25 September 2019

Sibos London 2019: Day Three Wrap-up

Day three of Sibos London, and the importance of comfortable shoes is kicking in. Walking an average of six miles a day, and standing up almost continuously, becomes tiring. But it’s all worth it with the amazing connections, conversations and sessions.

We are living in an ever disruptive world. Every industry is being disruptive by new technologies and platform models. The financial industry is no exception. We began today with Professor Julian Birkinshaw from the London Business School giving guidance on how to stay ahead of the curve in a disruptive world. A leading expert on strategy and entrepreneurship, Julian stated that the pace of change inside your company must be at least as fast as the change occurring outside in order for you to stay relevant. This is why the agile way of working has become so prevalent recently. In terms of management structure, less is more. Structure and process need to be simplified so that individuals can make more (and faster) decisions. Bureaucracy (which is rules based) and meritocracy (which is committee based) have their roles in organisations, but really be innovative and remain relevant you need to have more of an ‘adhocracy’ environment (action oriented). Julian’s final word is that truly innovative companies benefit from people who are “unreasonable” (think Elon Musk) combined with more reasonable people who can provide guidance and help to sell / implement those new and unreasonable ideas.

Julian Birkinshaw

Today’s lunch & learn was a sneak peek of new SWIFT Institute sponsored research into the shadow payments system. Professor Kristin van Zwieten from the University of Oxford was meant to be on stage at the ExCel, however, her two young children were ill and so she was unable to travel to London. We are, however, in a hyperconnected world, and so Kristin was easily able to present from her home in Oxford to the audience in London. The session worked perfectly, and was a great example of achieving a work / life balance – satisfying both business and home commitments. My thanks to Nancy Murphy for quite calmly suggesting the solution. The session itself was fascinating. The shadow payment system consists of firms offering core payment functions outside the perimeter of conventional bank regulation (e.g. P2P, mobile money, cryptocurrencies, etc.). They ‘can’ operate under private law (rather than financial regulation) to minimise risk to customers. Many of the private law mechanisms, however, are not used by shadow payment entities. The level of protection, therefore, is far below that enjoyed by users of conventional banks. The research paper on shadow payments will be published by the SWIFT Institute in mid-October. Register here on our website to ensure you receive the research.

Kristin van Zwieten

Instant payments are fast (pardon the pun) becoming the norm in many parts of the world. The infrastructure behind them is, however, changing. Three mechanisms are driving the change. The speed of transactions; complex systems are unbundling into modules; and increased regulatory pressures. Jonas Hedman from the Copenhagen Business School is leading new SWIFT Institute sponsored research in this area. Jonas advised that banks need to build the instant payment infrastructure into their platform strategy. Furthermore, there is a greater need to share data in an instant payments environment, and so standards are increasingly important. The research is underway and will be published in the coming months.

Jonas Hedman

Our final session took place on the Spotlight Stage, and featured Tim Maurer from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Tim presented the new cyber security capacity building toolkit, sponsored by the SWIFT Institute. The toolkit takes the best cyber security guidance from a variety of sources around the world and puts it into a straightforward structure of one page guides aimed at bank board members, CEOs and CISOs. The toolkit is being promoted globally by SWIFT, the IMF and FS-ISAC, amongst others. You can download the toolkit here on our website under Research.

Tim Maurer’s Cyber Toolbox

Sibos would not be complete without the many evening receptions. Tonight I had the pleasure of attending three of them. First up was the second (annual?) WOW event – Woman of the World. Focussing on the importance of female leadership in the financial industry, it was at the first WOW event in Sydney that SWIFT Global Head of HR, Rosemary Stone, announced a new SWIFT Institute research grant looking at gender diversity in the financial industry. The results of that research will be presented at our Sibos lunch & learn tomorrow. My next event was the SWIFT cybersecurity reception. I ended the evening at a reception hosted by Kimmo Soramäki, founder and CEO of FNA (Financial Network Analytics). Dr Soramäki received one of the first ever SWIFT Institute grants in 2012, looking at the global network of payment flows.

Our industry is about connections and relationships. Sibos brings that into clear focus. We have one day to go, and it sure to be interesting. Tomorrow is the first ever Sibos Talent Thursday. On the SWIFT Institute agenda is our fourth Student Challenge featuring five university student teams presenting their ideas on using AI to improve fraud detection in payments. Our lunch & learn will see the aforementioned gender diversity research presented. And we will feature three of the Ethics & Trust in Finance Prize nominees who will present their ideas on how to improve our industry. Finally, during the Sibos Closing Plenary, the winner of our Student Challenge will be presented. A full day ahead, featuring the leaders of tomorrow.