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Day one at the International Payments Summit

The International Payments Summit (IPS) here in London kicked off this morning, and some of the usual themes have already come to the fore.  It was no surprise that the straw poll by IPS of the delegates revealed that regulation will continue to be the most important business driver in 2010 as well as one of the biggest constraints to payment transaction growth. Despite the sense of weariness in the banking industry around the issue, it’s clear that regulation will have to remain at least a ‘warm’ topic for now.

Another subject that has come up repeatedly today is around the relationship between banks and their corporate customers.  Further results of the straw poll during the first session of the day show that around 45 per cent of delegates felt that developing their existing client base would be their main source of future growth. Empowering customers with information to enable the management of liquidity, fraud and other risks, along with building agility into payment processes will be crucial to ensuring an effective working relationship between banks and corporates.

Finally, a strong theme of the conference so far is that Asia, particularly China, is emerging as a future powerhouse of the banking industry. In fact, when ranked by market value, China now has three of the largest banks in the world. As mentioned by my colleague Louis Blatt at Sibos 2009 - in order to remain competitive with these Asian challengers, Western banks need to quickly understand that cost cutting in the payments area must be balanced with revenue-generating customer-centric agility. With 46 per cent of delegates stating that investing in cost cutting strategies is still the number one priority, I’m sure this balance will be brought up time and time again at IPS over the next few days.

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