What defines the best transaction bank in Asia?

Amid the heightened competition in the transaction banking space, innovation and technology are key to winning new mandates and acquiring new clients

IN yet another rigorous exercise to select this year’s Best transaction bank, the board of editors at The Asset sifted through over 250 solutions ranging from cash management, liquidity management, electronic banking, risk management to trade finance and supply chain finance. At the same time, the board undertook an exhaustive client engagement as part of its own due diligence process to gauge the level of satisfaction these clients experienced from their service providers.

Five banks are nominated for the highly-coveted Best transaction bank award – BNP Paribas, DBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered – as they played on their strength in meeting their clients’ requirements.

BNP Paribas posted a double-digit growth rate in global transaction services revenue in 2017 on the back of the robust performance in its cash management business. It implemented several supply chain finance solutions for its clients to optimize their working capital requirements and improve liquidity without raising additional bank debt. The bank continued product investments as exemplified by key roll-outs in 2017 such as Inquiro, a client web app for payments compliance due diligence.

DBS continues with its journey to bolster its transaction banking franchise in the region with its 2020 strategic roadmap. The bank registered record growth in revenues in cash management and supply chain finance with improved market penetration. It accelerated market performance through the commercialization of new solutions. It pioneered an application programming interface (API) solution, IDEAL RAPID, and launched the Treasury Prism platform for cash management simulation and optimization. It also diversified into new trade corridors as well as expanded its commodities portfolio by including energy and soft commodities.

Deutsche Bank managed to overcome its challenges and remains a formidable service provider in transaction banking in the region. Cash management is a key strategic growth business for the bank, posting noticeable improvement in both top line and bottom line in 2017. With a focus on non-bank financial institutions and emerging industries such as fintech, it managed to win significant new mandates. Against the backdrop of the regional trade financing gap, Deutsche Bank executed several supply chain finance solutions in what it described as its fastest growing trade business in this part of the world.

HSBC is another strong contender for Best transaction bank as it offers a wide range of cash management solutions, helping clients to optimize their cash balances through enhanced efficiency in transaction processing. The bank is a significant player in trade finance, with the breadth in client coverage encompassing small and medium-size enterprises to large corporates and multinationals operating in the region. It offers buyer-centric supplier financing solutions to facilitate procurements and optimize working capital for corporate clients. HSBC’s network and geographic footprint is also a factor in providing access to a greater number of supplier markets.

Standard Chartered has demonstrated its ability to offer integrated yet flexible solutions across cash management, trade finance and foreign exchange to help address its clients’ transaction banking requirements. It has over 35 trade products that can be integrated with its cash management capabilities to form comprehensive solutions for clients. At its core, its supply chain finance solutions leverage on the better credit rating of its large corporate clients and allows the bank to finance their counterparties across their procurement and distribution activities.

Amid the heightened competition in the transaction banking space, innovation and technology are key to winning new mandates and acquiring new clients, as well as deepening client relationship. As such, banks continue to pursue their digital agenda with APIs forming a significant part of their digital strategy. In the case of Deutsche Bank, for instance, APIs are being implemented across the bank’s IT infrastructure, simplifying the interface between the bank, clients and third-party providers.

The DBS IDEAL RAPID is described as a first-in-market API solution providing instant electronic payment and receivables capabilities. The bank has successfully commercialized this solution across the insurance industry, such as for MSIG in Singapore and Etiqa in Hong Kong. Standard Chartered is also using APIs to support its clients to enhance efficiency, increase cash visibility, reduce cash conversion cycles and achieve better risk management and control.

And at Standard Chartered, one of the prime movers behind the bank’s digital strategy is Gautam Jain, managing director and global head, digitalization and client access, transaction banking, who is being recognized as the Innovation Banker of the Year. Under his watch, the bank is committed to stay ahead of the digital curve through continuous innovation and create value-added services for its clients.

Another awardee this year is Jianping Ji, deputy general manager, transaction banking, at China Merchants Bank, who is honoured as Transaction Banker of the Year, China. Joyce Tee, managing director and regional head for SME banking at DBS, is being honoured as SME Banker of the Year, Regional, as she further builds the bank’s SME franchise through product development, making banking seamless for SMEs.

John Wong, head of global liquidity and cash management at Hang Seng Bank, is named SME Banker of the Year, Hong Kong. Under his leadership, the bank set up a dedicated sales team to look after SME customers, while tailor-made cash and management solutions were introduced to meet their requirements.

The Asset is also recognizing a select group of outstanding treasurers and treasury team for transforming their group’s treasury operations and for efficiently handling their fund raising activity. Parv Gill, treasury director for EMEA at UPS, Eddie Mak, group treasurer at Kerry Logistics and John Mulcahy, group treasurer at CK Hutchison Holdings are named Treasurers of the Year, Regional, while Fiona Zhang, head of treasury at Education First, and Maojin Wang, director of treasury at Wurth International Trading, are chosen Treasurers of the Year, China.

Meanwhile, the treasury team at American Express India Shared Service Entities, led by its treasury director Apul Jain, is recognized as the Treasury Team of the Year.

For the complete list of bank nominees, please click here.

To see the Industry Achievement and Leadership Awards click here.

The winners of the Best Transaction Bank and other categories will be announced during The Asset Triple A Treasury, Trade, Supply Chain and Risk Awards dinner on April 30 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong.