According to Jim Gifas, there's no reason a bank's corporate clients can't benefit from the convenience technology has afforded consumers. "People want to conduct business the same way that they live," says Gifas, executive VP, head of treasury solutions for RBS Citizens (Providence, R.I.; $118 billions in assets).
On that note, RBS Citizens has invested heavily in mobile banking services for corporate customers. Its corporate mobile system, accessMOBILE, debuted in 2010; is supported by iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices; and was one of the first corporate mobile banking systems in the U.S. The app, built on the SAP/Sybase platform, lets corporate clients approve pending transactions, release wire transfers and view previous-day transactions, among other functions.
The service has a 73% adoption rate among its initial target market after one year, and Gifas' team is preparing for the launch of the next generation of accessMOBILE later this year -- while many banks are just rolling out their own corporate mobile systems. This version will have more transactional capabilities, as well as informational ones, such as viewing account balance snapshots, Gifas says. "The difference between the first generation of accessMOBILE and the 2.0 version is moving from an information-oriented to an action-oriented system," he adds.
This transition is based on feedback from a client advisory group RBS Citizens had convened, Gifas reports. He says initially the idea for accessMOBILE was to assist business clients while they were out of the office, but many were telling Gifas they wanted to use it on a more day-to-day basis as well.
Midmarket corporate customers will benefit from having more transactional capabilities, Gifas says. "Large corporates have big treasury staffs and many people to process transactions. The middle-market operation is a bit leaner, and these customers are managing these transactions themselves."
Gifas constantly evaluates the merits of building applications in-house versus partnering with technology providers when considering adding to the RBS Citizens treasury management product suite. When looking to expand payments processing services, Gifas partnered with Bottomline Technologies to integrate its Paymode-X digital payment and invoicing system. The cloud system lets clients receive electronic invoices and send electronic payments with detailed remittance data to and from suppliers, customers and employees. It also helps businesses eliminate paper payment costs and earn dividends for payments made through it, with a percentage of a customer's payment file total being returned directly to it, Gifas says.
While integrating Paymode-X into RBS Citizens' treasury management suite, Gifas took several steps to ensure that the project would be completed on time and on budget, which was especially important since this was happening concurrently with several other large projects. "In order to launch new solutions, we go through many internal controls," he says. "We go through a vetting process and also seek feedback from existing customers." In this instance, he received "positive feedback all around."
The product rollout began in October 2012, and took approximately eight months to complete. RBS Citizens went live with the product in June. During the implementation, Gifas made sure there were regularly scheduled review meetings, and constant communication between the bank and Bottomline to ensure that the process was going smoothly. If something wasn't going right, the implementation team would hold emergency one-off meetings to immediately address the problem.
"Having these protocols in place, and involving your technology partner, is the recipe for success," he says. Paymode-X "has been a very well-received solution by our clients, resulting in a very robust pipeline of clients interested in learning more about it and implementing this solution."
Prior to his role at RBS Citizens, Gifas spent 13 years at Citibank and four years at Deutsche Bank in various cash management and sales leadership roles. He has seen a constantly changing regulatory environment in the banking industry. He says banks are dedicating more resources to regulatory compliance than ever before and believes it's a "balancing act" to make sure the bank is serving its customers by introducing new products and services, while dealing with the regulatory landscape. However, he notes that this will be the status quo for banks in the foreseeable future.
"I don't think it's going to lighten up, but the things being done today are maybe things that needed to be put into place," he adds.
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Gifas, who graduated from Iona College with a degree in finance, lives in New Jersey and enjoys going to the Jersey Shore -- specifically Long Beach Island -- on summer weekends with his family. He relies on mobile technology during these excursions, using the mobile app Sigalert to get an overview of traffic flow before leaving the house. Waze provides him with traffic patterns en route to the beach.
Gifas also enjoys watching his two sons play baseball, never missing a game. But unlike the image of the overbearing, suburban sports parent, Gifas says he likes "to sit in the bleachers and just be a silent fan."
Executive VP, head of treasury solutions, RBS Citizens
Size of IT organization: More than 150 people report to his division
Prior roles: 13 years at Citibank and four years at Deutsche Bank in various roles
Education: Graduate of Iona College with a degree in finance
Hobbies:Going to the Jersey Shore
Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio