Building the future of financial services through collaboration and innovation

We like this editorial on IDEON Financial Solutions companies, including LICUOS, by Inigo San Martin, Director, IDEON Financial Solutions: http://internationalbanker.com/building-the-future-of-financial-services-through-collaboration-and-innovation/

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A few years ago, we realized the majority of consumers in Spain were exposed to a risk they knew very little about and had no way of eliminating it. Interest rates on most loans, whether home mortgages or business lending facilities, are directly linked to Euribor. In other words, when Euribor goes up, consumers pay more for their loans and vice versa. Corporations have been managing this risk for many years, through the use of derivatives contracts entered into their banking counter-parties. However, these transactions were not accessible to consumers or small businesses. IDEON’s first solution, Rateguard, was developed to specifically address this problem. Rateguard allows banks to offer interest rate risk mitigation products to their retail and business customers in an economic way by covering the whole life cycle of these products from design to document management. This front to back and fully automated solution to create, distribute and manage financial risk hedging products, including the complete document cycle was installed in more than ten top tier financial institutions in Europe.

A truly customer centric deposit solution

Following the same idea of democratizing existing banking products to all segments CHOICE Savings & Investments was developed. This software allows banks to offer in an efficient manner the ability to deposit solutions where the customer can personalize the complete economics of their account in real time at the point of sale. Traditionally, personalization of this type has only been available to high net worth segments due to the many manual processes and restrictive costs that offering customization entails. Through the use of CHOICE software, personalization is possible for any segment in any type of deposit product, traditional or market linked.

Allowing customers to partake in the design of their savings accounts, greatly enhances their overall banking experiencing. For banks, in turn, offering personalization reduces the pressure to always offer the highest rate therefore positively impacting bank margins, avoiding rate shoppers and attracting long term relationships.

Making supply chain financial management more efficient

Another solution developed by IDEON team for financial institutions is LICUOS SCF, based on the LICUOS technology, which allows banks to offer a Supply Chain Finance solution with a multi-tier approach, including suppliers at the Tier 2, Tier 3 level and beyond. LICUOS SCF allows its partner banks to generate new business and commercial opportunities with existing and new customers whilst optimizing internal rating models for credit risk admission and monitoring. The economic sectors that are currently showing a greater interest in the LICUOS SCF solution are Automotive, Retail (both food and textile), Pharmaceutical, Energy, Tourism and Transportation.

LICUOS itself, a joint venture between IDEON and AVS, is an online B2B payment platform where businesses can compensate and pay their commercial debts. LICUOS´ patent-pending technology identifies and generates the most convenient and efficient A/R and A/P netting and payment proposals for businesses. As Lisa Pollack explained on the Financial Times Alphaville Operation sovereign debt net, multilateral netting would allow sovereign debt cancellation among countries: “The EU countries in the study can reduce their total debt by 64% through cross cancellation of interlinked debt, taking total debt from 40.47% of GDP to 14.58% […] France can virtually eliminate its debt – reducing it to just 0.06% of GDP.”

B2C versus B2B models

But not only does IDEON develop solutions for financial institutions. Various business lines have been developed to benefit consumers directly. Through its offices in Madrid, Spain and New York City, IDEON’s ultimate objective is to improve people’s and businesses financial life and this can be achieved through both B2C and B2B models.

One example of a B2C business created by Ideon’s team is Fintonic, an online/mobile personal financial management tool that already has 100,000 users in its first year of existence. Users are able to see in a single page all their financial positions (loans, credit cards, checking accounts…) regardless of the financial institutions where these are held. Additionally, users can set up budgets and alerts to make sure that they stay on track of their spending objectives.

Tradeslide, another B2C business by IDEON, caters to a very specific population – foreign exchange traders. This tool increases the overall transparency in the FX market by categorizing traders according to a set of proprietary algorithms.

One of the main problems in the post crisis era is the lack of financing from banks for small and medium size businesses (SMB). Many have been suffering from this situation for more than three years now. SUMMA Investment Solutions, another idea generated by the IDEON team, is a non-bank financing facility for SMB´s who have outstanding invoices. SUMMA has established a fund whose investment strategy consists of acquiring directly from SMB short-term commercial invoices.

Partnering for innovation

Innovation and collaboration are two of the pillars of IDEON´s core strategy. IDEON seeks to conduct innovative ideas through collaborative projects with financial institutions, businesses and financial technology entrepreneurs. These projects are implemented through both IDEON itself and its affiliated companies, examples of which we have seen in this article.

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Supply Chain Finance is more than improving Cash Flow

The goal of working capital management is to ensure that the firm is able to continue its operations and has sufficient cash flow to satisfy both maturing short-term debt and upcoming operational expenses, but Banks present Supply Chain Financing just as a tool for improving cash flow. Supply Chain Finance (SCF) is much more. SCF means:

  • Risk mitigation. Supply Chain Finance is a tool for minimizing the risk of supply chain disruption, which is one of corporates’ biggest risks and not only for improving cash flow. Supply Chain Management solutions providers can add a lot of value if they include innovative SCF tools to minimize the risk of supply chain disruption.
  • Business Process Alignment. In the physical supply chain, risks change rapidly from the order stage to the final delivery and from one tier level to another. SCF solutions can offer services that optimize the allocation of financial resources according to the different needs, and enable the proper alignment of the financing and cash management activities with the rest of the business processes along the whole physical supply chain.
  • Collaboration. Corporations have implemented business network applications to leverage the trust between buyers and sellers. Companies that collaborate effectively across the supply chain enjoy dramatic reductions in inventories and costs, together with improvements in speed, service levels and customer satisfaction.

Supply Chain Finance adoption

Currently, only a small percentage of companies are using SCF techniques, but more than half have plans or are investigating options to improve supply chain finance techniques. Slow adoption of SCF programs does not depend on lack of demand from businesses but on the resistance of the Banking System to change the way it operates. However, some banks are putting their factoring business under the wider Supply Chain Finance “umbrella”, trying to move from a traditional product-centric approach to a client-centric strategy. But client-centricity is not about naming but about solving the customer problem.

Banks’ reluctance to adapt their services to the new needs is causing the rise of solutions that promote the investment of available liquidity in one’s own supply chain, accelerating payments and cash collections, so that early payment discounts are seen as an asset allocation alternative with higher profitability and less risk than those offered by banks. This collaboration creates a win-win relationship for members of the chain, increasing their combined financial strength.

These solutions, although very interesting, do not meet the characteristics defined above. Can we say that a company has an integrated physical supply chain if it has only optimized its relationship with its direct suppliers? What happens if there is a stock issue further down the supply chain? As the integration of the physical supply chain has advanced incorporating a greater number of tiers of suppliers, SCF solutions should do so also.

LICUOS and the new SCF

LICUOS differentiates itself from other payment platforms, banks or SCF solutions as it goes one step further, leveraging not only the supply chain itself but also the network that each individual company creates from its own daily operations in order to find potential netting cycles that can compensate commercial debts.

Through this process, companies are able to minimize the number and volume of cash transactions, and hence, the banking fees associated with the same transactions. The solution allows businesses to reduce their dependence on the traditional banking system alternatives and at the same time significantly improve their working capital and cash flow management. By applying these techniques, businesses achieve an important reduction in their funding needs and credit risk exposure.

As Enrico Camerinelli, Senior Analyst at Aite Group, said in an interview conducted by Chris Davis at TreasuryToday, “if you look at what LICUOS are offering, that is exactly the sort of direction that I think SCF should be moving in”. In B2B networks companies are buyers and suppliers at the same time.  “Since you already have B2B networks allowing companies to transmit sales orders and other types of documents between one another, why not use those networks to carry out the task of matching payments? Then companies can benefit by being given opportunities for companies to use these balancing payments and debits as collateral to receive payments on time, for instance,” says Camerinelli.

More than a SCF solution

LICUOS is much more than a SCF solution. LICUOS is the first payment platform that helps businesses reduce their debts instead of just paying them. Winner of the Innotribe start-up disrupt, LICUOS is a global B2B payment platform where businesses, including public administration and nonprofit, can compensate and pay their commercial debts, allowing them to reduce their dependence on the traditional banking system alternatives.

LICUOS´ patent-pending technology generates the most convenient and efficient A/R and A/P netting, payment and funding proposals for businesses, significantly improving their working capital financing and cash flow management activities and reducing their credit risk exposure.

LICUOS, as the first Innotribe start-up disrupt winner, will be presenting at the Innotribe tunnel on Wednesday, 18 September at SIBOS in Dubai. The aim of the Innotribe Start-up Disrupt competition is to encourage and recognize financial technology firms that have the capacity to transform the Financial Services industry. The first Startup Disrupt was organized on 25 June 2013 at Next Bank Madrid.

LICUOS wins the 2013 Next Bank Madrid – Innotribe Startup Disrupt

LICUOS, the global B2B netting and payment platform, was announced yesterday as the winner of the “Innotribe Startup Disrupt” contest at Next Bank Madrid out of 9 finalists and more than 40 original participants. As Fermín Bueno, organizer of Next Bank Madrid, said: “the selection of the finalists was not easy as we have received more than 40 registrations of a very high quality”.

Next Bank Madrid and Innotribe look to gather the finalists of the Innotribe Startup Disrupt Contest as part of its search to find the most innovative and disruptive startup within financial services in Spain.

For the Next Bank Madrid and Innotribe competition, LICUOS competed against 8 other startups in the event supported by Wayra, a Latin American and European start-up funding firm created by Telefónica, as well as the IE Business School in Madrid. This year’s finalists were:

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LICUOS has also taken part recently in the FinovateSpring 2013 in San Francisco, the Innotribe Startup Challenge in New York and the Thinking Digital Startup Competition in Newcastle, presenting its innovative technology for cash and working capital management.

LICUOS´ patent pending core technology enables companies, regardless of their size or industry, to compensate, pay and finance their commercial debts, allowing them to reduce their funding needs and their client´s credit risk exposure. The algorithms search and provide the optimized netting, payment and funding proposals for companies in an efficient, automated and cost-effective way.  As a result, businesses are able to optimize their working capital and cash management activities and reduce their dependence on the banking system.

Thanks to the award received, LICUOS will participate at SIBOS (Dubai, 16 to 19 of September), the annual banking and finance conference organized by SWIFT, where it will present its technology to thousands of financial institutions and investors through a demo slot. Additionally, LICUOS will be provided access to a number of global initiative accelerating services:

  • 30 days of co-working in any of the 13 Wayra Academies and access to its network.
  • 3 months in Area31, the IE Business School Incubator in Madrid.
  • 5 mentoring sessions in the IE Mentor Network.

Currently, LICUOS is working with several Spanish companies in order to deploy a pilot version of their solution in the coming months, and is also building a strategic partnership network with a number of different consulting firms, financial institutions and business software providers.

“We are honored that the judges, Next Bank Madrid, SWIFT Innotribe, Wayra and the audience, selected LICUOS as the most disruptive startup” said Iker de los Ríos, CEO of LICUOS, “The Innotribe Startup Disrupt is a great initiative, where for a change we were able to make our pitch on home turf. We’ve spent the greater part of the last 6 months travelling across the US and Europe pitching our business to potential partners and investors, and its satisfying to know there is as much, or even more interest in fintech here in Spain“.

We’d like to thank Next Bank Madrid, SWIFT Innotribe, BBVA, Accenture, ThoughtWorks and the other Next Bank Madrid Partners for making the event possible.

For further information about Next Bank Madrid, please visit: http://www.nextbankmadrid.com/ or follow @NextBankMadrid on Twitter.

LICUOS selected as Finalist for Next Bank Madrid – Innotribe Startup Disrupt

LICUOS is pleased to announce that we have been selected as a finalist of Next Bank MadridInnotribe Startup Disrupt, honouring the company as one of the most promising financial technology and financial services startups in Spain and Portugal. On 25th June 2013, LICUOS will compete against 8 other startups to secure a place as a demo slot at the Sibos conference in Dubai in September.

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This year’s finalists are:

The event is supported by Wayra, a Latin American and European start-up funding firm created by Telefónica, as well as the IE Business School in Madrid. “The idea is to unlock some of the potential of Spain in financial services,” said Andrés Fontao, partner at Next Bank Madrid. “Spain has been the benchmark for innovation in financial services; the country leads in mobile payments. In Spain, anyone can start a financial services firm in their garage. That’s a threat to the traditional players – and the banks are trying to get as close as they can to the action.”

Fermín Bueno, partner at Next Bank Madrid, said: “With its strong banking sector, Madrid has always been an important global hub for innovation in financial services. Spanish retail banks were the first to introduce mobile banking to its clients in the early 2000s. What few know is that Madrid also has a very vibrant scene of fintech startups. We want to support the startups that have the potential to transform the entire financial services industry.”

According to Matteo Rizzi, co-founder at Innotribe, “when we did the Innotribe Start-up Challenge, we found that only two of the 250 applicants were from the Spanish/Portuguese speaking countries. Some 60 firms have applied for this Next Bank Madrid event. If we can ensure the quality of the start-ups and the process, the plan is to do five more events in Latin America.”

Iker de los Ríos, CEO at LICUOS said “one of these Spanish speaking startups that applied to the Innotribe Start-up Challenge was LICUOS which was selected as a semi-finalist of the Innotribe Startup Challenge.” LICUOS is a global business-to-business payment platform where businesses can compensate and pay their commercial debts. The platform provides netting, payment and funding services for accounts receivable and payable for businesses, allowing them to reduce their dependence on the traditional banking system alternatives so that they can significantly improve their working capital and cash flow management. By applying our solution, businesses from all economic sectors and sizes, including public administration and nonprofit, will achieve an important reduction in their funding needs and credit risk exposure.

We’d like to thank Next Bank Madrid, SWIFT Innotribe, BBVA, Accenture and ThoughtWorks and the other Next Bank Madrid Partners for making the event possible.

For further information about Next Bank Madrid, please visit: http://www.nextbankmadrid.com/ or follow @NextBankMadrid on Twitter.

For more information in English about this event, check out “Disruptive” Spanish and Portuguese start-ups to showcase talent in Madrid” by Elliott Holley, senior staff writer on Banking Technology at http://www.bankingtech.com.

Changing the Supply Chain Finance paradigm

Supply Chain Finance (SCF) refers to the set of solutions for financing specific goods as they move from origin to destination along the supply chain. SCF is one of the different methods used by companies to manage their working capital. In general, we can find three principal groups of solutions:

  • Negotiation of payment conditions
  • Financial institution services
  • Collaborative solutions

Inside each group, there are several specific methods but this range of solutions tries to give an answer to one of the troublesome areas explained in one of our previous post, the financing of working capital. As the access to banking credit is tighter than ever before and financing costs are rising, companies have begun to look towards other alternatives where the Supply Chain is a key element. In fact, the problem of working capital financing is not unique to crisis periods, but during these tough times companies have focused more than ever on managing their working capital needs.

One of the results of this focus has been the emergence of SCF solutions, with the overall goal of optimizing the working capital along the whole of the value chain, making it stronger and providing an alternative source of liquidity to all its members.

The first solution to address the issue of working capital funding was negotiation among different parties, with methods, such as deferred payment strategies, where the only goal was to advance receivables and delay payments. Overall payment due date negotiation between businesses is a zero sum game. Nevertheless, due to power and strength differences, the negotiations resulted always in favor of one of them, which impaired the smaller members of the chain with unfavorable payment conditions.

As a result of these problems, the solutions of intermediation proposed by Financial Institutions emerged. Factoring and Reverse factoring are just some examples. Both partially solve the problem of bargaining strength but add high costs in terms of discounting fees and interest rates. Traditionally, these solutions have been used by small and medium size enterprises to try to solve the consequences of the payment conditions imposed by larger players but, nowadays even high-rated companies are making use of them.

Exhibit 1. Financial institution services: factoring description.factoring

Nevertheless, these intermediation solutions create a huge dependency on the banking system. This has then turned into a significant area of concern for both Governments and large buyers, above all, among those belonging to sectors where the guaranteed smooth operation of the whole of the supply chain is essential, such as the food, automobile or chemical industries.

In this environment, highly characterized by the integration of the supply chains, collaborative solutions have started to grow in order to enhance the negotiation and collaboration between suppliers and buyers. Currently, only a small percentage of companies are using SCF techniques, but more than half have plans or are investigating options to improve supply chain finance techniques. Slow adoption of SCF programs does not depend on lack of demand from businesses but on the resistance of the Banking System to change the way it operates.

However, some banks are putting their factoring business under the wider Supply Chain Finance “umbrella”, trying to move from a traditional product-centric approach to a client-centric strategy but client-centricity is not about naming but about solving the customer problem. Banks reluctance to adapt their services to the new needs and offerings is causing the rise of solutions that promote the investment of available liquidity in one’s own supply chain, accelerating payments and cash collections, so that early payment discounts are seen as an asset allocation alternative with higher profitability and less risk than those offered by banks. This collaboration creates a win-win relationship for members of the chain, increasing their combined financial strength.

Given the complexities of modern financing and business to business payment techniques, invoicing including invoice automation and discount management initiatives need a framework to ensure that programs are approached on a strategic basis which bridges the supply chain, purchasing, accounts payable and finance organizations. These are some of the challenges that solution providers offering SCF and dynamic payables discounting solutions should face.

Exhibit 2. Early payment platform (example) description.dynamic_disc

In addition to this, there are other alternatives that go one step further, leveraging not only the supply chain itself but also the network that each individual company creates from its own daily operations in order to find potential netting cycles that can compensate commercial debts.

Through this process, companies are able to minimize the number and volume of cash transactions, and hence, the banking fees associated with the same transactions. These solutions allow businesses to reduce their dependence on the traditional banking system alternatives and at the same time significantly improve their working capital and cash flow management. By applying these techniques, businesses achieve an important reduction in their funding needs and credit risk exposure.

LICUOS is one of the few companies capable of offering this degree of innovative and disruptive processing. Throughout its innovative patent pending technology solution, LICUOS enables an efficient and highly secure processing of accounts payable and receivable transactions, 24/7 and in real-time, to deliver the best possible financial optimization and user experience. Furthermore, LICUOS gives businesses full control and visibility into the payment process and allows them to easily communicate and negotiate with their business partners.