Welcome to Finextra's live coverage of the Swift Latin American Regional Conference 2019, in Panama City. This event will focus on important issues affecting the financial industry in the region, and how the financial community can accelerate digital transformation.
17.48: While day one is now over, we will be back tomorrow where the LARC 2019 programme will continue. See you then!
17.46: That concludes the session, and Swift's Blanco takes to the stage for some closing words. He says there has been so much talk about the revolution in the financial community and that banks have the opportunity to become leaders - they have the customers and have seen the benefits of collaboration with fintechs and other banks in certain circumstances.
17.44: With regards to cyber security, it is important that senior management understands that you are always exposed, but that you are investing in a way that minimises this risk as much as possible. He adds that collaboration is vital in this regard, as cyber criminals could target anyone, anywhere.
17.42: Make change that creates the opportunity to add value, Paredes says. Don't be afraid to make a mistake, he says, as that's the only way you can learn - just make sure that you fail fast.
17.39: Banco General has a digital university to teach customers about digital payments in areas such as online payments, Paredes says. Any digital transformation has to have the customer at its centre, he adds. When it comes to digital transformation Paredes says institutions need to ask themselves three fundamental questions: what do I need to continue to do, what do I need to start to do, and what do I need to stop doing.
17.35: Paredes says there needs to be a focus on the unbanked in the country, and institutions need to think about how digital solutions can be used to bring these people into the financial services.
17.33: Paredes says that Panama will celebrate its 500th anniversary this year, so it is very appropriate that LARC is being held here in 2019. He adds that while technology is important for innovation, it is critical not to forget the human element.
17.31: Luis García de Paredes, VPE de Operaciones y Tecnologia at Banco General now takes to the stage to deliver some closing thoughts of the day.
17.30: Banks in Latin America need to understand their customers, particularly the needs of single mothers, Zúñiga says. Banks tend not to think about the real issues that these women face, so what is the point of innovation if you are not going to focus on these customers, he questions.
17.26: Zúñiga says that VillageCapital creates a baseline for all innovative financial services firms. They also help corporates think like a start-up, he adds.
17.25: Loan sharks still exist because they provide services faster than traditional options, Zúñiga says. This is the challenge that banks face, understanding the need of the people.
17.20: Big technology companies have services that intuitively solve customer problems, which makes them a threat to traditional banks, Zúñiga says. How are banks capturing ideas and using them in a way that brings value to customers?
17.18: He uses innovation in the car industry as an example from another industry through time, from the Ford Model T mass production, through to Volkswagen's innovation patents in the 1990s, to Tesla which is openly sharing its patents today. This attitude is transforming innovation, with ideas at the heart of the business. Tesla gain human capital by sharing its patents, Zúñiga says. He notes that this could easily happen in financial services.
17.15: Time now for Zúñiga's presentation. He starts by saying that there is a lot of excitement around innovation and fintechs, and maybe banks will find their very existence threatened by this, but do statistics really suggest this? He's going to investigate in this talk.
17.12: Saiovici closes by noting that 52% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared in the past 15 years. She uses the example of the Netflix evolution, from sending out DVDs in the post to its global domination as a digital platform, as something for companies and institutions to aspire to if they are to survive and succeed in the digital world.
17.10: AI can be used to reconcile payments, Saiovici says, citing BAML's Intelligent Receivables as an example of this. She adds that while the bank has access to global fintechs, some of these may have no experience in Latin America, so in these cases it makes good sense for the bank to partner with local fintechs.
17.07: Another example of innovation is the global digital disbursements that BAML has partnered with PayPal on, Saiovici says.
17.06: Saiovici says that regulations can be transformational, citing PSD2 in Europe as being a key driver for open banking around the world. This opens the opportunity for banks to offer services to corporates and banks via APIs. An example of this is the API Gateway integration proof of concept the bank has.
17.04: BAML has a GTS Innovation Program that is designed to identify, test and mature new technologies and capabilities to enhance the bank's global treasury solutions. Saiovici says that last year the bank invested US$14bn in technology. The Innovation Program particularly targets issues with client data analytics, connectivity, dynamic account management, and digital transactions. On data analytics, the bank has developed a client insights dashboard to enable strategic decision-making for their customers.
17.01: 90% of digital data has been created in the past two years, Saiovici says. Next she draws attention to how robotics is changing life in a variety of industries, replacing humans and increasing the speed of production. Banks also need to understand how to attract millennials into their workforce, when surveys say they would rather visit the dentist than work for a bank. Finally, with corporate customers, banks need to pay attention to the evolving role of the treasurer. All of these changes are happening at once, posing a challenge to banks.
16.55: Saiovici takes to the stage first, and will discuss how BAML views innovation, particularly in Latin America. Speaking of the future of her institution, she says that they have a history of innovation. From credit cards, to ATMs, to digital banking - without these innovations, banks wouldn't be where there are today.
16.47: Hopefully that gave you a flavour of what is going on in the fintech space here at LARC 2019, but now we are back in the plenary room for a session billed as a TED style TALK: Innovation in Latin America: Leading The Way or Falling Behind? Speaking in this session are Liba Saiovici, Managing Director, Latin America Product Management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
, and Sergio Zúñiga, Regional Manager, Latin America for Village Capital.
16.44: Increase started by targeting small companies where they thought they could be of most use, but today they also have relationships with companies of the scale of Nike and Shell. Increase also partners with FIs including BBVA and HSBC. Gatica says that the company intends to continue to create new products, expand regionally, and strengthen existing products.
16.42: Increase Card includes a dashboard that shows companies what they have sold and what they can expect to receive from the card company for the sale. Increase Conciliation helps companies reconcile their sales. Increase Creditos is the fintech's most recent product, which works on a company's credit score and helps them access sources of funding.
16.39: Finally, Nicolás Gatica, Vice President of Sales at Increase, an Argentinean fintech, takes to the stage. Gatica notes that all companies who want to accept credit cards face a complicated sale process, with a variety of fees and sources of information to manage. Increase creates products that collaborate with accounting and automate a number of these complications.
16.36: Sanchez closes by saying there are fintechs for all sizes and budgets, what is important is to identify the flexible fintech that best suits your business.
16.33: Alkanza offers a digital product that helps institutions reach markets that are currently untapped, Sanchez says. In the Latin American market, he says there is a population that currently doesn't have access to products like this. In research to see what people want to save for, Alkanza found that retirement and buying a house came out on top. Next, what drives people to save? Sanchez jokes that there are no funds for if you don't like your job any more or if you want a divorce.
16.29: Sanchez says that financial institutions must be part of the disruption if they want to survive. This involves investing in new capabilities, launching new innovative products, and collaborating with fintechs and other third parties. Alkanza offers a co-branding product to offer investment services.
16.27: Alkanza was launched around 5 years ago in Brazil, and today has global coverage across a number of mature and emerging markets. Sanchez brings up a slide of the Wells Fargo website and highlights a fintech that competes with them in each business line. However, he adds that the true threat could come from the big tech companies.
16.24: Next up is Alberto Sanchez Tello, Head of Business Development LatAm at Alkanza. He is talking about a B2B model in fintech. Alkanza is a digital wealth management tool.
16.22: Übank partners with a number of financial institutions across Latin America to offer this app to users in the region. The savings remain in the partner institution.
16.20: Sabah shows how the app gives users full visibility over what they have saved and where these funds are, giving them confidence. The app also tailors specific offers to the user that they can take advantage of if they want to. He also says that the app has an endless goals facility - when one savings goal is met it immediately rolls over onto the next savings goal, just as Netflix cues up the next episode of a show you're watching. Binge saving, if you will.
16.16: Not only does the app support people to save more, but it also helps them spend better as well. The app has a series of rules that allows users to save based on their lifestyle as well.
16.15: People will commit to a low saving amount so that they can actually save something, but ultimately this low level is not enough, Sabah says. He explains that his company has developed Übox, an app designed to promote savings in line with a person's lifestyle. They can configure their goals in the app, and the backend of the solution will calculate what they need to save and how often to achieve this. The app lets people see what they are saving towards and sets out the balance between spending and saving.
16.10: First up in the fintech showcase is Mijael Feldman Sabah, CEO & Co-Founder of Übank. He asks how many people in the audience are familiar with the feeling that they will start going to the gym, but next week not this week. He applies this to personal finance, in that consumers prefer spending to saving. The market is designed to make people spend money, he adds.
15.58: The Americas panel ends on that high note. Time now for a coffee break, but we will be popping in to the Latin American fintech space to try to catch some of the short presentations happening in there to see what's happening there. Stay tuned.
15.56: Myers highlights SoftBank's $5 billion technology growth fund for start-ups that can help promote growth in the region. Additionally, the growth of 5G across the region offers the prospect of growth and development in industries such as agriculture and mining.
15.53: Where do opportunities exist in Latin America? Irigoyen brings up Brazil as an example, and says that expectations have adjusted significantly since the most recent presidential election. The reform bill is expected to be passed by Q3 2019, and if you add that to a market friendly government being elected in Argentina, there are good economic news stories in the region.
15.45: Conversation moves to regional integration, and Pavoni asks how far along this process is. López says that trade flows in the region are much lower than could be expected. He adds that there is enough low hanging fruit in the region for this to be increased, however.
15.41: Mexico has made all the reforms you can think of, but now it only has growth of 1%, Irigoyen says, meaning that at some point they will have to do something. Effectively it is two countries in one, he says, with the north having growth of 3-4% while the south is in recession.
15.36: Globalisation had an influence for a long time, since the fall of the Soviet Union and China joined the WTO, but now there are drivers reversing this policy and instead more populist governments are on the rise, Irigoyen says, noting that today it feels more like a zero sum game that countries have to choose between one side or another.
15.28: Responding to an audience question, Myers says there's a big difference in the relationship LatAm has with China compared to the relationship that Africa has. Regulations in LatAm have been particularly helpful in this regard. López says that the economic relationships that LatAm has with other global regions has shifted beyond the traditional US/Europe axis. Irigoyen adds that China's operating model is changing as well, and there is a deceleration of long-term growth in LatAm as a result. However, he says that this means there is less likelihood of a populist government emerging in the region as a result.
15.23: Irigoyen says that Brazil and Argentina are particularly sensitive to US rates. Myers adds that there are a variety of approaches towards China from countries in LatAm, with domestic factors and historical connections among others adding to a diversified approach across the continent.
15.19: López says that the delegate poll result is not that surprising. Regarding LatAm and China, he says that the northern part of the region looks to the US, while the southern part of region looks to China. He adds that interest rates in the US could be a concern - albeit not in the room - for companies in LatAm as levels of debt have risen.
15.16: Myers says that Trump has an agenda with the trade war, but it has little to do with trade, it is more to do with superiority globally. The trade war is an important element of this though. Some sectors in LatAm have benefitted from this trade war, increasing production to China. But for regional growth in general, the trade war will have a negative effect, she says.
15.12: The panel opens with a poll question on what the biggest concern for LatAm is today. Corruption and its impact on foreign direct investment (FDI) dominates the results, pulling in 69% of the result. Irigoyen says that this issue has certainly been very important in different national elections in LatAm in the past couple of years. But he adds that the elephant in the room with regard to FDI is the possibility of US-China trade wars.
15.10: Discussing this wide-ranging topic are Claudio Irigoyen, Managing Director, Head of Latin America Economics and Foreign Exchange & Fixed Income Strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
, Humberto López, Director of Strategy and Operations for Latin America with the World Bank, and Margaret Myers, Director of the Asia & Latin America Program, Inter-American Dialogue.
Silvia Pavoni, Economics Editor at The Banker is moderating the panel.
15.06: That concludes the API panel, and we move straight on to a panel that will discuss "The State of the Americas'.
15.04: Martinez describes how Swift works with banks to ensure certain standards in APIs as they have with other industry standards. Castellanos says that Swift is important as a moderator for industry innovation and collaboration.
15.00: Castellanos makes the point that APIs and open banking level the playing field between banks from their corporate customer perspective. Therefore, institutions need to understand how they can stand out in the market and offer value added services to attract and retain clients.
14.57: How do APIs help the relationships between different stakeholders in the financial community? Gómez notes that open innovation is an important concept, regardless of whether a company is in financial services or not. Martinez says that innovation and collaboration continues to accelerate, noting that people avoid complexity where possible, and APIs simplify innovation.
14.54: Enriquez agrees that there should be a standardised approach to APIs, but notes that making this change creates other issues. Don't lose sight of customisation efforts that have already been made, he adds.
14.51: Should APIs be standardised? Martinez says yes, Swift believes standardisation is necessary, but we need to use data within APIs to bring some level of predictability to the business. He says that Swift is pushing for industry standards and that understanding how to receive and send information, such as with ISO 20022 XML, is important.
14.48: A main issue around API strategy is that it aligns with the business, Gómez says. Martinez adds that developers are the ones that are innovating, as APIs allow for simplified access to complex data. A simple API allows developers to focus on solutions without attracting a high cost.
14.46: The panel discussion element of the session now begins. Gómez says that development teams are the real users of apps. If an API works well, it is pretty much invisible, it will only come to attention if it starts misfiring. Enriquiez adds that platforms allows for collaboration between a variety of stakeholders in financial services.
14.43: The two sides of the platform need to interact in a frictionless manner, Martinez says. APIs are becoming increasingly mainstream in financial services, he adds.
14.40: Finally, Martinez takes to the stage to talk about platforms and how APIs interact with them. He says that APIs are powering a platform revolution across industries. Amazon, Instagram, Netflix and Uber are cited as examples of API enabled platforms and ecosystems across industries.
14.37: Turning to regulation, Gómez highlights that open banking has been particularly supported in the UK, Mexico and Brazil recently, as well as with PSD2 in Europe.
14.35: Gómez takes to the stage next, and starts by talking about open banking. APIs are not exclusively for financial transactions, but rather banks can use them to create data products. Data is the new oil, he adds, and it needs to be managed as efficiently as possible.
14.31: This emerging technology allows you to simplify the interaction between the actors in financial services, Enriquez adds.
14.30: Smart contracts on the blockchain make shared ledgers programmable, Enriquez says. Smart contracts reduce the need for APIs and integrations, allowing corporates to avoid direct integration with each of their banking partners.
14.28: Next up is Enriquez. He works on blockchain technology and says this technology allows banks to think about how they create financial apps. APIs act as gateways to the banks for different platforms. Only one integration is needed, with the blockchain node.
14.25: Looking at disruptive trends in banking, Castellanos says that real-time payments are foremost in this regard. APIs enable partnerships between banks and fintechs, which can help the industry manage the real-time payments disruption.
14.23: Castellanos leads things off by saying follow the vision rather than follow the money, because if you follow the vision then the money will follow you. He adds that banking today is all about trust, namely the management and protection of valuable client information.
14.20: Aued welcomes the panellists to the stage, and the session will begin with a short presentation from each of them.
14.07: The afternoon content will get underway with a session looking at how data and APIs can be harnessed to enable the digital economy. The panel is comprised of Ruddy Castellanos, Director, Regional Cross Border Solutions Head of Latin America for Citibank
, Julio Faura Enriquez, Founder and CEO of Adhara,
Juan Martínez, Global Head of APIs, Identity and Connectivity at SWIFT, and José Francisco Ñáñez Gómez, Director of Open Banking and API’s with Bancolombia. The moderator for this panel conversation is
Gabriela Aued, CEO of Tecnasa Group.
13.00: Time for lunch now. We will be back in around an hour for the afternoon programme.
12.59: Bulava adds that you need to capture cyber talent early, saying how JPMorgan partners with universities and even high schools on cyber challenges. Dana says that his company has launched an on demand unit to tackle cyber crime for organisations as a short- to mid-term solution.
12.57: A final question asks how institutions can win the battle for talent in cyber security. Dana says that it is difficult to retain talent, so institutions need to address this by bringing on incentives and demonstrating how the company values their career progression. Zegarra says that investment in training is very important, saying that Microsoft trains law enforcement across Latin America to help support the various branches of the law on this subject.
12.53: Central banks should be a hub to share intelligence information, Dana says, but some banks are reluctant to share information as they view this as providing more information to their competitors. He adds that this mindset needs to be challenged, because cyber crime is an issue for the whole industry.
12.51: What lessons can financial services learn from other industries when it comes to cyber security? Bulava says the energy sector has been dealing with cyber threats for a long time, with their operations coming under attack. They have strong programmes in place, and there are some partnerships between financial services and energy to share information on cyber attacks. Dana adds that it is important to understand adversaries, and different industries may have different adversaries. There is much to learn from different industries.
12.47: DLT as a secure technology is brought into the discussion, and Bulava says that theoretically it should be more secure, but it is a relatively new technology and antagonists may be quite new to researching how to attack this type of technology. Turning to the cloud, Zegarra says that trust is critical in the development of the cloud and migration to cloud services.
12.43: Laws will hardly ever develop as fast as cyber risk, Zegarra says. Legislation should not hinder the development of technology, because this is how institutions can protect themselves. International movements, such as the Budapest agreement on cyber crime, are more important than individual national regulations as cyber crime is a cross-border issue.
12.40: If institutions focus on compliance too much, they may not take cyber security as seriously as they should do, Dana says. He adds that cyber is now largely understood as a business risk, and banks are improving in certain areas but need to be more aggressive. Cyber is a business issue, not an IT issue, and budgeting should reflect this.
12.38: A crisis is not the time to exchange business cards, Bulava says. Make sure you know who you are going to be working with in your business should the worst happen.
12.36: How do you balance the need for security with the operational need to work efficiently? Bulava says that security should be a filter for innovation, built into innovation at the developer level. He adds there can be internal pushback, so it is important to build a culture of security within an organisation.
12.33: People are a major challenge in combating cyber crime, Zegarra says. People in banks may not have the knowledge to protect the organisation - she says people may have their password underneath their keyboard, use basic passwords, or use the same password on their company computer that they use on their mobile phone. She stresses that organisation-wide education is critical. Nine out of ten people will click on a phishing link, she adds, so the business needs to understand that fighting cyber crime is everyone's responsibility, so how are they addressing this?
12.30: Zegarra says that when it comes to cyber security, we are all responsible. Cyber crime is cross-border, it can go beyond local infrastructures. Criminal organisations can be well financed, so the community faces a shared responsibility to address this, from governments to technology companies, banks to individual consumers. She adds that there are over 95 countries worldwide that are developing legislation on cyber security, which is a move in the right direction, taking a proactive stance against cyber actors.
12.26: JPMorgan carries out phishing tests across all of their employees regularly, Bulava says, with this kind of training designed to protect the business. He adds that the bank has a 'red team', ethical hackers who will attack the bank's environment to try and gain access to data or accounts. This can highlight where previously unknown vulnerabilities exist in the bank's infrastructure, and is best practice to addressing cyber risks, he says.
12.22: These APTs have local contacts to support attacks, locals can help with reverse engineering to generate an insider threat, Dana says. Bulava adds that the US financial sector has developed cyber response guides across the community to help address cyber threats. The more that banks run through these eventualities, the better they will be able to respond to a real attack.
12.18: Dana says advanced persistent threats (APTs) are one group of cyber actors to pay particular attention to. These groups can often be government sponsored. APTs from countries such as North Korea have evolved, he notes, from acting like hacktivists, to now looking for financial gain as a way around economic sanctions. Ransomware like WannaCry is an example of this.
12.14: Antonacci says that the M.O. of cyber actors is the same as it has been for a while - attempting to infiltrate a local system via a phishing attack, a compromised security token or similar. They would then look to move large volumes of funds over weekends or holidays, for example. While banks smartened up to this approach and would monitor for these sorts of attacks, fraudsters now will try to withdraw smaller but more numerous amounts during weekdays.
12.10: The title of this panel is Managing Cyber Risk in a Digital Age, with insights from Adam Bulava, Executive Director of Attack Simulation with JPMorgan, Julian Dana, Director of Latin America, Mandiant at FireEye, and Carmen Zegarra, Digital Crimes Unit Attorney for Microsoft
. Pat Antonacci, Head of Customer Experience at Swift is on moderator duties.
12.08: That concludes the payments panel discussion. Up next is plenary panel with a focus on cyber risk.
12.07: Will regulators clamp down on certain sales practices in the digital world? Luzio says that regulators will be more demanding on developments such as crypto currencies. Doolittle adds that sales practices are under greater scrutiny, but banks should be focussed on customer experiences rather than simply monetising sales processes.
12.04: When it comes to digital transformation, it is vital to understand what is hype and what is reality, Doolittle says. Banks need to sort through this, and also understand how to protect their customers in this digital world. Banks need to make sure customers can transact in a safe space.
12.02: Luzio says that correspondent banking partners have helped her institution comply with the highest international standards. She adds that training is a critical element in this.
12.00: The consumer space sees a lot of competition from fintechs, Doolittle says. The middle market corporate space is quite unique, where they may not have the budget to get the solutions they need, but do need access to these. This is quite a hands on exercise, he adds.
11.58: In terms of financial crime, Umaña says that the more banks get to know their clients, the easier it is to protect them from these kinds of risks. She notes that the bank has sometimes terminated relationships with clients that have too much exposure to financial crime. Doolittle adds his bank have a team that will go to different countries to try to understand the mentality and methods of financial criminals in these different countries. Understanding this allows banks to develop targeted solutions to address fraud and financial crime.
11.54: Doolittle says that moving customers to digital payment tools takes time, and he says it isn't a bank's job to force customers to change, but by highlighting the benefits of digital tools they can start making the case. He cites Zelle instant transfers in the US as an example of this.
11.52: What strategies exist to encourage customers to be more digital? Luzio says that her bank has a team that teaches clients how to use e-banking, to build the trust around online platforms that builds customer confidence. Umaña says that highlighting the operational risk and admin costs around doing everything manually will also help encourage customers to adopt digital solutions. In LatAm, and specifically in Mexico, she says that smartphone apps have been a real driver to banking consumers and moving them away from cash.
11.49: Despite digitisation, cash is still the most used form of payment in LatAm. Luzio says that the many payment alternatives on the market can be used to induce customers away from cash if they are easily available, citing payment apps on smartphones as an example.
11.47: How do regional banks in LatAm differentiate themselves from global players in the region? Umaña says that her institution has to customise its global solutions to ensure they serve this region. Doolittle adds that the global activism of regulators offers a real opportunity for regional and local banks to grow, as global banks find this a challenge to go through all of the regulatory work to bank globally.
11.45: Luzio says clients can find compliance a challenge in the digital world, which is one area where institutions can provide support.
11.44: How do banks translate innovation in the front end to the back end? Focus on the customer and the unit that serves that customer is key, Doolittle says. Internal connectivity is critical, and his bank uses an R&D team to help assist this. When it comes to selecting whether to innovate internally, to partner with a fintech or to acquire a fintech, Doolittle says that his bank looks at the brand first when weighing up this decision. If you take the wheels off the stagecoach, you no longer have a stagecoach, he says.
11.39: Doolittle adds that Wells Fargo realised they had centralised innovation too much, and they needed to get the various business lines involved in this process to a greater degree, as they have the customer connection. The bank has innovation accelerators, and also brings fintechs in to work on solutions.
11.38: How do you define innovation in a large financial institution? Doolittle says his bank has a big focus on this, and understanding what you want to be for your customers is vital before you start innovating. Just as important is understanding what your customers want from you. He adds that people in their 50s and older hold 70% of the assets in the US, so remember who your customers are and service them appropriately.
11.35: Luzio adds that customer trust is very important, particularly with consumers. For corporates, online banking is very popular, which means they are less likely to contact the bank directly.
11.33: Umaña comments that customers need a trustworthy contact point with their banking partners, who also understands the customer business and can support them through the digital journey. This contact can help provide continuity to the business. HSBC has personalised cash management support for corporate customers, she says, which helps provide confidence to customers who might not want to use a call centre.
11.30: Wadiwala asks a question from the audience asking what the biggest challenge for banks is as digitisation spreads. Doolittle says this is a very important question in today's environment, as you can quickly find yourself with too much to do as you're trying to update everything. You need a bank-wide digital strategy in order to bring all businesses along at the same time. What are your business process rules, how do you manage your technological investments? He says that banks should do their homework before jumping into digitisation.
11.27: Customers want a fast, effective and secure payments experience, Umaña adds. This is the same for consumers and businesses alike. Luzio says that corporates need more information around their payments, adding that Banco Bisa added support for Swift GPI last year as a response to this need.
11.22: The execution of payment is critical to the customer experience, with validation filters possibly causing delays in a payment, Umaña adds. The knock-on effect of a slow payment can be critical to customers, so banks need to use any tools at their disposal to ensure that payments flow as quickly as possible. She adds that, in Mexico, her bank has been developing a number of digital enhancements, including biometrics for mobile payments.
11.20: The immediacy of mobile technology has changed everything about the target operating model for banks, Doolittle says. Banks grow their business by enhancing customer experience. Umaña adds that customers are looking for speed and good information around their payments, as well as a focus on security.
11.18: The panel begins with Wadiwala introducing a polling question, asking what is most important in cross-border payments: speed, transparency, traceability and cost. Speed tops the poll, attracting 39% of the vote.
11.01: The title of the next plenary panel, coming up in around 10 minutes, is 'Cost, Speed, Value: What Are Payments Really All About Today?' The panel will comprise George Doolittle, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Payments Services, Corporate & Investment Banking at Wells Fargo, Mónica García Luzio, Vice President of Finance at Banco Bisa, and Beatriz Quevedo Umaña, Regional Head of Client Management, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, Latin America for HSBC. Kasif Wadiwala, Associate Partner at Deloitte Consulting will be moderating the discussion.
10.22: Time now for a short break. Coming up in around 40 minutes is a plenary session looking at developments in payments.
10.20: A final question from the audience asks about balancing digital innovation with cyber security and regulatory requirements. Mager says his team works very closely with business partners on the Digital Council so that legal and compliance teams at the bank have an input on the innovations. It is important to get all key stakeholders on board before investing in and working on innovation, in order to address any particular issues before time and resources are spent on a project.
10.18: Blanco asks Mager how success is measured in digital transformation, who says that KPIs and other metrics are important. You need to start with a good set of data for current processes and then establish your KPIs from there. This includes setting goals for customer take-up, and validate data through client feedback on how successful you have been. This data will help reflect how your digital transformation is proceeding, and offer insight into how improve what you are working on.
10.15: A poll of the audience asks what the main driver for digital transformation in their organisation is. Two answers lead the way, with business model adaptation polling 32% and meeting customer expectations being selected by 31%. Emerging technology came in third with 17%.
10.12: Digital transformation is the new normal and will never end. Mager says it is table stakes, it is needed to compete with new market competitors and changing customer needs.
10.11: Cultural change and skillset adaptation are two of the greatest challenges for digital transformation, Mager says. Some degree of technology-savvy hiring from outside will be needed, but internal training to upskill existing employees that are willing to adapt is vital, he says. Mager himself has gone through some digital training, and he says that the bank looks to train talent who can then go on and train other employees in the organisation.
10.09: Banks need to develop some organisational knowledge on new technologies, Mager says. The bank repurposed someone in the organisation to explore blockchain, how it might be used for the business and for clients. The challenge with innovation is that it can reach a dead end and waste time, so it is important not just to become enamoured with one type of technology, he adds. Focus on what the client needs are, and explore which technologies might be applied to this.
10.05: Each business should prioritise its own developments, but every business onboards clients, and provides reporting, as just two examples, which is where the Digital Council and enterprise approach has its focus, Mager says this helps the business structure its data across the enterprise. At the same time, within each business there is their own take on those services, as well as their own digital solutions. The enterprise level view has helped the bank avoid duplicating costs, he adds.
10.02: Mager says his organisation has been focussed on digital transformation since before it was called that. It began as quite a decentralised approach, but around two years ago the strategy became more centralised with the creation of an enterprise level digital group. A number of the bank's clients use a number of the bank's businesses, so this enterprise view was helpful to provide a seamless approach, he says. As part of that, BNY Mellon has created a Digital Council that has representatives from all the different business groups and key stakeholders.
09.59: What should organisations consider with digital transformation? Mager says the most important thing to consider is what your priorities are and what you want to achieve, because it is hard to do everything at once. Nobody has unlimited resources, so have a structured approach on what will have the biggest impact on your organisation and your customers.
09.57: Blanco returns to the stage for a conversation on digital transformation with Christopher Mager, CTP, Managing Director, Digital Office at BNY Mellon Treasury Services.
09.56: Swami closes by asking delegates to consider how these trends apply to their organisation, and what three things they could do differently when they get back to their offices.
09.55: Looking at Latin America, Swami says that there is tremendous excitement in the region around digital. There is a bubbling fintech scene in the region, while the digital touch and sales growth in the region is increasing, with 1.3% annual growth.
09.51: Banks are turning to asset-light infrastructures, Swami says, moving towards scalable and on demand cloud platforms. These platforms enable agility, creating shorter product creation and to market speeds. This also supports the personalisation of solutions, as well as being able to deliver an omni-channel customer experience, thanks to an enhanced digital marketing and sales approach.
09.49: Turning to AI, Swami says that banks are deploying AI for two main objectives, to identify and pursue new client offerings that are tailored to their needs, and also to automate middle and back office processes.
09.47: Regulatory pressures around data has an increased focus on how data is managed and secured. Swami says that 48% of organisations believed they were neutral or ineffective on data and analytics. Investment in data insights is one thing, but this has to be combined with a business case. The talent pool in data management also don't see financial institutions as their number one place to work, which is something else for banks to address, he says.
09.43: Any organisation that is serious about meeting the needs of the future have to take APIs seriously as a product and understand the business case for where they can use APIs across their organisation.
09.41: Looking at open architectures, Swami says that APIs, while not new, are now a key focus for executives who see them as a tool for partnership, both internal and external. The number of public APIs in financial institutions over the past decade have grown 13 times more than they were 10 years ago.
09.39: While institutions are responding to some of the digital trends in the market, Swami says that most are struggling to respond to all trends across the board in a holistic manner. Banks are starting to adopt agile are deploying systems and tools to drive products with a 'test and learn' approach - developing solutions and getting them out to customers for testing as quickly as possible, taking on feedback, updating the solution and sending it out for more feedback. However, he says that only 20% of LatAm banks are actively working on digitising customer journeys.
09.34: Being able to differentiate services is a key aspect for banks that want to succeed in the digital world, Swami says. The ability to deliver customer-centric solutions, and for customers to see this happening, is vital. Additionally, 25.7% of all malware attacks hit banks and other financial services organisations in 2018, so cyber also has to be top of mind for banks that want to succeed.
09.31: Banks needs to make the short amount of time that customers spend with them exceptional if they want to retain their custom. Swami also says that banks are increasingly competing with other apps on a smartphone, which is a change of pace from simply competing with other institutions. He adds that iOS users trust Apple more than banks.
09.29: Blanco introduces Kartikeya Swami, Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, to the stage. Swami will cover what the trends are in digital transformation, and how institutions are responding to these. With economic trends, he says that global banking ROE has stalled in the past five years, to approximately 8.8%. Swami says that efficiency has been a huge focus.
09.26: Setting out the agenda for conference, Blanco says discussions will cover how the payment industry has evolved, the new technologies being used, the new cyber crime dynamic, and how to manage risk. He adds that there will also be a focus on fintech that has its own space in the venue - and we will be dropping in on the Latin American fintech focus during one of the breaks this afternoon.
09.21: Noting that LARC 2019 has over 550 registrations from more than 30 countries, Blanco says that customer demands from financial services have rapidly increased in the digital world, with organisations operating in a world that is hyper-connected. Financial institutions need to evolve from market leaders to digital leaders.
09.17: Following a video that highlights the main themes we will be discussing today, Blanco takes to the stage to deliver a welcome to the conference. He notes that Panama, the conference location, is one of the most important financial centres in Latin America.
09.00: The plenary room at LARC is starting to fill up, and coming up we will be hearing from Ignacio Blanco, Head of Latin America & the Caribbean at Swift, who will kick off proceedings.
08.00: Good morning from Panama City and welcome to our live blog from day one of Swift's Latin American Regional Conference (LARC). Today's agenda has a focus on accelerating digital transformation, covering topics including payments, cyber risks, emerging technologies, and an exploration of financial services in the region. Delegates have started to arrive to collect their badges and get a coffee, and the programme will get underway in an hour. See you then!