More than 8,000 people of 143 nationalities are attending Sibos in Singapore this year, SWIFT Chairman Yawar Shah said as he kicked off the plenary session for Sibos.
The growth of Asia
In his keynote address, DBS Bank CEO Piyush Gupta focused on two broad themes.
The Asia story is alive and well despite the recent downturn in China and Gupta believes the Asian story and transition from factory of the world to marketplace of the world is immutable. Demographics, urbanisation, infrastructure and consumer spending are all powering the shift. While China is slowing, it is on track with plans for growth that it laid out five years ago and central bank liberalisation is continuing to support the shift to a market economy.
Technology and disruption are more imminent in Asia than elsewhere. Gupta said some of the most disruptive technology changes are in payments, with innovations in China ranging from algorithmic lending to facial recognition being just a few examples with major impact.
Gupta uses five prisms as he thinks about this new world order. First, the shift from online to mobile has profoundly shifted consumer behaviour because the bank is in their pocket. Next, the social sharing economy disintermediates everything from transport to capital markets. Then, data analytics enable banks to create solutions they couldn’t even identify ten years ago. Fourth, “technology on tap” through the cloud enables new solutions. And finally, the internet of things is becoming the internet of value.
While transaction banking can leverage the power of the incumbent amidst the change, banks also need to make sure they don’t end up being dumb pipes like the telcos, Gupta explained.
What’s new at Sibos
Shah said key changes at Sibos since the last time the conference was in Singapore, in 2003, include a tripling of volumes, a drop in costs, growth in the securities business, and a shift from West to East. SWIFT has grown over the years as well, with staff increasing to 2,000 people and new focuses on financial crime compliance as well as market infrastructure growth.
The focus as SWIFT looks towards 2020 will be to expand the core business, further enhance infrastructures and solidify financial crime compliance initiatives. One area where SWIFT needs to do better, he noted, is gender diversity.
The focus at SWIFT
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SWIFT CEO Gottfried Liebbrandt echoed these themes as he focused on what he called the three global forces reshaping the world: West to East; geopolitics and regulation; and technology and cyber.
While he doesn’t expect the RMB to be a reserve currency of the world, he said the pendulum is moving back to the East. Banks are also dealing with three waves of regulation after the financial crisis, from greater capital requirements to increased compliance and then requirements for access to local data, source codes and encryption keys. And while digitisation requires resources to deal with cyber-threats, technology also offers opportunities including distributed ledger technology.
At SWIFT, Gottfried said, the key is transformation to give better value to customers.