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Standards Forum: We are going to need a bigger booth!

Day One is in the books. A couple of the sessions were standing room only.  Luckily, there is room to expand in the aisles... unlike Innotribe which had to turn people away from the API session. Bah!

The festivities kicked off with a showcase of regional standards activity before a packed audience.  Prior to SWIFT’s expansion of their presence in Singapore in 2011 there was no local representation of the Standards team.  Perhaps it is now no coincidence that ISO 20022 is under the hood in so many initiatives across Asia Pacific.

Alex Kech facilitated discussions with representatives from India, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, and the Asian Development Bank.  The message from all five was consistent.  ISO 20022 is the obvious choice… the natural choice.  Singapore even talked about local market extensions. Love it!!  But surely it is way too early in the morning to be talking about Supplementary Data Components!

Stephen Lindsay formally declared the Standards Forum as open for business, and this was immediately followed by a session entitled "Why standards should be a boardroom topic" facilitated by my old friend James Whittle. 

There are, of course, plenty of examples of standards creeping into the boardroom.  Companies often wager product strategy based on a new or emerging standard.  Anyone remember Betamax? 

Generally speaking I think it is fair to say that Boards understand the value of standards.  It’s also fair to say that Boards generally don’t talk about stuff just for the sake of talking about it.  If they have a reason for discussing standards you can bet that they will be. 

In mature products and markets standards are typically not a source of competitive advantage. Companies compete on other value-add services; price, TCO, quality of service, etc  In this case it is not likely that standards feature in the board discussions. 

What about 20022?

Decisions to leverage ISO 20022 for a refreshed Market Infrastructure platform will almost certainly have been ratified at Board level by each respective MI… but what about the FIs?  It’s possible that large global banks may have had cause to mention 20022 to their Boards in the context of a major initiative such as SEPA; but it’s hard to imagine that 20022 will figure much on the agendas of small-mid sized banks or asset managers. 

We heard from the panel that:

- "Regulators are forcing Boards to conversation around standards",  Interesting. And more interestingly still was the observation that… "as well as being a regulator and policy maker and general wielder of ye-olde-big-stick, governments represent the largest volume of payments messages in most markets, 30% in GB…  And yet they are not part of the standards conversation."   There really is no reason why that should be the case.

- "Standards are an enabler that create level playing field that serves as a basis for competition".  Completely agree.

- "Standards are a hygiene factor".  A curious phrase that I hadn’t heard before (in the context of standards)… presumably meaning that standards are something that everyone has to do but no-one likes talking about…  Whoa Nellie! I won’t have that…  Everyone knows we LOVE talking about standards, right?

The vendor on the panel lamented the fact that technology vendors are not at the standards table.  Hmm. Maybe so… but there are plenty ways to contribute and engage once you understand the governance models of standards bodies, so I’m not buying that.

The panel pondered the question:  What can we learn from the healthcare and hi-tech industries? They appear to be doing a better job with rapid adoption of standards. Again maybe so, but can we seriously hide behind the argument that money is somehow more important than one’s medical history?   Questionable.

Over lunch we had a round table session to discuss the benefits of 20022… perhaps more on that later… and the final session of the day was an introduction to the Harmonisation Framework featuring Magdelene Goh sporting a fantastic Singapore Airlines kebaya. We’re definitely taking this airline analogy to a … whole… ‘nother… level… More to come on Harmonization tomorrow. 

Have a good night everyone… we go again first thing in the morning.



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Standards Forum

The Standards Forum is the place where business and standardisation meet. This group would like to facilitate and encourage dialogue around standardisation in the financial industry, and share views, insights and updates on how financial standards can contribute to reducing cost and increasing efficiency when tackling today's challenges such as automation, compliance, and regulation.

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