Clever API solution put the full account overview at his fingertips

For years, Jacob Koch, head of treasury at Danish renewable energy developer Better Energy, dreamt of consolidated overview across his several banks and hundreds of accounts. Starting with a chance meeting at Treasury 360° Nordic 2023, this has now turned into reality. Meet up at Copenhagen Airport on 23 May to hear his story. 

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To join Treasury 360° Nordic 2024, at Copenhagen Airport on 23 May, sign up here today. Free of charge for treasurers – so why not bring your team?

“Now, my team and I can simply open the dashboard and instantly view our cash balance”, says Jacob Koch. The near real-time visibility has changed his group’s liquidity management, allowing for more informed decision-making.

Better Energy operates approximately 350 renewable projects across four countries. Each project functions as a separate company with one or more bank accounts per company, spread out across multiple banks. “Every time we had to check our liquidity, we had to review over 450 bank accounts across eight banks with different setups,” Koch explains.

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“I can basically now look at the cash balances on my phone and decide if I go to work or stay in bed.”

This process took around 2 ½ hours and provided data that was at least a day old. Due to the time-consuming nature of the task for a team of three treasurers, they only conducted these checks once a week. This posed a risk of inefficiencies and difficulties in managing cash surpluses or overdrafts. Moreover, making cash flow forecasts proved challenging due to the absence of accurate daily balance data.

The solution, provided by Finland-based FinanceKey, uses application programming interfaces (APIs) that link directly to the banks, summing up the numbers on a dashboard. Impressed by the concept, Better Energy decided to give it a try. They began implementing the dashboard in November and were using it daily just two months later. Updates are fetched automatically every 15 minutes.

Powers new optimisations

With the access to near real-time data, Koch and his team now leverage it to develop a short-term cash flow model, integrating information from their ERP system to forecast cash balances up to two weeks in advance. “This foresight allows us to anticipate inflows and outflows and plan our funding requirements accordingly. As a result, we’ve reduced the need for urgent payments, optimised currency trading, and minimised overdrafts, resulting in tangible cost savings.”

“Furthermore, the ability to instantly identify incoming funds, such as VAT refunds, and allocate them to reduce borrowing has significantly improved our liquidity management. With this enhanced visibility into our accounts and cash flows, we can make better-informed decisions, streamline operations, and drive overall financial efficiency.”

“It changed how we run our department, making it more enjoyable.”

Banks were reluctant to cooperate. “We could maybe make the API calls ourselves, but having the provider handle the collection of data from the banks is a huge help. The banks we talked to said they’d only give us basic data, which wasn’t enough for checking our balances and liquidity. One big bank wanted 15,000 euros a year to send us the files in the traditional way, but according to EU directive PSD2, they must deliver it for free via APIs.”

Unifies the dataset

“Another important thing is that FinanceKey collects the data from different banks and creates a unified dataset. This means that no matter which bank’s data we’re looking at, it’s all in the same format. FinanceKey feeds this data into our data warehouse, so we can easily use tools like Power BI to analyse and understand our data,” says Jacob Koch.

He hopes participants will take away two important points from his case study. “Using your own data can make a lot of difference in a financial way, because now we basically take better care of our money than we did before. It also changed how we run our department, making it more enjoyable. Now that we don’t need to manually aggregate the data, we have more time to actually think about how we can use the data,” he says.

His second advice: “Keep an eye on start-ups. Some have very clever ideas.”

At Treasury 360° Nordic 2024, at Copenhagen Airport on 23 May, Jacob Koch will present his case study “Tapping account balances through APIs for real-time bank account overview at Better Energy”, scheduled for 12:00 in Track A. Read all about the conference and sign up here.  

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