan to do, and plan to adopt. And API’s are well ahead of the adoption level that corporations expected. They expected to use it at a certain level within two years, and within a year, they had surpassed the two year mark. We don’t see that these besides machine learning keeps up with it. Ai API’s have have surpassed it. So it’s not vaporware. It’s usually being delivered through systems that are incorporated. So people are turning on functionality, just like an app on your phone. Their turnout, so it’s not vaporware. It takes a while for technology to move through the funnel. But definitely not vaporware.
Rodney Nilson 41:08
I would agree I don’t think it’s vaporware at all. I think it’s definitely progress and right direction. I think of the same the same rationale that Craig just mentioned, I think that the legacy technology that doesn’t take advantage of those API’s is going to stem or, you know, stunt some of the adoption, but I think it’s we’re on an inevitable path, I expect us to get there.
Paul Galloway 41:29
And Todd, close that one out.
Todd Yoder 41:31
So the super app, and embedded finance and all the, you know, business opportunities that that brings, I think API’s I mean, it’s it’s a must, a must have and must utilize technology.
Craig Jeffery 41:44
And just one more thing on the embedded app as you brought up the super apps. And if we look at where do people want to do business and transact embedded API’s, I need the information where I need it. I want to transact where it’s most convenient. So it’s not always within an ERP. It’s not always within a DMS, it’s wherever I’m where I’m ever I’m working to do it. And just like getting out of the ride share, you don’t care about the settlement and the payment and the receipt, it should become less, and the experience or the activity becomes more. And I think that’s that’s where things are heading. It’s why are we talking about payments so much? It should be seamless and minimal. And if we can do that, then we’ve done we’ve achieved quite a bit.
Paul Galloway 42:28
Craig, you clearly don’t care about your receipts anymore, do you?
Craig Jeffery 42:32
It’s gotten a lot better, because I lost so many receipts, I would get in much much trouble with the accounting.
Paul Galloway 42:38
Excellent. appreciate the comments on that. Next question is open banking, API, embedded treasury. How will embedded treasury payments unfold over time? Over what timeframe? When we think about this, we’re gonna think about reporting and payments, reporting and payments. This one, we’ll start out with Rodney.
Rodney Nilson 43:02
In terms of timeline for adoption, or mainstream adoption, I think we’ll see a much shorter ramp on the on the information reporting piece, I just think, you know, whether it be you know, visibility into, you know, account balances transaction activity, that’s a an immediate pressing need, I think the convenience of experience in terms of embedded payments is certainly going to be a driver and motivator, I just think there’s some more complexity there, that’s going to put that on a longer horizon. So you know, I’d venture you know, again, within within five years, we’ll see API consumption for transactional information reporting, to become the dominant, you know, the dominant consumption channel, I’d expect near two to three years thereafter, the dominant consumption channel for for payments.
Mitchell Thomas 43:42
I think the open banking API’s are not necessarily, you know, applicable to this group, particularly, they’re, they’re more directed towards, you know, consumer use cases. And in a lot of ways that’s somewhat stunted the development of, you know, API’s for some of the large European banks, because ultimately, they had to spend time on regulated API’s that they had to adhere to, in a timely fashion. So I think I agree with Ronnie, I think from an information reporting API perspective, even those banks have caught up as far as their offerings for premium corporate API’s for for balance and transaction information that Treasury can use independent of the rest of the organization, and then allow the rest of the organization to figure out how they’re going to leverage that real time data, whether it’s for real time reconciliation, some kind of forecasting FP&A, whatever it may be, and then you know, the payments is a little bit more challenging to kind of unwrap because there’s so many different parts of the organization that leverage payments and being able to migrate whole hog from these other file based instructions that they’re sending from multiple different locations that it is maintaining and in a lot of cases, band aiding together migrating those two API’s. payments from all that disparate, you know, system infrastructure that you’ve got is challenging. So that’s where, you know, we see a lot of people that are taking a very, you know, start small, and then grow with the solution approach, starting with, you know, really reporting, integrating that. And then integrating small scale payments across the organization gradually, because, you know, a lot of your your major global banks, particularly those in the US and Asia, have, you know, fully baked payment offerings as far as the API that gives you, you know, real time, acknowledgments real time response information, payment tracking, and things like that, that are, you know, innovative in treasury. So.
Paul Galloway 45:44
Craig Jeffery 45:46
Couple thoughts on on that based on the conversation, you know, what’s the what’s going on with API’s globally, if you look at the US and Europe, it outstrips the US heavily, you know, it used to be we were only embarrassed about how many checks we had. But we’re falling behind on the API front, which is an embarrassment that we’re at the AFP in Philadelphia, and we’re behind there. And so we can catch up. We’re also behind on the faster payment schemes, if you look at just looking at the UK, again, they’re, you know, they at higher volume than we do for same day, Ach, a country that’s almost five times as large. So we have some ketchup to do. But we can see where the path is the adoption of tech, and some of our European and Asian colleagues what they’re doing. So a lot of room to grow information reporting and payments, the API use is going to push these along faster. And we have we have a template of where we need to be.
Paul Galloway 46:39
Todd, closing thoughts on that?
Todd Yoder 46:41
Yeah, so I’ve had just last night, some great conversations with some bankers that are, so I would say the banks, we may not know it, but they’re, they’re out there. And they’re working hard on this very thing. So again, I think it comes back to are we talking about the near side or the far side. And I think that’s where the near side is a lot of opportunities for all of these fintechs that we’re used to working with. On the far side, I think that’s where the banks want to play in those payment rails and distributed ledger technology, aka blockchain is around $16 trillion worth of flow in 2021. So it’s not the biggest obviously, but it’s developing rapidly in the payment space. So I think if we’re talking about the near side, it’s really going to be multi channel, but we won’t see it, we’ll see. There’ll be multi channel multi payment rails on on the far side.
Paul Galloway 47:41
Great, thank you. We are to our final speed round, and then we’ll have some closing remarks. So we’re almost done. Almost at the end of the hour as well, you must make a choice one or the other, and stay while you choose that. First one is fraud detection, what will be the bigger risk over the next three years, and we’ll start this time with running and work our way down. Diversion or email compromise?
Rodney Nilson 48:07
I would say diversion is going to be a bigger, a bigger impact on on recent fraud. I think it’s a broader construct than just email compromise. So I see it having a broader impact.
Mitchell Thomas 48:16
Email compromise, ultimately, cause I think just the number of users and things like that, that you’ve got to worry about and monitor is large, and a lot of those people are not actively monitoring those email addresses and those email inboxes. So I think just given the, the user base, I think the email is a bigger risk.
Paul Galloway 48:37
Todd Yoder 48:38
Both but I’ll say diversion, just because I think we’ve done a lot of education. And we put a lot of safeguards in on the emails. I mean, that doesn’t guarantee anything, but really I don’t think there’s a right answer.
Craig Jeffery 48:52
I’m gonna go with payment diversion, redirected payments through any method, largely because the categorical structure that our first panelist said that was pretty convincing to me.
Paul Galloway 49:03
Okay, next one is email compromise or social engineering. Rodney?
Rodney Nilson 49:08
In comparing those two, I would say email compromise. I think it just because of its use it’s commonality. I think there’s a greater likelihood that could be cause for for risk of the next five years and just so fluorishing itself.
Paul Galloway 49:19
Mitchell Thomas 49:20
To go with the same as somewhat of a personal answer. I recently got an email attack. So, it was unsuccessful, but still.
Paul Galloway 49:29
Todd Yoder 49:30
I probably want to, yeah, I’ll go with email. I mean, I’ve recently got emails from our CEO about making payments to my work email, and then I also got to my personal email from our CEO. And they’re very convincing.
Paul Galloway 49:45
Craig Jeffery 49:46
Generally, I’d say business email compromise as well. We were into this so heavily for so long, and it’s not letting up. They’re just getting more and more sophisticated. Defenses are definitely picking up. Well. I’ll stop there.
Paul Galloway 49:59
All right, next one is social engineering or ransomware. Ronnie?
Rodney Nilson 50:04
Comparing those two, I think ransomware will be the bigger the bigger threat of the next five years. You just continue to see more and more sophistication from from fraudsters out there. The landscape is, you know, as fast as technology changes, fraud and risk changes. So I think ransomware is what we’re gonna see. And again, comparing those two, I think ransomware is the bigger risk of next five years.
Mitchell Thomas 50:25
Yeah, I would agree. I think ransomware the people that are designing those are, you know, some pretty smart individuals the way that they do it. So I think, you know, as long as there’s payoff on their end, they’re going to continue to, to kind of innovate on that side. And we’re just going to have to get better at informing you know, our internal resources and trying to protect against as best we can.
Paul Galloway 50:46
Todd Yoder 50:48
So only God knows how much ransomware has cost us. Definitely ransomware.
Craig Jeffery 50:55
I’m not gonna say I was multitasking, or I couldn’t hear you across the Zoom meeting. But what was what was the other one besides ransomware?
Paul Galloway 51:01
Craig Jeffery 51:03
Ransomware? Yeah. Ransomware.
Paul Galloway 51:06
Last one in this series is vendor fraud or wire fraud? And Rodney?
Rodney Nilson 51:12
Vendor fraud, I think will be will be a bigger risk over the next five years more ubiquitous, right, not all vendor payments are going to be a wire. So I think it’s sort of a volume play. Right. I think that’s where you’re gonna see more risk, just because there’s more volume.
Paul Galloway 51:25
Mitchell Thomas 51:26
Yeah, I think that the vendor fraud just because it’s so hard to control. I mean, you’re processing 1000s of invoices as they come in. So being able to sort out which are real and which are, you know, potentially fraudulent is it’s a Herculean task.
Paul Galloway 51:41
Todd Yoder 51:42
Craig Jeffery 51:44
So I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go with the vendor fraud for number of transactions, but wire fraud, for total value lost, just because of the vendor fraud has significant payments. But when you can get access to a system and send payments. That’s where I think our biggest exposure is gaining access to systems to do that, not the vendor change. So I know that’s a hedge, but it’s vendor for count, wire for value.
Paul Galloway 52:11
Craig Jeffery 52:12
You like that? They want to make some adjustments to their comment.
Rodney Nilson 52:15
I just want to play by the rules that you should answer two.
Paul Galloway 52:18
He did answer two. It’s one or the other, right?
Craig Jeffery 52:22
Wire fraud, because I’m about amount.
Paul Galloway 52:25
All right, Craig. Now we’re on our last question. What will impact treasury operations compliance the most over the next five years: KYC or Dodd Frank? And Craig, we’ll start with you and work our way down this way.
Craig Jeffery 52:37
KYC because 60%, at least 60% of people identify that is a major issue and headache compared to the the other ones which were under 20%. So I’m going with the popular count there.
Paul Galloway 52:49
Todd Yoder 52:51
KYC, but not know your customer, it’ll be KYC, know your counterparty, especially with distributed ledger technology and blockchain and those. Yeah, it’ll be know your counterparty because that’s where a lot of people have lost a lot of money already, by not understanding the counterparty risk,
Mitchell Thomas 53:10
I think the KYC documentation because we see a number of wants and needs as far as in the eBAM space. And in order to really facilitate those kind of real time, eBAM communications, you’ve got to have a really robust way to store your KYC documentation.
Paul Galloway 53:26
Rodney Nilson 53:26
I’d also say KYC. Again, that just it’s more prevalent, I think dynamics, it’s gonna be more impactful.
Paul Galloway 53:33
All right, next one is FBAR or basil three or four?
Craig Jeffery 53:36
I’ll go with a capital adequacy issue because it’s more related to liquidity. FBAR has been around for a while people are slowly getting their hands on that. So capital adequacy.
Todd Yoder 53:46
Basil, three or four, three or four just collateral in general with the way the economy is going right now and the Euro dollar system, which is US dollars offshore, not euros but US Dollars offshore, just the total lack of a grasp of what m two.
Paul Galloway 54:07
Mitchell Thomas 54:08
Yeah, Basil three.
Paul Galloway 54:11
And Rodney, close this one out.
Rodney Nilson 54:12
Would also agree. Basil three and four. I think there’s broader implications. Outstanding. We got two left here. Next one, Craig. PCI DSS or GDPR?
Craig Jeffery 54:24
PCI DSS, the payment security programs, whether it’s because it’s related to payments versus, you know, email and permissioning.
Mitchell Thomas 54:32
I have to answer payment security. I think it’s core to what I do on a daily basis and I think there’s critical value there.
Paul Galloway 54:39
Rodney Nilson 54:41
Would agree the implications of payments are they make PCI DSS the bigger the bigger variable.
Paul Galloway 54:46
Okay, we came to our very last one though. OFAC sanctions or FATCA.
Craig Jeffery 54:52
I think FATCA because it’s much harder to get compliance there. And OFAC is easier to implement, is becoming easier implement as you streamline and consolidate your activity.
Paul Galloway 55:03
Mitchell Thomas 55:04
I think FACTA because for the reasons kind of Craig pointed out. OFAC, I think we’ve got pretty robust engines as far as being able to check fairly dynamically. And I think with the world environment as it sits today, and potentially those regulations potentially being fluid and changing periodically, I think being able to keep up with knowing that you’re in compliance and being able to kind of check those things with some of the technologies we’ve been talking about today. So being able to, on demand, go out and make sure that you’re in compliance, I think it’s important.
Paul Galloway 55:39
Rodney Nilson 55:40
Being in the US, I think OFAC will be a bigger dynamic here for us in the US.
Paul Galloway 55:44
Well, I want to thank you all very much for being on the panel. I’ll give you a minute here for any closing thoughts, if any of you have any closing thoughts? If not, I thank you very much.
Craig Jeffery 55:55
Yeah, thanks, I’ll start I know, everybody’s got something to say I hope everybody has some of that say. You know, the idea that, you know, we continue to shift in technology, and make jumps, leaping over the chasm in different areas with compute, information, how we, how we operate, there’s so many things that are going on now, it’s that idea of figuring out where where we’re going and making sure every move you take moves you in the direction of the newer tech is vital for efficient treasury operations, you know, managing the risk profiles that we have. I don’t think there’s been a more important time to pay attention to these changes, because they’re changing in almost every single sector of tech. And so since we’re talking about treasury tech, that would be my charge and challenge to stay current.
Todd Yoder 56:47
Yeah, I would say stay current is mission number one. What I’m really interested in right now is really the web three. So like Craig was talking about earlier, you know, it’s easy to and I’ve set up a data lake too, and bring in tech, but again, we’re. Did you mentioned the Amazon, web?
Craig Jeffery 57:06
Todd Yoder 57:07
Oh, Azure. But, again, we’re talking about data centers and servers that big companies own. So as web three comes on, and you have your data, and it’s all encrypted and secured, but it’s a distributed, decentralized. So it isn’t one single big monster company that owns the, the servers that your data resides on, it’s a decentralized and so that I think will come on a lot faster than what we realize. And it’ll be very interesting to put a spin on things.
Mitchell Thomas 57:41
I guess I’d like to applaud everybody for coming here, coming to AFP, and continuing to kind of educate yourself on new technologies. And, you know, to continue to do that throughout this, you know, next couple of days and go out and talk to people about these new technologies that you can really leverage in your day to day because it’s one of those things, you don’t have to do it, you know, large scale out of the gates, it’s something you can start, you know, very small, because, you know, there’s, you know, from what we’ve seen, there’s definitely benefits to being early adopters from a cost perspective. You know, your, your banking partners are looking for people to leverage these API’s and really start to see some of the value out of what they’ve invested a mountain of money. And so it’s one of those things that, you know, if you start small start today, you can get in at the ground floor, and, you know, even potentially have some impact on, you know, how the banks are providing this information.
Rodney Nilson 58:37
Yeah, I would just say, really exciting times in front of us. You know, you asked, you know, what was maybe the single biggest, you know, trigger technology? It’s, you know, I think about it, you know, take the question that you know, think about the combination of the all the technology changes that are in place are in play here over the next several years with the API’s, machine learning, cloud computing. I think the combination of all those technologies is gonna is just going to make for incredibly interesting innovation that simplifies you know, what a treasurer needs to do. So I think it’s really exciting times in front of us.
Paul Galloway 59:07
Well, I’ll stand in comments. I want to thank all you for coming here to listen to our panelists today. I hope you walk away with some things to think about and consider. And thank you. Thank you very much.
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