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Sibos 2009 - Monday

I'm hoping that we're not starting a new tradition of "crisis Monday" at Sibos. Last year, it was fears of banking system collapse and this year it's the imminent typhoon threat to the over 5,000 attendees at the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition centre.

Perhaps to get it out of the way before Sibos had properly started, the industry and political leaders got together to discuss whether SEPA had achieved "cruising altitude". Putting aside questions of whether they were all on the same plane, one topic still has not been resolved although all parties regard it as critical: the SEPA end date. At least now we can agree what the end date is - the time when all domestic clearing has moved across to SEPA standards - but we still have disagreement over how to address the country variations, or "additional optional services", perceived to be necessary to migrate domestic clearing harmoniously.

So while European concerns still continue, Asia moves forwards: Japan is considering implementation of the International Bank Account Number, falling into line with an increasing number of countries and, of course, all of Europe.

So what have we learnt from SEPA? Who should take responsibility for governance of the initiative? Who should be responsible for developing and implementing the standards and systems needed? How can Asia get agreement without the context of the European project or previous experience?

The answers to these questions are not clear with the European Commission proposing a new governance structure for SEPA and the project not yet nearing completion. Hopefully by the time we finish the European payments reform it will be in time for Asia to learn from it.


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