SIBOS 2015 clearly showed how banking is at an inflection point. Like every year, there is a general feeling that SIBOS 2015 helped raise the banks’ awareness of the values at stake and the challenges ahead. But this year more than ever, the SWIFT flagship conference also helped banks leap forward into next-generation banking by pushing for new and sustainable design solutions.
Although the most repeated buzzword was probably “disruption”, a more essential idea driving the conference was probably that of real time : payments, data, decisions.
The whole banking operational model is already transitioning from the traditional 2-day (or more) value date to quasi-instant payment, settlement and reconciliation. To exemplify this “revolution”, the business of trade finance, traditionally cumbersome and paper intensive, is set to be completely redesigned to realize huge efficiency gains.
Most banks are already using APIs in some way, but very few are actually building new value propositions with them. The fascinating cases of greenfield Fidor Bank and Silicon Valley Bank were featured, but the more traditional BNY Mellon also explained how they decided to transform into an API-driven organization.
Speaking of blockchain, SIBOS 2015 marked a milestone: blockchain has been properly defined in all its extensions. Now, it is no longer about if but rather how to leverage blockchain technology to realize immense operational cost savings, both at the industry and individual bank level. Most FIs have realized the need to understand blockchain to rethink their banking operations in a collaborative and distributed manner, without compromising security or scalability.
The theme of 2015, Artificial Intelligence, naturally was largely discussed. As a game changer in the financial services industry, the Human-Machine relationship was debated, both in terms of value creation and job destruction. Besides the usual Watson demo, Pepper the robot was a rising star.
Finally, the demonstrated use cases of data analytics were impressive. Most banks are probably aware of the huge gap they still need to bridge to leverage the power of real-time data analytics and translate it into improved customer experience and increased revenue generation.
Fintech played a central role in every single Sibos session, largely received as change accelerators and necessary partners for banks.
Last but not least, all bankers looked out of the corner of their eyes at China and to a lesser extent at India. Big innovation is coming from Chinese tech giants, namely Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, who are investing heavily in finance. Building upon their huge local user bases, they are aggressively looking to expand regionally and beyond - movements no bank can afford to ignore.
In summary, SIBOS has triggered, as needed, a certain sense of urgency for Banks. In this unprecedented fast-moving environment, there will be winners, losers and newcomers taking a relevant portion of the value chain. On which side will you be?