Banking co-operative Swift has announced that former Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates will give the closing plenary address at the the annual Swift international banking and operations seminar, Sibos, in Boston.
As Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates will explain the foundation's work to bring financial services to the poor, and highlight how digital financial services and partnerships can provide opportunities for financial institutions to serve people in the developing world.
The last time Gates pitched up at a banking conference was at the Bank Administration Institute's annual show in 199. He received a hostile reception after dismissing retail banks as 'dinosaurs' that would get left behind by the march of technology. He was later forced into a hasty retraction and clarification after some of the dinosaurs in the audience threatened to take a bite out of the tech giant's revenue with a boycott of Microsoft products.
Gate's prophecy may have come 20 years too early. In more recent times, Microsoft and the banking industry alike have been outflanked by a surge in technological innovation which has left both looking nervously over their shoulders at more nimble digital-focused competitors.
Swift likes to think of Sibos as the Davos of the banking industry, and the landing of Bill Gates as a keynote goes some way to cementing its status.
Jamie Forese, co-president of Citigroup, will give the Sibos opening plenary address on Monday, 29 September.