EXCLUSIVE: Sibos 2021, Day 1
Sibos has begun. It is an annual financial conference organized by SWIFT, in which the biggest banks across the world share insights, make connections, and host talks on certain topics that are most relevant to today as well as the future. Here, we will recap three particularly important and interesting discussions. Below every talk, the speakers will be listed.
Unlocking the Value of BaaS and Contextual Finance in Wholesale Banking.
- Angus Ross (Finastra).
- Eli Rosner (Finastra).
- Andy Hirst (SAP).
- Mark Williamson (HSBC).
- Valli Ardalan (Visa).
Opening up with a discussion on HSBC’s 2018 paper, ‘Banking of the Future’, we saw an insight into how a mindset of “the customer trusting the bank to take actions for them” has now evolved with the times. Not only for retail customers, but for corporate customers as well. As Mark Williamson elaborated, HSBC is dedicated to embedding finance into a customer’s journey; the market has become so digital, and continues to become even more digital, that everything else has evolved with it. So right now, HSBC’s goal is “putting finance at the right place at the right time for our customers.”
Further into the talk, one of the highlight questions was focused on the keys to success. Banks, points of sale, and middlemen; who will lead the way with innovation?
Of all the answers that came, none settling on a single leader or force driving the movement, one particularly interesting point from Valli Ardalan was that “the pandemic has exposed industry inefficiencies across the board.” There’s an increased demand, from the end user, for a better experience overall; cost, efficiency, security, customization, reach. That’s where Visa’s network of networks strategy comes in – to be a single connection for people to move money, regardless if it’s on their network or beyond that.
Hiding in Plain Sight: Defending Against a Trojan Horse
- Emram Islam (IMF).
- Kelly Bissell (Accenture).
- Martin Kyle (Canadian Payments Association).
- Lisa Lee (Microsoft).
- Tim McNulty (Barclays).
In the wake of the SolarWinds attack in 2020, the financial ecosystem has been exposed to its dependency on third party providers. While attacks on the supply chain are nothing new, to the point that the term “Trojan Horse” is still used, 2020 and the COVID pandemic have really increased the danger, frequency, and sophistication of attacks in the cyber world.
As Martin Kyle highlights, a particularly important takeaway from this event is that companies should be asking vital questions. “What’s inside your software? Where did the code originate from? What vulnerabilities does it have?” To sufficiently answer those questions, and to secure assurance from third party providers, we need communication and collaboration on all fronts. To focus, and to talk about what’s working, what’s not working, running workshops and exercising.
As Martin later says, “if you’re worried about communication, start with collaboration.”
One observation that is unavoidable, especially with the cyber world’s increased attacks, is that today is the golden age of ransomware attacks. And no greater answer, no greater solution to that, comes from Kelly Bissell. If you can’t communicate in a game, you’re not going to win. Ransomware is like that. What can we do? Throw a wrench into it. On purpose. Use chaos to test that playbook, strengthen the communications between suppliers, so when it happens? It’s muscle memory. An excellent moment all around.
Overall, an enlightening talk. Cyberattacks, ransomware, it’s an industry challenge. “We need to be more comfortable sharing insights and having conversations like this,” as Tim McNulty says.
SWIFT Innotribe – Opening Speaker. Dr. Michio Kaku.
As the start of Innotribe, SWIFT’s fintech innovation initiative, Dr. Michio Kaku opened the floor with a question. As he says, the “question of all questions.”
Where does wealth come from?
Throughout history, we had previously lived in poverty. One might say that, 200 years ago, we solved that problem by introducing taxes. Yet, that was no more than transferring what wealth we had. Was it instead by printing money? Not exactly. Dr. Kaku argues that physics is what created wealth; humanity created the industrial revolution, then we discovered electricity, and then we find ourselves in the age we’re in today. The Internet. The PC.
“Oil that greases the wheels of capitalism is going to be replaced by data.” We’ll see artificial intelligence, we’ll see quantum computers, wealth comes from information and innovation. This could change the foundations of capitalism as we know it. In a world where we might know all the intricacies of supply and demand, the game of wealth will take on a wholly different form. Innovation will help eliminate redundancies, will streamline processes, from commodity capitalism to intellectual capitalism.
Michio’s talk is a fascinating glimpse into the future, into where innovation lies, and the possible fourth and fifth waves of technological breakthroughs. An age where capitalism is perfect. We, as humans, “represent something that robots cannot provide: intellectual capital.” Innovation, leadership, analysis, these are all qualities that cannot be replicated.
Tailing off this talk – and all the above talks – we will surely see a plethora of innovations and solutions to current problems. These talks have highlighted a theme of how the pandemic has accelerated the industry to phenomenal speeds, and how we’re all eagerly anticipating who will be the breakthrough leader, who will pave the way forward, and who will drive that innovation. It is with great hope that we’ll see plenty of answers, and plenty of possibilities, in Sibos 2021.
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