At the occasion of the
2017 Standards Forum to be held in Toronto, Canada from 16 to 19 October, I interviewed some SWIFT standards experts about the content of this year's programme. During the coming weeks, my posts will offer readers a sneak-preview of what people can expect
to hear about in Toronto.
In this first blog, I interviewed Stephen Lindsay, Head of Standards, and
Patrik Neutjens, Head of Community Engagement, at SWIFT about the highlights and approach of this year's event.
Paul Miserez: Stephen, what do you expect will be the highlights of this year's Sibos Standards Forum?
Stephen Lindsay: This year's overall theme will be "Standards – Navigating the Future". I would like to mention three areas that I believe are going to draw most attention at this year's Sibos Standards Forum.
A first one is geo-politics. Post financial crisis, the Group of Twenty (G20) decided that cooperation on market surveillance was going to be absolutely necessary to avoid similar events from re-occurring in the future. The financial industry
has been working at a global level to harmonise regulation. Message standards are a big part of this, as they are the means to reflect regulatory requirements in a common format, used by all players. However, we are seeing that the political impetus to further
harmonise regulation seems to dissipate somewhat. That is why we must persuade regulators that cooperation is crucial to achieve what they set out to do. I believe this is really a concern that goes beyond the standards community.
A second topic is payments data quality and compliance. The financial industry is facing a host of challenges in countering financial crime and in implementing related regulatory and reporting requirements. I look forward to debate with
the community how standards, market practice and technology can all help to meet these challenges. For instance, the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) recommendation to better structure address fields in SWIFT message standards is an area where the financial
industry will work in tandem with the global compliance community. This should not only result in more 'correct' standards; more structure also means more opportunities for automation (via straight-through processing) and cost savings. In this case, the driver
is to satisfy compliance requirements."
New Technologies will be another major theme. The existing paradigm in the financial industry that automation is based on the exchange of structured financial messages, supported by messaging and business standards is changing quickly under
the influence of regulation and competition. I really believe that we are shifting to a new paradigm where technology is becoming the key enabler to transform our industry. Future business processes will use the most suitable technology at each step of the
transaction chain, such as mobile banking or eBanking. They will be provided by non-bank third-party providers (TPPs) utilising Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for the payment initiation, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for clearing and settlement
and conventional messaging for interbank flows. The risk of such 'distributed model' is that data may be truncated, misinterpreted or corrupted along the way. To mitigate this risk, it will be essential and urgent to introduce some principles to ensure overall
consistency, independently of whatever technologies or providers are used. In our opinion, the answer lies in extending and adapting existing business standards to new technologies, something ISO 20022 is perfectly equipped to do!
Miserez: Patrik, will this year's Sibos Standards Forum approach be different from the one used last year?
Patrik Neutjens: Yes! The Standards Forum will occupy two different venues located close to one another. For starters, we will have a dedicated session room accommodating some 130 people, where seven main sessions will be held, covering
our main industry topics. Secondly, as before, there will be a stand that will host fifteen more focused training and expert sessions, as well as workshops and networking events. The conference debate can be continued here in a more interactive manner, products
can be demoed, experts are at hand, and networking events will be held during lunch time and in the afternoons. Visitors will also have an opportunity to meet session speakers here and pick up any collateral.
Miserez: What made you change a tried and tested approach?
Neutjens: Sometimes one has to break what's not broken. [smiles] As you can imagine, combining two different formats – for both a conference and a stand – within the same physical constraints has given us some challenges in previous years.
This year we wanted to make sure that we offer the best infrastructure to lend maximum support to our different activities. We will still have our stand space to meet and discuss with people. But now we will also use a separate and dedicated conference room
to cover our main standards and industry themes, which is appreciated by our senior speakers and panellists, and which can accommodate a much larger audience than before. To allow visitors to get the most out of the time they spend at the Standards Forum,
we will continue to use the Standards Forum stand for more interactive work sessions, trainings, expert workshops, etc.
Watch this space for more interviews over the coming weeks!