India gets its first online corporate treasury solution

Reliance Industries the first to transact on Standard Chartered''s system.
One month after the launch of its Indian On-line Treasury platform, Standard Chartered has concluded the first transaction - a foreign currency forward deal with Reliance Industries as the counter party. 

Alok Agarwal, treasurer at Reliance Industries – India’s largest private sector enterprise - says that while they are in a bit of a trial mode with the system he was very keen to begin using the first online forex trading platform available to Indian companies. The benefit is the time efficiency, he says. “Most important is that you’re able to confirm all of the transactions right there on the screen.”

When Standard Chartered launched its On-line Treasury in India during the first week of October, the country became the third market to have access to the bank’s latest internet-based system. The On-line Treasury service was launched in Singapore last year and in Hong Kong in May. Initially take up was slow, leading Stanley Wong, regional treasurer, North East Asia at Standard Chartered, to admit at the time that some customers were concerned about security and that there are many comanies in Asia which are still more comfortable operating in the old economy.

But Vikas Suri, head of treasury marketing at Standard Chartered India says he expects that the service will be welcomed by the country’s corporate treasurers. Besides Reliance, the bank says it has several other large companies signed up to use the system, but he will not reveal which ones until a press conference planned for 1 December.

In refining their system for use in India, Standard Chartered had to take into account certain regulations, among them that currency forwards in India can be booked only for specific underlying transactions. “The only tailoring we had to do that was peculiar to the Indian market was to incorporate the necessary documentary evidence for that,” says Suri.

Besides currency forwards Reliance also frequently trades in derivatives as a hedging mechanism. Agarwal says he would like to do this online with Standard Chartered’s system “as long as it provides all the functionality we need.”

“Right now the only commoditised product in India is forex,” says Suri. “But going forward we want to offer a range of products including money markets, capital markets and derivatives online.”