The Treasury Update Podcast by Strategic Treasurer

Episode 232

Are Payments Getting Safer or Faster?
Fintech Hotseat Panel Discussion

Live from Philadelphia, PA, at AFP 2022, Strategic Treasurer is proud to present our Fintech Hotseat panel discussion on the Future of Treasury Payments. This session put experts from leading payment companies into the hotseat with questions such as the following:

  • What is the power of a network like SWIFT?
  • Regarding payments: what is more important, information or cost?
  • When will banks universally adopt APIs?

Want to watch the video version? Click here.


Craig Jeffery of Strategic Treasurer, LLC



Ankush Gupta of Mastercard

Bob Stark of Kyriba

Mark O’Toole of Fides

Michelle St. Rose of Corpay

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Episode Transcription - Episode #232 - Are Payments Getting Safer or Faster - Fintech Hotseat Panel Discussion

Announcer  00:04

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 the second podcast from our time at the 2022 AFP conference, we’ll hear from Craig Jeffery and our four panelists on the future of treasury payments. This discussion centered around the massive new changes in payments, from new payment rails and types to security threats and solutions. We hope you’re able to take away a few new ideas from this podcast. And with that, I’ll hand the show over to our moderator Craig Jeffery.


Craig Jeffery  00:44

Yeah, thanks, everyone. We’re excited about this. If you’re here in the room, or if you’re watching on YouTube, the future of treasury payments, the future of payments is extremely important topic payments, power commerce, they make life work much easier. Trading pelts is terrible. Being able to make commerce happen digitally is is awesome. There’s a massive amount of change in payments, there’s new payment rails, new payment types, greater threats on payments security. We have a great panel here, there’s a lot to discuss. And we’re happy to put them on the hot seat. But before I begin, or before we begin, the discussion will begin with short introductions of each person could introduce themselves, their their name, company, what they do with payments. Let’s begin with Ankush.


Ankush Gupta  01:31

My name is Ankush Gupta. I work for MasterCard, I lead the North America commercial product platforms and acceptance business. Been with MasterCard five plus years came from the travel industry. Just really excited to partner with you, Craig and team, we’ve co sponsored research together on virtual card acceptance and that business and how its transformed and what folks are seeing post pandemic. So just really excited to be here as a follow up to that. So thank you, Craig, for having us.


Bob Stark  01:57

Thank you very much and good morning. My name is Bob Stark and Global Head of Market Strategy for Kyriba.  We’re an enterprise liquidity management solution focused on treasury connectivity, payments, risk management, and working capital.  So many things that are very important at this AFP conference.


Mark O’Toole  02:13

Hi, everybody, my name is Mark O’Toole. I work with Fides I head up their sales and partnerships here in the Americas. Fides is one of the largest multi bank connectors or connectivity platforms in the world. Essentially, we act as the rails between your bank or many banks and accounts into whatever platform you want to send it to. So we’re very happy to be here, Craig, thank you. The last time I had to manage to do a FinTech Hotseat. It was pre COVID. So it’s great to be back, back with you guys again.


Michelle St. Rose  02:45

And good morning, everyone. I am Michelle St. Rose, I work for Corpay. We provide a payment solution for many companies here in the United States. I serve as a Solutions Consultant helping companies go from the manual process over to automation.


Craig Jeffery  03:03

Great, thanks. Well, let’s get started, we have a number of question areas that we’re going to go through and discuss. We even have a couple of speed rounds. So you’ll hear what we do with speed rounds when we get to them. So puts them on the spot they’ve got to answer quickly. So let’s begin with newer technology, API’s and embedded payments. Are they? Are they just hype? Are they? Is it hyperbole with that? What are they saying about that? What about new payment types in embedded payments, putting payments into different systems where you’re doing business? I’m gonna begin. I’ll just mix it up. I’ll start with you, Bob, this time we’re gonna go down to the end. And then back to Ankush as we as we wrap the panel. But API, what’s happening with API adoption? Is this vaporware? Is this progress in the right direction? Is this going to take over the space fully at some point? So we’re talking about API’s, you can talk a little bit about information reporting if you want, but it’s really focused on payments. And if I ask you guys any questions, you don’t want to ask answer. Just say pass. That’s perfectly fine. So Bob, let’s, let’s go.


Bob Stark  04:08

Alright, well, I won’t say pass. No, I think API’s are they’re a fantastic innovation. And they will do a lot of things beyond payments, but specifically for payments. It’s the ability to have instant or real time payments between systems and from systems to bank and obviously, all the different uses from there. I see the proliferation of API’s is probably the biggest conduit in treasury and finance. It is the necessity to make everything else work in real time and instantly, without them none of that happens. So API’s big thumbs up for me in terms of the next and it’s the next is it’s not years away. I mean, we’re it’s now and 12 months from now, it’s not even probably that big a conversation because it’d be much more advanced than we are today.


Mark O’Toole  04:56

I would bifurcate or differentiate between you know where the ubiquitous of API’s in the b2c sense is is pervasive, and that’s great. We’re a bit behind the curve, I think when it comes to innovation around API’s. And when we talk about connectivity, for example.  We would have, you know, the demand exceeds supply in the sense that, you know, there’s a lot of a lot of talk around API’s, and a lot of people want to engage with API’s in terms of bank bank balance reporting, and or the payment side, inside a corporate treasury, for example. And I think the challenge there is that not every bank has an API just yet. So you know, which, which is, in some respects, good for firms like us, because we sort of can expand our payment options and our bank connectivity options, and we’re not solely reliant on on the gap for that, Sharan today. And I think the API is for sure, is just going to start to move downhill into the top part of the organization, and provide a lot of options there. I guess it’s a question of timing, and standards, and all sorts of things. So I think we have a bit of a ways to go. But it’s going that way. For sure.


Michelle St. Rose  06:00

Yeah, I agree. API’s are going to be adopted full force in about two years. To me, it’s a testament to see how long it really takes new process to really evolve and gain the confidence of users. So it’s really going to take off two, three years, I think it’s going to build the confidence, it’s going to make our providers more profitable, and our users more confident.


Craig Jeffery  06:25

All right, Ankush, do we have any disagreement here or our coverage?


Ankush Gupta  06:29

No, I think it’ll likely follow to what Michelle, Bob, and Mark are saying. But I think the general theme is that it’s progress in the right direction, but a lot more work to be to be done. And I think there’s a couple of factors around it, I mean, that we see at MasterCard, but broadly in the industry. So the standards are still being developed for API’s, making them externally available, making them easy for developers to access, you know, culture shifts are happening or need to continue to happen towards hiring engineers hiring product and engineering talent that’s able to speak the language of API’s. And then of course, the support around it needs to be fully more fully developed. Right? So we all agree this is moving in the right direction, and it’s moving towards being API, many banks and and payment firms are moving to API first. But following that culture shift to make sure that we are hiring the right folks, we’ve got the right support around it with our product delivery people implementation people is critical for that. Because you often see like, you know, studies show that banks feel like they’re at 50 to 60% maturity when it comes to API development. And we need that to be a much greater number and a much sooner timeframe. And so we expect to see that proliferate, but more to be done.


Craig Jeffery  07:37

Yeah, so we’ve heard over time, two years, one year, you know, when we think about API’s one thing on the the Europe versus North America front, you know, we look at, we have checks in America.  Sorry, for those international like, we still like our paper, we image it, we send it around really quickly. And it’s embarrassing, you know, you get a conference, you’re like, why do you guys still have paper? On the API front? Europe is ahead of North America, whether it’s due to PSD2, or otherwise, I guess the question is, when we think about widespread adoption, with API’s for payments on banks, I don’t know the is there, like 50, 50,000 banks in the world that are above a certain size? How many of them have API’s now, I mean, the trillion dollar banks do, some of the next level.  When will it get down to its, you know, 80% of banks have API’s? When will that be universal adoption?


Ankush Gupta  08:29

We’ve seen at least at MasterCard research that shows that 80% of international banks feel like we’re moving in that direction in the next two to three years. But it drops significantly to 10, 15%. When you think of community banks and credit banks and such. So there’s a lot to be done. But the big banks globally are leading the way. And we’re seeing the rest follow. It’s a question of timing. It’s a question of resourcing. It’s a question of building that culture change internally. Say, Yes, API. First, embedded payments is the future and calibrating the companies around it. The other thing I think that we see an accelerant for is the use cases for embedded payments and API’s, right? So you we all know, like in our firm as well that use cases drive adoption and drive priority internally from a resource standpoint. And we see for embedded payments, you know, areas like buy now pay later, b2b marketplaces, and food delivery and gig economy. All these things that are very prevalent in our society now are pushing the banks to focus on these use cases, to drive embedded payments and to make API first sort of the cultural norm at their companies.


Craig Jeffery  09:35

Great, thanks. Who else? Anybody else?


Bob Stark  09:37

I found it interesting. The 50,000. I’ll actually temper that down in terms of from a b2b standpoint. In our experience, we connect with 1000 different banks on behalf of all of our customers. Of those 1000 banks we’re seeing south of 10% in terms of having some significant API adoption.  I know adoption can be it’s subjective, but in terms of development programs, we’re seeing less than 100 that have a project and much less than that that actually are live and available to use, like for customers in a b2b sense. I mean, from payments standpoint that supported instant payments or real time here in the States, looking at balance reporting and other things we won’t talk about in this session, but just having those use cases, as we spoke about, and it’ll evolve, like, I like the answer around two years, I think one to two years from now, we’ll see measurable progress because the point I mean, you made this point a second ago, the demand.  The demand, is there, the interest in use cases. I mean, we’re recording this at the AFP conference, I did this session yesterday on, do I need RTP? Guess what the answer was? Yes. Now, they didn’t necessarily know exactly why they needed it. So I think there’s some evolution in terms of what that demand looks like. But definitely the interest is there. And it’s just a matter of having the supply. Having those roadmaps evolve a little bit further, having API support maybe more than just real time payments, but actually supporting the entire payment landscape so that an organization from your ERP or treasury system can send a file, have that split out into all of the different payment rails that they’re looking to, to utilize. So there’s, there’s evolution, it’s not just instant payments, which I think a lot of people equate API’s with, it’s the opportunity to change your entire payment process.


Michelle St. Rose  11:23

I agree, I think the masses are waiting for API to explode. But again, they’re waiting for the confidence in the style of how it’s happening, right? You mentioned, the timing and the confidence of all the users and all the banks, the small businesses are going to wait for you guys first, right? This is what my clients and the prospects are saying that we’re gonna wait to see what happens to you, because they don’t want to be the guinea pig, but they are waiting for it. So, hurry up.


Mark O’Toole  11:53

You made the difference between Europe and everywhere else. I mean, it’s driven by regulation in Europe, the whole initiative around open banking. But the adoption, I think, has been, you know, people have self assess themselves to the bigger banks to sort of lead with those API initiatives. But I mean, the hints for any bank is if they don’t have a digital officer, or chief digital officer, or some position inside that organization, gives you a hint as to where’s the directional view of the bank? And how are they leading on that? But I certainly think, broadly, I think we can all agree that if the banks don’t get on board with an API Initiative, or some sort of initiative, you know, they’re going to be displaced. Because there’s this whole movement around embedded finance. And it’s not just the banks anymore. So to stay in the game, I think you got to leap forward and create those sorts of API’s and whatnot.


Craig Jeffery  12:40

Are fintechs ahead of banks on this front, generally?


Mark O’Toole  12:45

Yeah, I believe they are. I mean, it’s no secret that if you think of, you know, banking infrastructure, and the it within the banks over the last 20, 30 years, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation there.  That started to change in, in around I think, you know, 2017, you know, talk of API’s and blockchain and just all these new initiatives that were impacting what the banks do, and it got that conversation started where within the banks, they said, We need to upgrade. So you’re seeing a lot more banks reaching out and teaming up with fintechs. I think all of us here, involved with some banks are many banks. They’re, you know, how do I get there? And how do I get there fast? And how do I stay relevant within that, and so teaming up with and partnering with fintechs is one one way to do it. But also within the banks. I mean, if you take JP Morgan, for example, the people that lead all those digital efforts are all x startup guys in hot FinTech firms. And so the culture and the mind shift within how they view technology, and stay relevant within the, you know, within the ecosystem, I think is growing.


Ankush Gupta  13:48

Yeah, the other thing I would add to that, I think the culture shift is super important. I think we and that’s how we started. One of the things that we’re very focused on is end to end connectivity between the accounts payable and the accounts receivable, side and our when we think about our commercial payments, business, and a lot of that happens via fintechs and API’s.  A number of the of our bank partners leverage a lot of our solutions, a lot of our products. But if they want a more automated solution for accounts payable or leveraging our plan, they’re going to a fintech that’s API first. And so a lot of the ways that we bring the industry from a more manual, more manual processes, both on the AP and the AR side, is through partnering with fintechs to make that end to end payment experience much smoother and much more automated. And it’s driven by API first, and it’s largely driven by fintechs, partnering with us and with with their bank partners.


Craig Jeffery  14:40

So going off script just a little bit we, you know, we’ve heard, we’ve heard what each of you have said about the adoption of API’s, and you know, the pickup by banks, we’ve also listened. We know how important payments are, but it sounds like when we moved to embedded payments, we’re trying to disappear the actual payment experience, we want it to like, fade into the background. Just like ride share. It’s like you get out of the cab, there’s no fumbling with money. You want it to disappear, we’re doing more payments, it’s more important, we need more information and more speed. Are we trying to disappear them? Like better payments means invisible payment.? Is that Is that what we’re shooting for?


Mark O’Toole  15:20

I think it’s, we’re providing that frictionless experience. You know, in the same way, you know, everybody has a smartphone today. It’s intuitive, it’s user friendly, you swipe around, everything’s sort of one click. So you’re you’re making that and experience just frictionless in a way. And I think the sauce and the stuff that happens behind the scenes continues, and how that happens will be sort of a simpler process. But I think you know, this one click, ease of use frictionless experiences, what’s driving that and I think that’s just going to increase everywhere.


Bob Stark  15:51

I wouldn’t say disappear. I mean, I get the direction you’re going with that.  I would use simplification, which is similar to what Mark saying.  If you think of just the basic process of having a request for payment built into an email or other sorts of digital message, text as an example, then all you’re doing is just making it easier for them to pay you. And to me, that’s always been the driver for real time payments. It’s not like, no treasurer in this conference says I’d really like to pay more quickly. They’re drawn to do that. And a lot of times it’s going to be from the receivable side. So do I want to get paid more quickly? Yes, I do. I mean, everyone wants to accelerate DSO, if you’re in a b2c environment, maybe it’s to instigate late payers and just kind of make them pay a little quicker, make it simpler and easier for that action to happen. So I think a lot drives from the receivables. And the simplification of how can I get my money paid to me more easily. And I’ll go back to that word simplification, whatever makes it easier for that payment to happen is going to generally equate with a quicker payment and an accelerated receivable, which is what from a going back to cash and treasury, we want that cash lifecycle to go faster. That velocity of money, we need that in treasury to be quicker.


Michelle St. Rose  17:12

I just think embedded payments is going to be a good step, but it won’t be making payments invisible.  It will help in certain verticals of finance, like legal and CRMs. And embedded payments will make that process happen that much quicker. The simplicity around it and the visibility that it will give the pace is going to be great, but three to five years after API.


Craig Jeffery  17:38

Alright, so I’m betting that.  And then one final item on this.  Bob, you talked about some of the numbers, I was thinking of the Pareto Principle, everyone thinks of 20, 20% does 80% of volume. That is not the case in banks, if you got the the top 20 banks in the world, that’s going to be a significant percentage, what percentage what number of banks need to be API capable for you to consider it to be adopted? Well adopted on the way.  It’s going to take a long time for all banks to move to API’s? Can I pin you down to number and I’d love to hear what people think. So when we look at this, we look at this recording in two years, where where were we, where do we hit, and where how accurate were you guys?


Bob Stark  18:17

The way that the industry is structured, and I’ll just look at global institutions, there’s a number of large institutions.  Like I threw a number of 1000 banks across our 2500 customers, we connect to 1000 banks on their behalf. So it’s fairly centralized, given the universe of banking institutions, of that a certain element are really big. And then there’s ones that are relatively smaller. I think that 20% To use your example, once you hit those, that 200 mark, where you actually see use cases like live not just we’re thinking about an API project, or we’d like you to test this because we have an idea that we think might be interesting, or we want to follow what your peers are doing. It’s you hit that 20% of those large corporate banks, and the rest will follow. I think that is the tipping point here.


Craig Jeffery  19:07

Excellent. Anybody else have anything. So he said 200, 200 banks, which is probably going to be at least 80% of payments. Anybody else?


Mark O’Toole  19:14

From Fides perspective, I mean, we’re connected to over 13,500 banks. And certainly we’re not hearing enough noise around everybody getting on board with an API outside of the bigger banks and some of the regional ones here, specifically, but you know, I think I’ll go with Bob on that. I’ll you know that ear to the ground, adoption, greater adoption.


Craig Jeffery  19:35

Thanks, everyone on the panel. But this moves us to our first speed round. So here’s here’s the rules for the speed round. You have to give the answer. First, you have to make a decision. You can’t say there’s two schools of thought to this and I subscribe to both of them. You have to pick one, you can give an explanation and explain why you picked one over the other. But you have to start with the answer. If I if I ask you something you don’t want to answer. You just say Pass. And that’s, that’s fine. So we’re going to go through go through this.  So quick answers, and quick explanations following those answers. So we’ll begin with payment growth. We’ll begin with Bob and move down in the same order down to Michelle, and then and then back to Ankush. So, first one is payment growth, payments, growing payments are growing very rapidly. Do you see payments growing over the next five years? At two times a general growth rate, more or less?


Bob Stark  20:28

I was gonna say two times sounds like a pretty good number. But I’ll have to I’ll just say yes to go just a little bit above that.


Mark O’Toole  20:35



Michelle St. Rose  20:36



Craig Jeffery  20:37

Any other answers? Any other details on that? The two of you?


Bob Stark  20:42

Two times, yes.


Craig Jeffery  20:44

No. You gave it you gave an explanation. I meant I meant Mark and Michelle. I’ll try to be more specific.


Mark O’Toole  20:52

Setting aside, you know, the economy and inflation and all those things today, it’s just more ways to pay for things in different ways in this embedded finance, and usage is, will contributed to that.


Craig Jeffery  21:04

Okay, Michelle, anything.


Michelle St. Rose  21:05

Again, I’m gonna stress user adoption, it’s just gonna keep growing and growing.  The better the technology gets, the more use you have. So it’s definitely going to two times two or three times.


Craig Jeffery  21:16

Okay, so we got three, three yeses, any divergence from that?


Ankush Gupta  21:19

Now, I’m gonna go with more than two times as well, I think the only thing I’ll add to the discussion is for it’ll happen with, I think, in pockets of b2b payments, specifically. So the virtual card expansion, real time payments expansion, and stuff are going to be significant growth drivers, especially as we see trends towards digitization of payments.  Post pandemic, I think that only accelerates payment growth versus the economy. And also the economy is a little depressed and may likely be that way for some time. So that helps.


Craig Jeffery  21:48

Sure. Great. So the second second topic is fraud. And so we’ll begin with Mark.  Is the issue about fraud more about technology, or preventing fraud, more about technology, or the human element now?  Go.


Mark O’Toole  22:01

Oddly enough, I think is still the human elements. And that uses technology.


Craig Jeffery  22:06

All right, Michelle.


Michelle St. Rose  22:07

I have to agree it’s the human element.  It’s getting people to adopt the culture and the new way. I mean, let’s be clear. We’ve been doing things the same way for 40 years.  It’s gonna take a long time to get people to change their ways of thinking and back office.


Ankush Gupta  22:23

So I initially had both and then when you when you of course, said that, then I, you know, so let me say the tech side, I totally get the human element. The technology, you know, as we’re sort of coming out of the pandemic, and folks are moving more digital payments, the question becomes, alright, what’s the right digital payment that reduces fraud the most, and you look time and time again, check obviously is not digital, but you think of her could be I guess, but ACH, debit, wire, like those or any survey, you see, those are significant sources of fraud relative to virtual card payments, for example, which is next to nothing. And so solving sort of that shift towards payment methods that are reducing fraud is super important. But we do have to focus on the human element and better training can certainly help that in the AP department.


Bob Stark  23:11

Yeah, I’m gonna go with technology on this one, not to contradict anything that’s been said around the human element. But there’s two pieces. One is the very nature of the payment and the ability to basically make those payments much more secure through technology. The second one is managing data. Data is critical. When you just think of a simple payment process where I need to consume significant amounts of information around Is this a good payment?  Is this a bad payment? Is this a sanction payment? Is this not a sanction payment? Is the identity of the bank account, the owner of the bank account, actually the beneficiary that I’m paying? These are difficult for people. So yes, human element.  But the technology is going to be the solution that overcomes that human element.


Mark O’Toole  23:59

I thought it was a quick fire yes answer. So if it’s okay, I’ll add to that. I don’t I don’t disagree with that at all. I think that’s perfect. But what I meant by the human element is, you know, I had a friend who started a job a couple of months ago as a CFO.  First day of the job was a Friday, leading into a holiday weekend, and you know, where the story’s going, gets an email from the CEO says, pay this $50,000. She does, and finds out on the Tuesday when they all go back to work that that was not the CEO. And so that’s the human element around that’s an element of payments fraud. But I think, you know, certainly as it relates to some of the debit payments and the embedded finance, there’s going to be new ways people are going to find around how to defraud that part, that part of the business.


Craig Jeffery  24:39

Yeah, excellent. So all the people at Strategic Treasurer got texts from me about I’m surprised every with gift cards, and I’ll reimburse you by the end of the day, don’t go out and buy them. That’s a good example. So we’re gonna start with Michelle and come down this way. They’re gonna go back and forth for the next one. We’re gonna go to which matters more, and we’re gonna pick up the pace on this one. It’s speed or information with payments.  Is speed more important or information?  Go.


Michelle St. Rose  25:04



Mark O’Toole  25:05



Bob Stark  25:07

Oh, I’m going to contradict.  I’m going with information.


Ankush Gupta  25:10

I’m gonna go with speed,


Craig Jeffery  25:11

We got three speeds and one information, okay? And feel free to jump in on with some more things because we’re gonna be jumping on information or cost.  We’ll begin with Ankush. And going down towards Michelle. So, information or cost?


Ankush Gupta  25:23

So I’d say information.  From the speed side of it, just to go back to that for a second, I think that’s just more difficult to solve. And so I think that’s why that’s super important.  Information has been out there. But the speed element making payments faster has been quite challenging to solve. I think from an information versus cost standpoint, information is super important, wanting to make sure that we’re reducing the back and forth, and it goes to the human element. And a lot of these conversations, 1000s of hours that are spent by AP and AR departments, trying to reconcile payments, talk about disputes, and so on, and so forth. Reducing all of that is so important. And so making sure that that information is flowing smoothly between the parties is so important. And again, that feeds into cost saving. So one, they’re not unrelated, but information. So it takes the bait for me.


Bob Stark  26:09

I will once again say information. And it’s for the exact same reason, if you think of procure to pay, order to cash cycles, just the remittance component that travels in the case of instant real time payments, with the payments, so the dollars and the data are actually constantly associated, as opposed to with an ACH. disassociated, then you have to bring them back together. That information, it’s a, I’m gonna say a hidden gem in terms of benefits of real time payments. So information is huge.


Mark O’Toole  26:41

I gotta be a little different.  I’m conna say, costs. And let me explain that. So I mean, from, from our perspective, you know, we’re into the messaging business. So the information is part of what we would supply and doing those reconciliations and helping helping them do that, but I think it depending on the business that you’re in, you know, if you’re a treasurer, and you’re making payments, and you’re making considerations around costs, do I do these wire transfers, or do I do bulk payments, or ACH or same day, you know, there are some considerations there. So depending on that type of business, and the volume of transactions you’re going to be doing, you may be making some decisions around how you’re going to pay people.


Michelle St. Rose  27:18

I’m going to stay with information. And I feel it’s information because the more information gives you the speed to react, not only to bad scenarios, but also good scenarios.  The cost, I really feel based on speaking with clients and prospects, that it’s not going to be an issue.  They will pay for what they want, and what’s going to work. So as long as the cost is maintainable, and it could be fit into a budget, they’ll find their way around it if we give them what they need.


Craig Jeffery  27:46

All right, we’ll start back with you again, for the final which matters more, cost or visibility?


Michelle St. Rose  27:54

And I’m gonna say visibility.  Visibility is going to be your avenue to everything. If you can see it, you can fix it.  The costs associated to having that type of visibility, they will pay, they will, they will spend whatever it takes not to have fraudulent payments, cross their path. So I think that if we’re giving them technology that’s worth the dollars, we’re not going to have a problem with it, they are in need of it. No one has any problems spending the money if they have the confidence that it’s going to work.


Craig Jeffery  28:27

Alright, so one visibility.


Mark O’Toole  28:29



Bob Stark  28:30

Visibility, it goes with my information and data points.


Ankush Gupta  28:33

Yep, visibility. And it goes to the theme that I was talking about earlier, where information all these elements help reduce cost. And to Michelle’s point, folks are willing to pay for it if speed is faster, if information is better, if there’s more flexibility, if there’s more visibility, so all of these things feed into potentially lower costs, but also willingness to pay for these things to be solvable.


Michelle St. Rose  28:55

Not to mention that you’ll make up the dollars and other areas, right? So if you’re spending in one area, you’re going to see that the residuals of your, the fruits of your labor and others, so they don’t mind.


Bob Stark  29:08

That total cost of ownership, I really like that argument because the cost of that payment is just one piece of that total cost of ownership. And if you can find those efficiencies, which to Michelle’s point, you can, then actually your total cost goes down even if the cost of the payment component goes up.


Craig Jeffery  29:28

I love the nuances that come out when you force people to make a choice and then defend it. It just helps it helps bring that stuff to light. So thank you for the first speed round. We’re gonna we’re gonna skip the remainder questions there.  We’re gonna move on to fraud because we all love fraud. We’re gonna start with Bob and come towards me and then loop around just to keep your mental acuity up everybody. So payment security matters mightily. What are the issues and opportunities? I’m going to bundle a couple questions. So pick either part of them or all of them. Attacks on smaller firms seem to be growing much faster than they used to be. Why is that? What do we do about that? And then I also want to move to also cover the level of preparedness by payment networks, across the board there lots of payment networks and payment rails.  Can you start us off?


Bob Stark  30:09

The way I’ll actually start off is, I’m gonna go back to a point I made earlier on data.  To be resilient against fraud. And whether you’re a small firm, whether you’re doing payments on a variety of networks, the point is, is that your payment process is what’s being attacked. And if your payment process and your controls are strong, and resilient and consistent, and I like the example, that Mark gave earlier, around inconsistency and controls.  It wasn’t I wouldn’t say it’s not the human element, but it’s the controls that broke down in that kind of process. And we see those examples, we hear those stories.  Something broke in that process, that process has to be strengthened. There’s a lot of data to be managed to be resilient against fraud. And I gave some examples before, you have to be able to have control of that, to be able to understand in an instant, because we just were talking about speed of payments at the same time as increasing resilience against fraud. With an instant payment, it’s instant, in terms of settlement, you have to be able to make those decisions more quickly, the human cannot be doing that. So those processes have to quicken up. And they need more data, more controls more capabilities brought into that payment process. So that end to end journey becomes more complex, but to increase the likelihood that you catch everything before it goes out.


Craig Jeffery  31:28

Right. And Ankush, as you as you pick up the response there, maybe you want to focus on level of preparedness.


Ankush Gupta  31:36

My business specifically focuses very much on the card business. And I think from that standpoint, cards, virtual cards are very much designed to prevent fraud. And all the data you see shows that and that’s why we’re seeing such a shift from cheque to card and checked other means because every survey you see shows, check in debit and wire is significant drivers of fraud versus virtual cards. Also, the networks are very prepared for card related fraud through franchise rules, through controls, on card products. And so I do think from a card standpoint, maybe relative to you know, other, you know, ACH type products level of preparedness is pretty strong. And I’ll just add to the point about sort of the the firm’s larger firms have more robust vendor management processes more, you know, stringent controls, will we’re seeing with a lot of our mid market corporates and customers is that even though the economy is looking like it might be soft or softening, at least in the US over the next 12 to 18 months, the investment in technology tools to address fraud is rising, we’re seeing a lot of feedback that mid market, small business corporates are looking to invest more in these tools, because they’re seeing digitization as a trend that’s here to stay ensuring that their systems are prepared for that future trend. So some of the trends that we’re seeing.


Mark O’Toole  32:55

Yeah, I wanted to pick up on what Bob was saying there. I mean, I think he’s entirely right around the processes within the payments. And, you know, certainly we spend a lot of time, you know, enhancing the workflows and the rules that you can embed inside a payment, who gets to make a payment, some, you know, what, what are the thresholds for the payment notifications for a principals, you know, all of these things are important aspects to being able to control that sort of insight fraud. You probably all remember that the case of Malaysia I think it was where the treasurer absconded with made a payment for $100 million and disappeared. How could that happen? Well, that’s entirely avoidable process had you been following or had a rules based thing that hits those payment thresholds and alerts people to who gets paid and whatnot. And then the other thing is that, you know, very topical today, certainly this year is around sanctions filtering, and OFAC screening, you know, and being able to go and get ahead of the payment before it hits the bank, so that you don’t risk account closures and reputational risk and things like that it’s also important to kind of work together.


Michelle St. Rose  33:59

Which is the bigger issue, there’s a couple of these items to think about, you know, and why and how will these issues be solved? And just so you know, what we’re talking about the human element, and fragmented processes and systems where there’s lots of handoffs and steps? And then anything else that comes to mind? Is that a big enough question? I have to break it down into pieces.


Craig Jeffery  34:21

Can you solve all the problems?


Michelle St. Rose  34:23

Let’s see if I can put on my solutions consulting hat this morning. But no, I think that has to be broken down, right? Because from a user’s perspective, which I’ve been for 25 years before I became a consultant, when you say fragmented processes, and it’s, it’s changing.  Things are gonna have to be fragmented, to some extent, right? Everything is not going to flow seamlessly as we wanted to, because things are being handled in so many different ways than they were in the manual days. I mean, I’ll take layman’s terms. If you have your foot is hurt. Are you gonna go to a doctor, my vendor masters hurt, and I’m getting fraud, I want someone help me with fraud, not with my AP process, not with how I am putting my numbers on the books. So we have to really distinguish where we’re going to be most impactful for the mid markets, as far as that type of behavior and fragmented and be careful because, again, to the human element, these guys have been doing things the same way for 40 to 50 years, and it’s worked, you have to come up with something in the technology area, to show them immediate value, to why they should change their processes. Even if they don’t see it, it’s our opportunity to educate and get them prepared, as you were saying before, for what technology is bringing fraud, they work 24/7 to find new ways to get to these guys. And the masses, they got PTSD, as far as far as it’s concerned, you hit them one time, it’s like. So I think technology has to keep up with that, and not really look at it as fragmented, but more of a collaborative.  That’s what I’ll say.


Craig Jeffery  36:18

Sounds great. So we’ll be we’ll move on to Swift, we’ll start with Mark, and then go to Bob. And then we’re gonna move on to speed round two.  Swift is moving, I would say from a messaging platform where items are transferred, like the telephone game, from one person to the next to a network payment platform where communication around payments is, you’re looking at a single board, everyone can look at the same thing, as opposed to handing items across the board. Does this matter? Will API’s replace Swift? And what is the value and power of a network like Swift? Feel free to answer as detailed or summary as you’d like? Mark you’re up. I don’t think it’s going to replace Swift. But I think you know, Swift has already taken some steps around his GPI process. And the reason I don’t think it’s going to replace at least anytime soon, is just the adoption globally around API’s in banks anyway, yeah, I would say here to stay for, for the foreseeable future, with some changes along the way. So and then the the last part of the question there is, what is the value or the power of a network, let’s say, like Swift or specifically, Swift?


Mark O’Toole  37:29

Yeah, it was standardizations in messages and formats, and everybody is on the same system. That’s one of the pirates, you know, people are working off the same hymn sheet.


Bob Stark  37:41

the network is the key word here, there’s, I have no concern about the viability of Swift there, they’re going to be around for a long time, because of the network, you can do a tremendous amount of things. When you have that many institutions and corporates as well, on a single network, what we’ve known in terms of messaging, the messaging standards are going to change, Swift, like everyone are looking at different ways to adopt API’s and utilize that to modernize aspects of their architecture. In the end, they have a network of 1000s, 13,500 different institutions and corporate members together, that is the thing that matters for them. And their power is immense as a result of it. So I mean, everyone in treasury will utilize them to some degree, and we’ll continue to do that for years.


Craig Jeffery  37:41

All right, Bob. We’re gonna move off of Swift swiftly and move to speed around two, but we will begin speed round two on Swift. And we’re gonna reverse it start with you, Bob. Go to Mark, and then then we’re going to move on to some other topics besides Swift. So I’m focusing on you two on the Swift, the Swift order. So again, quick answer, the real answer, and then a 10. Second response, it could be more than 10 seconds, but swift payments platform.  Is it a great idea? Or too little too late?


Bob Stark  38:57

It’s not too little too late. So great payments platform? Yes. And there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity to modernize payments for everyone, especially again, Swift, the network.


Mark O’Toole  39:11

What he said.


Craig Jeffery  39:13

Oh, lot of a lot of disagreement there. So I’ll go Mark, and then and then to Bob, so is the Swift payments platform clearly communicated? Or a well kept secret?


Bob Stark  39:26

I’m gonna say there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity, which is a secret way of saying, there’s, I don’t wanna say secret, but I think there’s more opportunities to be explored. Again, going back to the value of the network. You can call it a secret if you want to, to use that word. I would say more opportunities to come.


Mark O’Toole  39:44

Yeah, I mean, like anything is a work in progress when you’re making initiatives and things like that. So I think secret are the wrong word. It’s just not not well advertised for apps are just in its nascent beginnings.


Craig Jeffery  39:58

Nascent’s the right word, secret’s wrong word.  I get it, like, not disappear. But what was the word you used, Bob?


Bob Stark  40:07

I think I said simplicity.


Craig Jeffery  40:09

So we’re finding some good nuance here. Some good good adjectives. This is excellent. So we’ll start back with Michelle, and we’ll go around Ankush afterwards. So FedNow, is that, will it launch on time?


Michelle St. Rose  40:26



Craig Jeffery  40:29

First use of the pass.  Ankush.


Ankush Gupta  40:32

I’ll say I hope it launches on time. And I think I’ll take Michelle’s example of using a real world example to describe this. I think, you know.


Craig Jeffery  40:38

You have to do a yes or no.


Ankush Gupta  40:40

Okay. Let’s say yes. We’ll say yes. But, you know, if if NASA can, you know, launch a space shuttle and have all everything, you know, to come critical infrastructure complex project, if it’s set for a date, you have to scrap or delay or move the date. I think we’d all be okay with that, given the criticality of the infrastructure. But I’ll start with Yes.


Bob Stark  41:01

I want to say yes, I really do. It’s very dependent. The requirements matter more than the date.


Craig Jeffery  41:10

So is that a no?


Ankush Gupta  41:12

That was basically a no.


Bob Stark  41:13

I’m still hoping yes. I’m still hoping yes.


Craig Jeffery  41:17

No, but I’m hoping yes.  No, but I’m hoping yes is certainly fine. And then the comments about the other, that’s good. So I’m trying to force these out. Nobody’s gonna get in trouble for them, I hope. And I think everyone’s sharing most of their views or their personal views, not necessarily those the company, please understand that. That’s how it comes up. Mark, how about you? Can you straighten this out for us all?


Mark O’Toole  41:36

I think like, like most things, no, whatever starts on time, so are we we come up with, but it’s a stake in the sand and aspirational idea to start something by that date, but you know, expect shift in dates.


Craig Jeffery  41:50

I’m gonna start with you and go down to Michelle, again, this is still on FedNow. But this is FedNow or Same Day ACH. So FedNow or ACH, which will be dominant?  If there’s a timeframe, right, same day, ACH is out. Now. If if you believe FedNow is going to dominate, when will that occur? Or do you think Same Day ACH will dominate?


Michelle St. Rose  42:11

Same day ACH will dominate for the next four years.


Craig Jeffery  42:16

Next four years? Okay, that’s pretty specific. I like it. I like it. So four years from now in 2026, check and see if Michelle, check it out. All right.


Ankush Gupta  42:27

Yeah, I’ll see you Same Day ACH, you know, banks have you near universal ubiquity with ACH and FedNow, like we were just talking about, we’re all hopeful that a launch is on time. It’s hard to see such drastic adoption of something that’s so new, when we’re all hoping that it’s an on time launch. So I’m gonna go with Same Day ACH for now. Over the next five years.


Bob Stark  42:47

I hear four years, I hear five years, I like those. I won’t put a time stamp on it. But certainly Same Day ACH for the near future. There will be a shift. I think we all agree that instant payments offered by FedNow, definitely will become more interesting. But it’s going to take time.


Mark O’Toole  43:05

Yeah, I hate to say keep saying what he said. But yeah, same Same Day ACH.


Craig Jeffery  43:12

All right, Bob, I’ll start with you and go the other direction. What’s the what do you think is the faster growth by percentage over three years, which will have faster growth over three years?  Virtual card or ACH?


Bob Stark  43:26

Oh, that’s really easy, actually. virtual card? Absolutely. I don’t see the growth in ACH nearly as much as virtual card. Here at AFP, it’s virtual card all over the place.


Craig Jeffery  43:39

Is it because it’s starting from a lower base or some other reason?


Bob Stark  43:42

Yeah, it’s an evolving opportunity. More, every organization has embraced ACH, probably to the level that they will. It’s not like there’s more there. Virtual card. There’s a lot that can be done there.


Craig Jeffery  43:54

Ankush, I think the answer, we expect we know what the answer is from you. Go ahead.


Ankush Gupta  43:58

If you watched our webinar last week, Craig, yes, you definitely know will definitely say virtual card. I think, you know, the data from NACHA shows, you know, ACH is growing 15 to 20%. You know, 21 probably will sustain that.  Virtual card, you look anywhere, it’s 25 plus percent, especially in North America. And I think the trends are moving in that direction. We’ve talked about it here and in the past around fraud trends, like Where where is there a flight to safety with respect to fraud?  It’s virtual card and obviously this push digitization, Faster Payments, On Card, all the work you guys have done at Strategic Treasurer around this surveying folks on card adoption shows that folks are getting paid faster, they want to get paid faster, they want to get paid with a virtual card. So we do see that trend persisting so certainly virtual card over ACH.


Craig Jeffery  44:45

All right, what about you, Michelle?


Michelle St. Rose  44:47

It’s definitely going to be Vcard, virtual card. The only issue or concern I see is how we reconcile. We have to make that clear to the end users. Again, the payment method is changing, the reconciliation process must change with that as well. So that’s where it’s going to be up to us to educate. But it will be Vcard.


Craig Jeffery  45:08

Perfect. So what do you think the faster growth by percentage over three years we’ll be comparing Same Day ACH in the US, versus Faster Payments in the UK? And I may have a follow up on this.  Go.


Mark O’Toole  45:22

Faster Payments in the UK? Yes. And Same Day ACH here?


Craig Jeffery  45:28

No, I mean, as a, as a percentage growth? Like, I mean, obviously.


Mark O’Toole  45:35

I think there, you’re gonna see them grow both sequentially. But okay, if I had to pick, Same Day, ACH.


Craig Jeffery  45:43

Same Day ACH. Okay. Okay, great.  Go ahead, Bob.


Bob Stark  45:47

It’s actually it’s an interesting one, because both will grow well. I’m not confident this answer, but I really want to come back in three years, so we can discuss how this played out. But I gotta go with Faster Payments in the UK, I just I think there’s something about Faster Payments. It’s very interesting. And I feel in a market such as UK and even parts of Europe. It’ll be there’ll be some very widespread adoption initially,


Ankush Gupta  46:11

I’m gonna go with Same Day ACH. I think, Faster Payments UK, it’s quite well penetrated. We’ve seen data, I think around 20 to 25% growth and Faster Payments and closer to 70 to 80%. Growth in Same Day ACH. So I’m going to go with that for the next couple of years.


Craig Jeffery  46:28

All right. Okay. Excellent. That was the end of speed round two. So now we’re going to, we’re wrapping up our discussion with a future look. I’d really like to hear what you see, or hope or expect in payments over the next five to 10 years. I want to avoid this stuff that’s like a slightly more adoption of of ACH or Vcard or cross border.  What’s going to be transformative?  You can acknowledge good ideas, you can look at what’s occurring, what other people say. But what do you think is going to be most going to be most transforming over the next five to 10 years and payments? What can we look forward to?


Michelle St. Rose  47:04

Better configuration from the tech companies.  Let’s be clear that our users are more sophisticated, more savvy, looking for more seamlessness and confidence in their tech. So as long as technology continues to grow, I think we’re going to see more users are taking advantage of Vcards, Same Day ACH. But again, there’s a lot of bruises that have been happening in the fraud. But in the next five years, I see companies really adopting the virtual card process, more than anything else.


Craig Jeffery  47:41

Okay, excellent. Thank you, Mark.


Mark O’Toole  47:45

Yeah, I, you know, just sort of looking forward, it’s happening today. But we’re going to see more of this, this expectation around frictionless processes, and automation, you know, all the hard work is done, utilizing technology behind the scenes, but as a user, whether I’m a corporate in corporate treasurer and AP, these processes become less and less manual, and more reliant on technology to make that easier, and then to call it exceptions, but more of that pervasively across every industry.


Craig Jeffery  48:15

Okay, thanks, Mark. And Bob, Bob is also known as Treasury Bob, if you use Twitter, so follow him on there.


Bob Stark  48:22

I’m gonna go back to word I used at the start, simplification.  And it’s similar angle to what Mark was speaking about the end to end process is that’s what’s going where the focus is, which is where the opportunity for improvement is. And so we talked about things like having desegregation in disparate systems, disparate processes, smoothing that over will simplify your process and open up the opportunities for new payment types. And there’s new payment types, we’ve talked about all of them. I mean, the adoption of Same Day ACH, the adoption of any type of Faster Payments. And more digitized payments requires a process that can take advantage of that. So the process has to be quicker, they have to be simpler, and they need to be ready to take advantage of the data opportunities, whether it’s to protect them, or to actually improve things like Michelle made the point about reconciliation.  That can be much simpler with the technology tools and the payment rails that are coming for us. So great opportunities, and it’s all about finding ways to have efficiency and better process, more automation and lower total cost of ownership. Great, thank you, Bob.


Ankush Gupta  49:28

Because yeah, the challenge of going last is a lot of it gets covered but the you know, frictionless, simplicity, all of that. So my number one was end to end experiences so I know we can’t cover that so I’ll cover the you know my second one. But just to just build on that for a moment. It’s moving away from buyer led experiences and supplier led experiences, AP only, AR only, to a focus on a full end to end seamless experience and frictionless experience, digitized experience where supplier on boarding and enablement is a priority where, you know, banks that have customers that are wanting to adopt new card programs, for example, feel like this is something that they can do because the process is easier, as Michelle is pointing, pointing out, over and over that, like, do and we see this with all of our customers that they want a better experience they’re willing to pay for it if the end to end experience is seamless, there’s certainly a willingness to adopt. So the different answer I’ll give on this one is just resource prioritization is going to be an important priority over the next couple of years. You know, we’re seeing 60 to 70% of companies targeted by phishing scams, and we’re talking about the human element in all of these processes and needing to ensure that, you know, we saw the technology, we saw the tech to make sure that the human element doesn’t come into this, as we see the economy softening as we see the focus on investing in technology solutions. It’s how our resources internally going to be redeployed to take advantage of the next set of big opportunities.  How are we going to culturally change and upskill folks in our companies to be API first, and not just think about not just focus on let’s say, for virtual card, if you’re at a supplier, where 90% of virtual card payments are manually key entered.  That’ll likely not happen in the future if the if the trends persist the way they’re going? So how do we sort of redeploy capital in a way that takes advantage of the digital and technology trends that we’re seeing? So I think that shift is going to be pretty significant over the next couple of years. As all the trends we’ve been talking about. API first, digitization, modernization of payments, becomes top of top of mind at all these institutions.


Craig Jeffery  51:39

Thank you all a number of great excellent points things to look forward to.  Ankush from MasterCard, Bob from Kyriba, Mark from Fides, and Michelle from Corpay. Thank you so much for your your input your comments. I know I got a lot smarter today, just hearing especially on the nuances that you guys describe things.  That was very helpful, so let’s give them a hand.


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