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EXCLUSIVE: Day 2 of Sibos 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Day 2 of Sibos 2021 | Fintech Finance

The second day of Sibos kicked off with an interesting discussion on what a 21st century bank should look like. Sibos’ 2021 theme of recharging global banking through digital acceleration, technological innovation, managing risk, greater diversity and sustainability encapsulates what is at the forefront of future banking. Take a look at what we thought of Day 1 of Sibos 2021.

Central banks play a crucial role in both cultivating innovation within the financial sector and balancing this with the assurance of economic and financial stability, a task that has become increasingly important and difficult with the explosion of financial technologies and services available in recent years. Howard Lee, Deputy Chief Executive at HKMA, as well as Patricia Haas Cleveland, US President of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, who also served as the moderator of the panel, prompted discussion on the topic of what the future of banking looks like as well as the value of things such as collaboration in solving common problems faced by central and commercial banks. Most notably, concerns around the future are revolving around how we as a society can achieve inclusive finance as well as ‘Green Finance’, with the latter being discussed in tandem with the importance of the role that networks such as the NGFS (Network for Greening the Financial System) have to play.

This topic of future digital banking was followed up by leading experts in the field, Sean Foley, Sophie Gilder, Jon O’Neill and Anju Patwardhan delving deeper. Digital technology in recent years has somewhat taken over most aspects of daily life and finance is no different. Digitization within finance has led to an increase in speed, functionality and innovation, epitomised in digitally native banks’ ability to deliver services quicker and often more efficiently than their non-digitally native counterparts.

The topic of stablecoins was raised and their level of legitimacy, both in their current state and possible limits. Sophie Gilder, a founding member of the x15ventures Team at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, highlighted the importance and necessity for heavy regulation within all areas of the financial sector but even more so with technology which is still in its infancy.

Jon O’Neill, director at HSBC Bank PLC, raised a similarly thought-provoking analysis of the volatility of online currencies which, as a result of minimal regulation, can circumvent anti-money laundering. Whilst during this talk, the surface has only been scratched regarding cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and CBDC’s, the topic remains an important one later explored at Sibos by Celent.

Also featured throughout the day were a series of poignant and impactful talks regarding the under-represented demographic of women within Finance. Discussion began with Kristy Duncan (featured in the top photo), founder of Women in Payments, a network dedicated to the support of career development for women across the globe, interviewing Chung Sum Tue Natalie (featured in the bottom photo), Director and Co-Founder of V’air Hong Kong. The two women hit on important subject matters regarding the barriers faced by women and the importance of representation and diversity, a theme which transcended throughout Sibos.

The topic of Women within Finance was further explored during a panel on designing gender intelligent Fintechs – by Financial Alliance for Women. Alongside bringing to light the instrumental role women play within finance, with the expected control of wealth globally by women serving to be $72 Trillion, the panel considered the barriers faced and the need for leading Fintechs to take a gender lens to their business and capture the world’s fastest growing market.

With there existing an estimated $700 Billion revenue opportunity from better serving women as customers it is individuals such as Inez Murray, CEO of the Financial Alliance for Women, who offer valuable insight into how women are not being properly served. The alliance itself provides members with a unique opportunity for peer learning, networking and giving them the resources they need to serve women customers well. The discussion was eye-opening in its aim to educate and inform on important issues and prejudices occurring within finance such as how 72% of men are included in the financial world compared to just 65% of women.

Proceeding these discussions came an analysis of Identity and trust within banking. Whilst digital identity has been at the centre of most digital financial discussions for the past ten years, there still seems to be minimal signs of digital identity issues being solved globally. This panel highlighted the many problems of the digital economy being rooted within the lack of online identity framework. Following this came an interesting debate, with an attempt to nail down what is actually meant by digital identities, what we want from them, and the opportunities that they could unlock.

With talks of the future dominating many panels it is only fitting that AI be discussed and Sibos have not ignored the ominous presence of AI, with in-depth analysis occurring late during the day regarding how to use the power of the community to deploy AI in its own words ‘@ scale’. Throughout Sibos the value of individuals new to the world of Finance coming from STEM backgrounds has been recognised and appreciated and was a topic more present than ever during AI discussions. The intense focus on transformative AI specifically, as well as Machine Learning, led to thought-provoking talks of what our futures hold, what roles AI play within them and how our roles as operators and individuals will shift with the introduction and assimilation of AI systems.

As Day 2 of Sibos comes to an end, reflection on what was learnt is necessary, the ever high standards of sibos resulted in valuable discussion spanning topics from, gender, the environment and the future of Banking. This was amongst an array of more intimate talks I have not touched on including Sibos’ meet the experts from Standard Bank, Hewlett Packard, SAS among many others. To sum up the discussions had during day 2 of Sibos, the future, whilst it is not perfect, remains bright.

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