In 1977, I worked as a summer intern at a major New York bank. My job was to phone corporate customers daily with their account balances. Late morning, I would start taking calls from customers wanting to initiate wires; I would complete a paper wire ticket with all the details, which my supervisor would sign and hand to a person who would walk it to the wire room. I was part of the first generation of corporate cash management. By 1979, most banks offered simplistic TTY cash management services directly to their clients but it wasn't until the introduction of the IBM XT, in 1983, when things started to get intresting.

At that time, most major banks began developing or buying treasury workstations, which remain the foundation of corporate cash management functionality today. Almost 30 years later, the functionality we see in Web-based applications is shockingly similar to what we had in 1983. The reason for this is pretty simple-in the 1980s the PC with a hard drive enabled these applications for the first time. In response to the new technology, banks and their vendors learned how treasury professionals did their job, and designed systems to meet their requirements. That's application development 101. Since then, however, similar applications have just been re-deployed on different technologies-DOS to Windows, Windows to Web, and so on. My belief is that since then, few banks/vendors have re-examined what new opportunities have become available with the new channels that have emerged. A parallel set of applications for ACH and bulk payment applications took a similar route as the treasury applications, but were designed for the payroll and accounts payable departments. These applications were then glued together under one menu, adding to the current situation of diverse user experiences.

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