A look back at Sibos
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26 September 2011Gareth Lodge
Another year over, and another successful Sibos. My previous post gave a sense (I hope!) of how long and busy the week was. Having finished the week, it now seems to have flown by. The pile of business cards and follow-ups are a testament to a productive series of meetings. In addition to the happiness of surviving the week, there was relief that some of the things many feared failed to happen – no euro disintegration, no banking collapse and most importantly of all – no reduction in the number of happy hour drinks each day. It will take weeks to complete all the follow ups, but a few observations. Much discussion about the economy and the impact that may have, primarily on the vendor side. One wag noted that the European country with the largest economic growth during the past 12 months was Belgium. Which hasn’t had a government for the last 12 months! I think this uncertainty was reflected in the stands. Many had reduced the size of stand this year. Swift places a limit on the amount you can grow or shrink your footprint from year to year, perhaps masking the true picture. Anecdotal evidence suggests many are considering not attending next year in Osaka for cost reasons. With the following year in Dubai dividing opinion (worries about whether the region is sufficiently safe, and the religious ethics – see this LinkedIn Discussion), the next couple of years could be significantly smaller. With Boston & Hong Kong rumored to be the venues for the following years, the backbone of European attendees may seek alternative events such as Eurofinance. With a diary full of meetings, I was unable to attend any sessions this year, other than the one I moderated. I’m hoping that I will be able to utilize the Virtual Sibos to catch-up. As of this morning, it was a little unclear as to how to access it, but I do note that the very large fee for doing so seems to have been removed from the page. From the conversations I had the following were the most common themes or questions: Hubs, hubs and more hubs. Payment Services Hubs are coming of age, but there is still a large gap in understanding (which can of course be solved by reading Zils excellent series of reports on hubs !) Following on from this, many of the discussions were around payments convergence, including processing cards through payment hubs. Are the card related businesses missing an opportunity here by not attending? Or rather, can true convergence take place if there are few conferences (only Nacha Payments springs to mind) that pull together the various payment types? For a corporate banking conference, there were a surprising number of discussions around mobile, and not just corporate “access”. Mobility, rather than just mobile, seems finally to be coming to the fore. Perhaps I missed them, but there seemed to be fewer announcements made at the show this year. I’m not sure whether this is a realization that its very difficult to stand out and get the attention you seek, or whether simply there were fewer announcements, full stop. And of course, regulation. SEPA end-dates, Basel III and the variations by region were just some of the topics. Most surprising though were the questions from non-UK organisations around the proposed UK banking reforms. The rest of the world is watching with interest at the very minimum. Finally, I’d just to thank all those clients who stopped me and said hello, and who gave valuable feedback. Always much appreciated.