BofA Merrill Leads Discussion on Global Payments Trends

Client Webcast Series Focuses on Trends and Issues in Each Region

Business Wire

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

As a leader in global payments capabilities, Bank of America Merrill Lynch takes an active role in facilitating dialogue around the changing landscape of global commerce and the range of solutions companies can use to make disbursements. This year, the bank’s Global Transaction Services (GTS) group is hosting a series of webcasts, each with a specific regional focus, to help clients become more aware of the challenges and opportunities that different payments systems present. The North America and Asia Pacific webcasts occurred in February and March. Later this year, the Europe and Latin America webcasts will take place.

“We are at an important inflection point in the global payments industry, where commerce – which at its core is the exchange of goods for payment – is becoming borderless. This is driving new payment needs and challenges, and in response, a range of emerging technologies is appearing. Further compounding this complexity are the evolving regulatory frameworks that govern each country,” said Ather Williams, head of Global Payments in GTS. “It’s critical we stay close to our clients during this time, to understand their most important challenges and what innovations we can bring to market to solve those issues. The webcast series is an important step in that process.”

Last month’s webcast, the first in the series, attracted more than 420 participants. Speakers discussed how companies can achieve their goals in the North America payments system. Topics included working capital optimization, electronic payments migration, and the current state of the U.S. and Canada payments systems.

In a poll* conducted during the webcast, participants were asked what one change to North America payments systems or processes would most help them improve their payment efficiency. The results were:

  • Forty percent said a simple and seamless transition from paper to electronic payments.
  • Thirty-two percent said better payment information (outbound and inbound reconciliation).
  • Twenty percent responded lower cost payments and payment options.
  • Seven percent of responses said faster and easier payment delivery.

This month’s webcast on Asia Pacific attracted 175 client attendees and centered on the most pressing questions that companies have about doing business in the region, and how they can find efficiencies. Bank presenters gave an overview of payments in the 14 countries in which the bank has a presence, with detailed discussions on the clearing systems in China and Hong Kong. The treasurer of an electronics company also presented, sharing the experience of their company with the regional payments system.

In a poll** conducted on the Asia Pacific webcast, participants were asked to identify which key business objectives this year will impact their payments activity in the region. The results were:

  • Thirty percent said improving straight-through delivery of payments with Asia Pacific trading partners.
  • Twenty-three percent said expanding the corporate footprint for greater direct presence in the region.
  • Eighteen percent said negotiating better payment terms with Asia Pacific trading partners.
  • Twelve percent said establishing an in-region treasury/payment center.
  • Nine percent said growing exports to Asia Pacific.
  • Eight percent said growing imports from Asia Pacific.

“The popularity of these webcasts reinforces the importance of the global payments system to our clients’ goals, and the poll results clarify their priorities,” added Williams. “While there’s continued debate about improving speed in the U.S. payments system, from our clients’ point of view, it’s not speed but rather the transition to electronic payments and improving remittance information that will alleviate the biggest pain points.”

“Asia can be viewed as a complex region to make payments, given how each country has its own distinct regulatory framework and clearing systems. Furthermore, with the consolidation of clearing systems and the evolution of paper to electronic, it is essential that banks operating in the region have direct memberships with the various clearing platforms to effect seamless payments across multiple markets,” said Percy Batliwalla, global head of GTS Sales. “At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we continue investing in both direct memberships and in creating streamlined solutions that meet our clients’ local and cross-border currency needs, enabling them to enhance the ease and efficiency of their payments across multiple countries in Asia.”

The webcast on Europe is scheduled for next quarter and will include a discussion on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and other payment developments. It is the latest in a series of initiatives – including client-facing sessions, forums and workshops – that the firm has generated over the past 20 months to help clients prepare for the SEPA deadline. The Q3 event follows a series of January client webcasts that examined the key considerations for corporates as they enter the last stages of SEPA implementation.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch offers a global suite of electronic and paper-based disbursement solutions to help companies optimize their working capital with greater precision and control. Solutions include: low-value payments (Automated Clearing House), wire transfers, cross-border payments and multicurrency payments, as well as card solutions and ePayables. Furthermore, the bank’s expertise in foreign exchange means that companies can make international payments in over 140 currencies covering 190 countries and territories.

* 177 clients completed the North America poll.
** 155 responses were collected from 76 clients in the Asia Pacific poll

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Reporters May Contact:
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