Four of the five major Asian sub-regions typically have good representation at Sibos, through presences such as the China and India pavilions, a pavilion hosting the Japanese megabanks and large contingents from Australia and New Zealand, Bindumadhavan said. As Singapore is the conference venue this year, there will be an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) day that showcases progress in the fifth sub-region.
“Ten specific countries,” as Bossu put it. “We are in Singapore; we have a natural affinity. We have five [countries] on board and five more to go. The real motivation is to bring ASEAN a level playing field, similar to those of the other sub-regions. Sibos is a platform where you can help drive those discussions. The same thing happened in Europe 10 years ago.”
“Even tiny countries like Brunei are adopting international standards that will help clear payments, securities, and foreign exchange [FX] faster,” Bindumadhavan added, which reflects the economic progress that these nations are making. Singapore is already on Swift, Malaysia is adopting the service and Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia are using it as an alternate channel for domestic payments clearing.
The other five that Swift hopes will join are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam]. “What better timing or forum can we have to bring senior bankers and central bankers together, to see what else we can do with this utility, and how SWIFT can help?” he asked.
Other key themes in 2015 include, as one would expect, the future of money; the ‘internet of things’ (aka the network of physical objects in electronics, software, sensors and connectivity); regulation and geopolitics; compliance; standardization; and the growth of the renminbi (RMB). One change this year is that public sessions will be held in the morning and some invitation-only sessions for chief information officers (CIOs), central bankers and others in the afternoon.
Another key topic is cybersecurity, where Swift can use its own experience as well as best practices from banks to provide insights into strengthening protection against the threat. Although Swift is available over the internet, “we’re still proud to say that the network has never been hacked,” Bindumadhavan said. “The network is a showcase for how serious we take security into consideration. We can talk all about that.” Also on the 2015 will be workshops where the big banks discuss cybersecurity.
Banks are also dealing with new competition from financial technology (fintech) start-ups and, as Bossu said, “we could say we don’t want those people at our show, but that’s not in our culture. We need to embrace, understand and look for partnerships.” One banker he met recently had forecast that banks will evolve into software institutions, so the industry needs to understand what’s going on and Sibos can facilitate understanding as well as partnerships.
“Innotribe [Swift’s initiative to enable collaborative innovation in financial services] provides platforms showcasing what you can bring and how can we work together.” Indeed, said Bindumadhavan, the only way that banks can survive lies in adapting their services and legacy systems, to support these innovations. “Banks can learn and adapt to these changes. You will differentiate through the services.”
While some themes and topics for 2015 will be similar to those of past conferences, this year’s focus on ASEAN, cybersecurity and innovation are among the differences that can enable participants to learn about new markets, risk management tools and technology to power their business ahead.
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