Magazine article American Banker

Selling Corporate Clients on Mobile

Magazine article American Banker

Selling Corporate Clients on Mobile

Article excerpt

Byline: Bryan Yurcan

Mobile innovations for corporate customers have been slow and perhaps for good reason: The demand is largely not there yet.

"It's a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg scenario," said Christine Barry, a senior analyst with Aite Group. "When banks are offering mobile services corporates are not adopting it in large numbers, which makes the investment hard to justify."

Barry estimates that only about 10% of corporate treasurers are banking on a mobile device.

But she does see some green shoots. The world is also becoming more mobile -- it is now common for employees at many companies to do work entirely on laptops or mobile devices and not desktops anymore. Also, corporates are using mobile in areas that take advantage of the native capabilities of smartphones, such as using the camera to make it easier to upload receipts, for instance.

Despite the limited reach today compared with mobile banking for consumers, banks are very much focused on building out mobile products for their corporate clients.

Wells Fargo, for example, last week announced that receipt imaging would be available for its commercial card customers who use the bank's Commercial Card Expense Reporting product, a service that allows them to upload and manage receipts directly on their mobile devices. The new imaging capability enables customers to snap a photo of a receipt with their mobile phone and allocate each individual expense to a particular transaction. This is designed to make the process of reconciling, reimbursing, and billing for expenses quicker and easier, said Mary Mazzochi, senior vice president, commercial card product management at Wells Fargo.

Although expense management providers such as Concur enable imaged receipts for travel expenses to be uploaded its system, Mazzochi said Wells' new service applies to all business expenses.

The service "streamlines the expense management and approval process by allowing cardholders to attach photos of their receipts to specific transactions and cash expenses," she said. "Users can automatically match uploaded receipts to transactions."

They do so using Optical Character Recognition, a technology that enables users to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable data.

Mazzochi said the bank created the product in part as a response to customer feedback and asking what corporate clients want when it comes to mobile technology. She said before launching the product, Wells conducted three rounds of user experience sessions during the project with a select group of commercial customers. This proved critical in the final design, said Mazzochi.

"It yielded some important feedback that resulted in modifications to the original design in order to make the tool more intuitive and as user-friendly as possible," she said.

Wells' new service is part of an industrywide trend on banks' part to step up their game when it comes to mobile offerings for business customers. And Wells is hardly the only bank innovating in this area. Earlier this year, Citigroup announced plans to simplify its mobile login services for treasury management and trade clients. The bank launched a new app that provides clients digital tokens on their own smartphones to generate temporary passcodes to log into corporate payments systems. Traditionally, users were required to carry a small physical token to generate the login passcodes necessary to access their accounts and transactions.

Citi has managed to more than triple the amount of transactions flowing through its corporate mobile channels last year, said Mayank Mishra, global head of digital channel services for Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions. …

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