Blockchain still high on the agenda according to Finextra’s review of discussions in Geneva, while excitement about AI grows
Discussions during Swift’s annual Sibos conference in Geneva were dominated by talk of open banking and open APIs, which create both opportunities and challenges for banks. This is the first of five key takeaways from the event explored in Finextra’s review of Sibos 2016, produced in association with SAP, and published today.
It was clear from Finextra’s interviews with industry leaders during the event as well as from the discussions on the main stages of the conference that banks increasingly understand open banking, underpinned by open APIs, is an opportunity for them. However, as the new report details, it was also clear that banks face a challenge in ensuring their systems can handle open APIs.
Open banking will be a spur to further collaboration between banks and fintechs – as will a number of other key drivers shaping the industry currently, as the report examines. Collaboration between banks and their partners will be essential for example if the industry is to tackle and neutralise the challenges of cybercrime and regulation (another major discussion focus highlighted in the Finextra review).
In this context, ‘regtech’ was a hot topic in Geneva. As Mathieu Maurier, Global Head of Sales and Relationship Management, Societe Generale Securities Services, told Finextra: “Firms have huge regulatory constraints, and are dealing with a lot of data. Fintechs and regtechs are there to help us move from big data to smart data, and to be more nimble and more agile.”
Collaboration is also critical to drive the full benefits of blockchain, according to Sibos participants – as once again the ‘b word’ made it into many conversations during the event. The Finextra report explores how the Sibos community viewed the progress of distributed ledger technology since the major splash it made in Singapore last year, as well as looking at areas in which market participants see more work is needed.
If the talk of blockchain was expected, then the degree to which machine learning, AI and robotics coloured conversations during the event did surprise some. Sanoke Viswanathan, Chief Administration Officer and Interim Chief Information Officer for the Corporate and Investment Bank at JP Morgan, was in no doubt about the “huge applicability of software bots across the banking system”, as he told delegates. “We’ve applied them in a number of spaces and we’ve found it very helpful in taking a lot of automated repetitive tasks off the humans and doing them in a systematic way in the background. In the future there will be more and more machine learning built bots that will help us interact in a more intelligent way with our clients.”
Client interaction, and making it world class, was another major preoccupation of Sibos attendees of course. Once again it was clear from discussions during the event that collaboration between banks and fintechs, alongside essential organisational and cultural change within banks, is vital to optimise customer experience.
To find out more about how the topics of APIs and open banking, cyber and regulation, blockchain, artificial intelligence and customer experience dominated discussions at Sibos in Geneva, please download the report.