Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) has launched a web-based electronic bank account management (eBAM) service for its corporate and commercial clients in the US and Europe.
The rollout follows a year-long pilot with eight clients, says Cindy Murray, head of Global Treasury Product Infrastructure, Platforms and eCommerce at BofAML.
eBAM is a generic term for web-based systems that automate and standardize the opening, closing and maintenance of bank accounts and treasury services, and provide an audit trail of corporate account transactions.
Using eBAM systems, companies can electronically add and delete authorized account signatories, and digitally execute documents using e-signatures, without needing paper signatures.
BofAML announced at SIBOS that it is offering eBAM to users of its CashPro Connect multi-currency payment file transfer system and its CashPro Online treasury management portal. The bank’s CashPro systems use the ISO 20022 XML (eXtensible Markup Language) financial messaging standard to facilitate cash management data exchange with other financial institutions.
“We’re now providing eBAM to all our corporate clients who want this facility,” says Murray. “For a corporate, setting up eBAM is complex and challenging, because it requires the firm to have a centralised database of bank account information, which not every organisation has. Multinationals can have as many as 2,000 to 3,000 bank accounts around the world.”
To set up eBAM, a corporation needs to know who all the authorised signatories are, and how its various bank accounts are aligned with its legal entities, Murray says.
Identifying legal signatories
“BofAML has created a workflow mechanism for our eBAM application that enables us to open accounts for our corporate clients and identify who the legal signatories are.”
CashPro Connect enables corporations to send a single file containing both electronic funds transfer and cheque origination instructions to BofAML for global disbursement of single-currency and cross-currency payments. BofAML edits the file, which can include cross-currency wire transfers and low-value ACH payments in any of 160 currencies, translating the data into required global formats, and forwarding it to the appropriate clearing systems.
CashPro Online creates a web-based “dashboard” for the corporation to view all its bank accounts, Murray says, including accounts with other banks. “The ‘dashboard’ offers automated real-time reporting, so that the corporation can have transparency on its current cash positions,” says Murray. “Because we use the ISO 20022 XML standard, our system is bank-agnostic. This means the corporation can use CashPro Online to pull in information from its accounts with other banks.”
In September 2011, BofAML launched the CashPro Invest service for users of CashPro Online. CashPro Invest offers access via CashPro Online to 200 US dollar-denominated money market mutual funds and other short-term investment products. “In 2012, we will add non-US dollar money market mutual funds to CashPro Invest,” says Murray. “We worked with US trading software vendor Cachematrix to develop CashPro Invest.”
In a related SIBOS announcement, Microsoft said it had completed a collaborative project with BofAML and Citigroup to become the first corporate treasury to implement ISO 20022 XML standard, version two, for cash management financial messaging. This standard provides a common language for Microsoft to receive electronic bank statements from its global banking providers.