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Successful second virtual Digital Treasury Summit #DTRS with compact and inspiring presentations from the field of corporate treasury. 

Last October was the first time that we held our successful event series on Corporate Treasury of the Future in a virtual format. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the Digital Treasury Summit on 18 March 2021 now marks the second virtual session of the five successful events that have already taken place and was broadcast as a livestream via KPMG Tube. The event again met with great interest in the treasury community, attracting more than 200 registrations.

The compact 90-minute format, containing several presentations on current topics from corporate treasury given by speakers of well-known companies, has also resonated very positively. True to the saying "brevity is the spice of life", the latest event saw four fascinating contributions live from three KPMG studios in Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich. 

Following the new Finance and Treasury Management Image Video, the event kicked off with Ralph Schilling as moderator and Nils Bothe, who welcomed all participants and speakers and then handed over to Benjamin Altmeyer of the REWE Group in Cologne, accompanied by Börries Többens.

The REWE Group was awarded with the 2018 "Treasury of the Year" title from F.A.Z. Business Media. Mr Altmeyer presented the treasury "time machine", which uses "time generation" (the system searches for errors in the end-to-end process) and "time travel" (data from the past and present simulate the future result) to allow the REWE Group to perform automated process monitoring and "exception-based management". The presentation showed vividly how an internally developed process cockpit can be used to identify deviations and thereby enable swift intervention. For instance, the process cockpit enables FX transactions to be transmitted one hour before cut-off rather than two days in advance. Data from the past and present are today also used to simulate in advance the REWE Group's next monthly close in a trial run and, by using earlier analyses of potential error sources, to ease the work-heavy closing phase. Responding to the question of how monitoring used to work, Benjamin Altmeyer spoke of an actual journey through time, starting with many manual processes and transfers and leading up to today's highly automated process management and mapping in the REWE Group's Treasury Process Cockpit.

Nora Kunz, Manager of FlixMobility GmbH, reported from Munich on the particular challenges surrounding the implementation process of a treasury management system in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. In her presentation she told of how remote implementation from a homeworking perspective somewhat lacked the usual project team spirit and solidarity. However, after a short bedding-in phase for the pure remote operation in the implementation phase and the first virtual meetings, things soon moved quickly forward. The travel time saved and the virtual "meeting room" established had a positive effect on response times and the project timeline. Looking back, the successful implementation paid off, and treasury's status has grown not only due to the highlighted savings, but also – and especially – due to the associated process changes that were initiated. Alongside the introduction of the treasury management system, processes were rethought, allowing FlixMobility to achieve greater transparency and efficiency in treasury through standardisation and automation. Nora Kunz also had some tips for participants: to request a larger consulting budget to account for tight deadlines in implementation and to not disregard the need for thorough testing so that exceptions are also identified and better incorporated into the future process. 

In the Frankfurt studio, Christoph Immick gave the next presentation: "Digitalisation in Treasury as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic". He showed the areas in which the crisis had acted as a catalyst for digitalisation at Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA. Some examples of this were the digital workflow in bank account management, guarantees and loans, the path to the paperless office, as a way of becoming more location-independent, and also one of the classics: the electronic signature. Responding to a participant who asked which costs are generally saved through digitalisation in these areas, Mr Immick replied that there is no general answer to this. The more complex the processes are, the harder they are to digitalise. But conversely this means that the necessity and willingness for change increases further and that current processes need to be scrutinised. According to Christoph Immick, the crisis has shown overall how well treasury has reacted to ad hoc changes and how it has excelled in its flexibility and robustness. By contrast, weaknesses are ruthlessly exposed in such a crisis.

The fifth Digital Treasury Summit ended in the Munich studio with Gerhard Bystricky from UniCredit, accompanied by Michael Gerhards, giving an insight into the status of development, opportunities and potential of request to pay. Request to pay isn't a new transaction or payment form, but a payment request from the payee/trader with a response option from the payer/customer. This is then linked with SEPA or instant payments. If the payment request also includes payment and accounting data or if the actual invoice is integrated (e-invoicing), the end-to-end process can be further automated and optimised. Request to pay allows for interesting use cases, for example in business to business (B2B) through just-in-time payments, the exchange of electronic invoices and liquidity transfers. In B2C (customer payments), request to pay can be applied in new and interesting ways in e-commerce and can offer refunds as well as a substitute for direct debits. Introduction at European level is planned for 15 June 2021. The challenges this will present, according to the speaker, include across-the-board availability of banks, similar to the development of instant payments. For corporates, there will be adjustments in the "point of sale" (POS), the ERP and treasury systems as well as e-invoicing as an option for invoice dispatch. Ultimately, it will be the customer who decides on these new value added services offered by banks and whether request to pay becomes a success story and is widely accepted. We're interested to see how it turns out!

We're pleased that our established event series, even in virtual format, has also been so popular in the corporate treasury community, and we are planning the next Digital Treasury Summit (virtual or in-person) for 28 October 2021. 

Click here to go to the recording of the virtual Digital Treasury Summit from 18 March 2021. 

Source: KPMG Corporate Treasury News, Edition 109, March 2021