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Faster or More Secure? When it Comes to Payments, Treasurers Want Both.

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 9/29/2016

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GENEVA -- What’s more important to corporate treasurers when it comes to payments—security or speed? During a panel on treasury technology that I moderated Wednesday at Sibos 2016, an answer emerged—and it might surprise you.

Given the recent influx of real-time and faster payments initiatives that have been or are being put in place around the globe, it has begged the question of whether fraud will begin skyrocketing. Logic will tell you that when transactions are settling in seconds, there is more potential for illicit activity.

So, given that corporate treasurers typically fall on the conservative side of things when it comes to technological innovation, they would be more concerned that their payments are being made correctly than if they’re being sent in seconds—right? After all, just two days earlier, John Hunter, managing director, USD Clearing, treasury services for J.P. Morgan, remarked that treasury professionals are much more concerned with whether their payments arrive when they’re scheduled to do so than if they arrive “in 14 seconds.”

However, the response from an onsite poll my during my panel told a different story. Corporate treasury professionals in attendance were asked whether speed or security was more important when it comes to making payments. The majority replied that they are of equal importance.

This was also the opinion of panelist Marga Diependaele, treasury business analyst for IKEA. She did note, however, that there should be limits on how large faster or real-time payments can be. For high-value transactions, treasurers would likely be much more willing to allow more time so that they can be sure everything is correct.

Chris Mager, managing director and head of global innovation, BNY Mellon Treasury Services, pointed out that even though so much of the focus of these real-time and faster payments initiatives has been on speed, they have all also taken security into account. He pointed to the Federal Reserve’s Payments System Improvement project in the United States, which not only established a faster payments task force, but also put together a task force for security.

Nevertheless, the risks are still there. Panelist Francyn Stuckey, head of capabilities and client solutions, transaction banking for ANZ, pointed out that when the UK introduced Faster Payments, fraud did see and increase.

So when a real-time system is finally launched in the U.S., treasury professionals might want to give it a little time before they begin using it, just in case there are any kinks that need to be worked out.

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