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Sibos 2009 - Sunday

As I rode in to Hong Kong on the very efficient Airport Express train, I noticed something about this Sibos venue which differs from many of the previous locations: industry.

It's impossible to escape the fact that Hong Kong's shipping business is on a scale that defies description and many of those electronic, plastic and textile goods are produced locally. So industrial production and transportation are very close to the banking community which serves them.

Many previous Sibos venues have less of a direct link to the drivers for consumption of banking services. Casting my mind back, I can think only of Singapore and possibly Sydney as recent venues which still are industrial and not post-industrial.

The link ? It's hard to overlook the fact that these are all Pacific-rim countries and it's also difficult to ignore the innovation in payments happening here. At the supermarket today, buying an obligatory bottle of water, the previous customer paid using a NFC "card" embedded in a watch. I'm also told that Hong Kong has broadband access for all its citizens. Is it the proximity of the industrial and the banking sectors that drives this need and capability to make things better? I aim to find out this week.

Finally, my hopes for Sibos are that we can continue the discussions curtailed last year by the instability in bank confidence highlighted by the failure of Lehman Brothers. I believe that the industry missed a good opportunity in Vienna to have the difficult discussions about SEPA and I am not sure that we have since manage to achieve the level of critical dialogue necessary to really understand the key steps.

It seems odd to be thinking about SEPA in Asia-Pacific, but perhaps here we shall find the right commitment and level of innovation to help European citizens, governments and corporates find the right solutions to their payments needs.

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