Trade finance first to be disrupted by Internet of Things say bank CIOs

Trade finance first to be disrupted by Internet of Things say bank CIOs

In a rare session for Sibos 2015, having almost no mention of blockchain, leading technologists from three of the world’s largest banks shared their views on the transformative effect of digital technologies on the business of banking.

Billed as a session on the Internet of Things (IoT) and core banking systems the discussion at the Marina Bay Sands convention centre in Singapore ranged across a variety of topics, illustrating the diverse skills and experiences needed to direct information technology in a large, modern financial institution.

Chief technologists from UBS, ANZ and Standard Chartered shared their perspectives on how banks take and apply technology to the conflicting challenges of operational efficiency and business transformation.

Oliver Bussman, the CIO at UBS and formerly CIO at technology firm SAP, identified trade finance as an immediate target to be reinvented by the Internet of Things.

“Trade Finance is ripe for reinvention," he told the audience. "It is very complicated, very time and paper intensive. When the movement of physical goods can be linked it can be simplified massively going forwards. It is an area ready to be disrupted.”

“Customer experience is important in wholesale too,” said Patrick Maes, CTO at ANZ. “Corporate treasurers want to transact from the golf course too, so the same issues apply as they do with consumer services.”

The CIOs were prompted to explain how they manage in the current environment, with fintech insurgents gathering both confidence and capital.

“Disruption is simply change at high speed,” commented Maes. “Don’t look to the current players to predict the future. Remember we are closer now to 2030, than we are to 2000.”

Michael Gorriz, group CIO, Standard Chartered, questioned whether some popular orthodoxies - such as ‘fail fast’ - transferred well to the banking environment: “A fintech startup is usually a couple of founders with a crazy idea who are happy to take a risk. And let’s not forget, eighty five percent of startups fail. That doesn’t transfer well to the expected career structure within a bank. We don’t reward people who fail.”

Patrick Maes echoed the recent statements from the chairman of BBVA, Francisco Gonzalez, that the future model for a bank will be closer to that of a software business.

All three, whether deliberately or subconsciously, used the language of the software industry to describe their own businesses, referring to the need to use APIs for agility and to build out protective ecosystems of partners and suppliers.

When asked about suppliers, Michael Gorriz, himself from a career in the automotive industry, used that business model as an example to illustrate how banks needed to rely upon key suppliers in much the same way as car manufacturers depend upon a supply chain of specialists. “I’m looking for partners with capabilities I don’t have," he said. "Specialisation is the key to selection.”

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