Sibos 2017: Swift CEO claims cyberthreats becoming 'manageable nuisance'

Sibos 2017: Swift CEO claims cyberthreats becoming 'manageable nuisance'

In recognition of two of the central threats facing his organisation - hackers and upstart rivals - Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt used his opening remarks at this year's Sibos in Toronto to talk up his gpi and cybersecurity programmes.

Speaking to a packed auditorium in downtown Toronto, a punchy Leibbrandt took aim at President Trump, Brexit and Bitcoin (which resembles, to the Dutchman, a certain flower that was briefly extremely valuable in the 17th century).

However, his most pointed jibe was reserved for Ripple, which has been aggressively pushing its enterprise blockchain network as a genuine Swift alternative.

In part in response to the threat, Swift has developed its gpi (global payments innovation) programme, which comprises a range of service level agreements intended to improve the customer experience in correspondent banking by increasing the speed, transparency and predictability of cross-border payments.

Parking its tanks on Swift's lawn, Ripple is hosting its own conference, called Swell, in Toronto this week, prompting Leibbrandt to note that gpi has already been used to process two million payments, "more a tsunami than a swell".

Whether Ripple becomes a serious threat to Swift is yet to be seen, but one very real danger for the group is cybersecurity.

Swift was forced into action following the infamous 2016 $81 million hack at Bangladesh Bank, introducing a range of measures, such as a real-time payment controls service, designed to make it more difficult for crooks to use its network to steal money from member banks.

Leibbrandt expressed confidence that the measures are working, suggesting that cybersecurity has gone from a potential lethal threat to a "manageable nuisance".

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