Adam Smith Awards Asia 2018

Highly Commended Winner Best Working Capital Management Solution Alibaba Cloud Hangzhou, China Kenneth Ho, Finance Manager Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, is a cloud computing company. Alibaba Cloud provides cloud computing services to online businesses and Alibaba Group’s own e-commerce ecosystem. The business has a footprint in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and US. An end-to-end collections process that is simple yet extremely effective The challenge The existing receivables flow used by Alibaba Cloud relied wholly on telegraphic transfers from third parties. With business growth, the incoming volume increased exponentially and account reconciliation was becoming a major challenge for the treasury team. To address these challenges, Alibaba Cloud set out to find an end-to-end solution. Following a rigorous RFP process, its banking partner Citi was chosen to automate, simplify and streamline the collections processes of Alibaba Cloud. The solution After selection, Alibaba Cloud worked closely with Citi in Asia to implement the bank Payer ID and CitiConnect for File solutions. Payer ID is an automated payer identification service that streamlines reconciliation for electronic receipts. Through this solution, each buyer is assigned a random and unique Virtual Account Number. CitiConnect for Files is a global gateway for file transmission and translation that effectively integrates payments, receivables and information with Alibaba Cloud’s accounting, ERP and other financial systems. Via a single delivery channel, Alibaba Cloud has access to Citi’s global footprint that includes a wide range of payment instruments across all regions and covering over 100 different currencies. CitiConnect for Files was opted for by Alibaba Cloud as the most cost efficient and secure solution for transmission and receipt of files from anywhere in the world. As a result, the business was able to manage its working capital more effectively to support its business growth by means of an automated solution to reconcile quickly and accurately. Best practice and innovation These two solutions perfectly complemented each other and matched Alibaba Cloud’s needs. Alibaba Cloud now has faster and automatic reconciliation, settlement times have shortened and operating costs have been optimised which enhanced the working capital objectives needed to expand the business. Payer ID might be a simple solution, but it is key to whether the Alibaba Cloud international business can scale or not. Where previously back and forth communication and recording processes involved its accountants, business reps and customers, its processes were time consuming, non-value adding and extremely frustrating at times. The new solution not only increases efficiency internally, but the customer experience is also drastically improved as they are no longer waiting for Alibaba Cloud’s accountants to record incoming funds manually to unlock their accounts. Now customers can expect funds to go through the system within a far more reasonable timeframe. Key benefits Post-implementation of the solution, Alibaba Cloud has seen the following benefits: • Improved reconciliation rates due to the fully automated payer identification service. • Eliminated the need to extract data from statements manually, freeing up resources and minimising errors. • Savings in time (at least ten to 15 days every month) and costs (about RMB1m per annum on employee time cost) as the overall transaction processing is reduced by automating the cash application process using the virtual account. • Secure transmission via a wide variety of file connectivity and security options. • Have global access to Citi TTS capabilities in over 90 countries and over 100 currencies. Chen Xi, Alibaba and Tracy Ge, Citi 16 | treasurytodayasia Adam Smith Awards Asia © February 2019