As the Sibos conference and exhibition in Vienna draws to a close, we look back on a turbulent week.
The timing of this year's Sibos banking operations conference in Vienna had a huge impact on the kind of dialogue taking place. Of course, organisers couldn't have known when they set the date that the 6,000-plus delegates would find themselves at the eye of the storm of bank closures and emergency mergers. As events developed last week and over the weekend, many bankers planning to attend Sibos, particularly those from US banks, were forced to remain at work.
Risk management and the credit crunch were established months ago as key themes for the conference programme, but these sessions took on an extra edge due to the knock-on effects of Lehmans' decline and the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, as well as the proposed Lloyds TSB-HBOS merger. The subject of financial industry crisis also dominated talk on the exhibition floor and networking events. But there was still plenty of optimism to be found.
Elsewhere, the ever-widening scope of conference sessions ranged from whether hedge funds are evil or good to the role of regulators, Web 2.0 and corporate social responsibility.
On Swift's core subject area - payments - the main event was the launch of the Swift Alliance Lite product for further opening up use of the Swift networks to smaller corporates (and fund managers) wanting to communicate electronically with their banks.
Finextra shot a video interview with Paul Davis and Joerg Beekmann of PacNet Services, about their experiences of connecting to the Swift network as a corporate, and their recommendations for things Swift could do to ease the administrative burden.
As payments processing, clearing and settlement become increasingly cross-border in Europe, we talked to Swedish national processor BGC about its decision to outsource its IT development and infrastructure to the UK's VocaLink.
Futher video interviews with business leaders from Sterci and Ace Software provide insight into the latest trends in service-oriented architecture, ISO 20022 standards development and intelligent software to support banks' payment activities.
We also spoke with Ifor Williams of Fundtech on the green impact of e-invoicing, and with Swift's guest speaker for its CSR breakfast, Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, about prioritising business activities and CSR investments to do the most good.
More good feedback and opinions from Finextra community members blogging from Sibos - on everything from regulatory engagement to exhibition floor mileage - can be found in our SibosOnline blogs.
So now, as everyone heads to the airport, we look forward to next year's event in Hong Kong, where the focus on developments in the Asian financial services industry will hopefully not be accompanied by any more bad news for the global financial system.