The Digital Business Assistant by CashDirector

CashDirector is an artificial intelligence enabled and cloud-based digital platform that offers a Digital Business Assistant to MSMEs – mainly small firms, micro companies and entrepreneurs (including professionals, self-employed, craftsmen, retailers, etc.). MSMEs can save time by automating daily finance administrative tasks and better manage cash-flows by understanding real future cash inflows and outflows and obtaining financing in an automated process when needed.

“CashDirector is integrated with on-line banking and offered as a white-label or a partner label solution” – says Paolo Ravasi, General Manager Italy for CashDirector since February 2021. By partnering with us, banks and other providers of financial services can integrate our service into their online portals or apps as part of the their core banking or financing value proposition, branded with their own name and logo. Our business partners also obtain invaluable touch-points, otherwise not available to them, so that they can develop personalized offering to the existing and new MSME customers, assess the related risk more accurately and distribute the personalized offer in an automated and efficient way. As a result, our business partners generate additional revenue, reduce risk and enhance efficiency, well positioning themselves with MSMEs to become their preferred choice for financial services”.

CashDirector features a number of integrated functionalities:

  • Pay-and-get paid: issuance of sales invoices, recording of expense invoices via mobile app, OCR of expense invoices, automated reconciliation of invoices and payments, active monitoring of receivables and payables, real-time performance dashboard with daily assessment of VAT, remote access of documents to accountants.
  • Cash-flow management: cash-flow planner, integrated cash balance view (via PSD2), balance alerts, “funding” touch-points (sales and expense invoices, net working capital).

CashDirector has successfully proven its functionality and business model in Poland (mBank, part of the Commerzbank group, and othe banks) and Belgium (Aion), while market pilots in other EU countries are in progress. CashDirector received also many globally acclaimed awards, eg. Celent Model Bank 2018 award for small business (with mBank), EFMA, MIT and participated in prestigious business development programmes, eg Techstars, Plug & Play, PwC, EIT Digital.

CashDirector was originally founded in Poland by 3 serial entrepreneurs in 2012. it has recently launched operations in Italy, France and Germany as part of the international expansion and building CashDirector Europe. CashDirector is currently supported by two VCs: Luma Ventures and EEC Magenta.

“Our Italian platform is now ready – adds Ravasi – and we very keen to start our first partnership in the Italian market”.

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Ebury in 2020 enriches the offer and helps hospitals during the pandemic

Ebury is a financial services company, specialising in international cash management solutions including cross-border payments, FX risk management, and business lending. We had the opportunity to meet Chiara Fortunali, Key Account di Ebury Italia, and ask her about both the recent past and the near future of this international fintech.

How did the pandemic impact on your business?

Having a totally cloud based infrastructure, we were already prepared to work in smartworking so were able to reorganize all our activities very quickly ensuring the continuity of all our services. In Italy we decided that, to protect the health of our employees, we would start working remotely from February 24th. This has allowed us to continue serving our customers with the same efficiency as always and without disruption due to the change in the way of working that has instead distinguished many of our competitors.

How did you deal with it from a business point of view? Have you created ad hoc initiatives for your customers?

At the beginning of the emergency, we asked ourselves what our customers’ needs might be. We tried to be close to them by monitoring the foreign exchange market for them and helping in managing international transactionality by monitoring the success of collections and payments. We then realised that many of our clients would have an interest in access to credit sources and we took steps to disburse funds guaranteed by the state. This way, people working with us can use Ebury to access credit sources with the speed and efficiency that characterizes our processes.

How do you think the pandemic it has impacted the fintech industry in general?

This pandemic has shown that fintech can help SMEs to improve their processes and that it is an alternative and very efficient channel for companies that are served less carefully by a traditional banking channel. They have sent us customers who did not even take us into consideration us before. Let me give you an example of an event that happened in Portugal: during the rampant emergency in Europe our Portuguese branch helped one of the leading hospitals purchase medical devices. In particular, thanks to Ebury, the hospital was able to arrange the purchase transaction at 10.00 pm on the Thursday and the funds arrived in China the following day. This allowed the hospital to receive the goods the following Thursday. With a traditional banking channel the transaction would have taken place on Friday morning, SMEs do not have access to premium services, and would have been cashed the following Monday, causing a delay of 4 days in departure and subsequently in receiving medical devices. It is still etched in everyone’s memory how much 4 days means in terms of the spread of the epidemic and the consequences for human lives.

What are your goals for the end of 2020 in Italy?

To continue increasing our market share and enrich our offer both in terms of products and currencies traded. 2020 for Ebury is the year in which we want to develop the capabilities with the currencies traded in Latin America. We have also entered into partnerships that allow us to increase our product offering to optimize cash flow. We are continuing to invest in our platform and want to continue helping hospitals and healthcare facilities to make international transactionality more efficient.

What is special about the Italian market from your point of view?

The Italian market is among those most attached to the traditional banking system. It has always been among those less advanced than fintech. The Covid 19 emergency has pushed everyone to work from home and consequently to review procedures a lot. As a result, all those companies that who previously looked at fintech with some distrust, have had the opportunity,during the lockdown, to appreciate its efficiency and are now no longer willing to go back.

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