The mood of the industry at Sibos was one of growing optimism, tempered by some uncertainty. Optimism for new opportunities created by growing global trade, recovering economies and by technology, but uncertainty in where regulation is going and in how to reinvent business models, operating models and cultures in order best to exploit these opportunities.

Overall, we detected three main themes

  1. Digitization: The unstoppable growth of digital, and the threat to banks of new digital propositions and businesses
  2. Collaboration: The imperative for banks, regulators and market infrastructures to work closer together to drive efficiency
  3. Transparency and openness: The demand from customers for transparency from banks, and from service providers for open access.

In addition, there were many specific payments topics discussed in conference sessions, press and booths. In our Sibos summary, I have highlighted 10 of the hottest topics (in no particular order)

  • Digitization and threats from non-banks
  • Big data analytics
  • Standardization
  • Simplified user experiences
  • Crypto-currencies
  • Real-time payments
  • Regulatory reporting
  • Supply chain finance
  • Banking utilities and infrastructure
  • Outsourcing

Of these, cryptocurrencies is perhaps the most intriguing. There is still much scepticism, but Sibos showed there is a strong appetite and serious momentum to exploit cryptocurrency technology such as blockchains and consensus ledgers. Bitcoin was obviously a key subject, but Ripple was widely mentioned as well. This topic will get bigger and bigger over the next year in the banking industry.

Finally, I came away from Sibos with a strong sense that technology will extend growth in regulation. In the same way banks exploit modern technology, so too are regulators, in particular, to enable access to more information. For example, real-time technology allows regulators to demand intra-day liquidity reporting. Not only does technology give regulators new opportunities to regulate, but also the capability to regulate deeper – depending on your viewpoint, a vicious or virtuous circle?

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