Reflections on SIBOS

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1 November 2010
Zilvinas Bareisis
A number of my Celent colleagues and I just came back from a week in SIBOS, which was in Amsterdam this year. For those of you not familiar with SIBOS, it is one of the main global events in the calendar of payments and transaction banking professionals. It is organised by SWIFT and takes place annually in a different continent each year. It was my first time at SIBOS, but even without a reference point I could tell that it was a special event: ~9,000 participants, lots of concurrent sessions and a massive exhibition hall with nearly all major banks and suppliers showcasing their offerings and striking deals. This was also confirmed by those that have seen other SIBOS events (and I spoke to one person for whom this was a 33rd SIBOS!) For example, two years ago, SIBOS started right after the weekend when Lehman Brothers failed, so the queue for the taxi was as long as the one to get into the conference hall, as everyone was being recalled home to deal with the emergency. This year, the mood was much more optimistic. 2010 World Payments Report launched by RBS, Cap Gemini and EFMA spoke of global resiliency of payment trends and continued growth of non-cash payments. SWIFT painted a vision of itself in 2015 as an organisation that's more lean and customer-focused than ever before. And in another panel debate, the banks decided that there is still margin in payments for those that are prepared to innovate and deliver on what the customers require to solve their payments problems (in other words, developing targetted payments value propositions that Celent described in its 2009 report, Payments Opportunities: Finding the White Space). However, the road ahead is not without its challenges. Regulators around the world continue to put pressure on the banks, while many of the specifics remain uncertain, making it difficult for the banks to plan and prepare adequately. SEPA's progress remains slow and there were many discussions about the mandatory end-date and the EC's proposals that some argue might compromise the original vision of a unified European payments market. Some of the other "hot topics" included the following:
  • Mobile solutions for corporates. While everyone is talking about consumer m-payments, some companies (e.g. Fundtech, LUUP) have launched at SIBOS their mobile solutions for corporate treasurers. It is certainly a trend that Celent monitors closely.
  • Liquidity management - everybody is talking about it. Again, a number of very interesting solutions have been launched during SIBOS (e.g. Dovetail Systems)
  • Payment Services Hubs - this topic is a particular favourite of mine at the moment and I spent a lot of my time at SIBOS discussing it with the leading vendors (all of which were, of course, exhibiting at SIBOS) and their banking clients. I also spoke about it as a panelist on a breakfast event. Watch out for my upcoming series of reports on this subject.
Finally, no SIBOS is complete without the evening parties and networking events and Celent contingent had a busy evening diary as well. Thank you to all who invited us and apologies to those whose events we couldn't make it in order to re-charge our batteries for the next day. I am already looking forward to SIBOS 2011 in Toronto!

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Blogs
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Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America