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21 May 2012Gareth Lodge
Its event season at the moment – I’m off to Madrid for a client event tomorrow for example. Last week though was EBADay in Edinburgh. EBADay is actually now a 2 day event, now, by my calculations, in its 6th year. Its roots lie in the EBA Clearing AGM, which actually is central to its success. The board of the EBA form part of the who’s who in payments in Europe. By adding an event, the “right” people have been attending from day one. As a result, EBADay is for many of the corporate payments professionals in Europe has become one of the must attend events. The event is split in two parts, the conference and the exhibition. The conference is made up of panel sessions primarily and they were generally good, with some turning out to be excellent. I spoke on a panel entitled “Understanding the real value of payments data” along with speakers from, in alphabetical order, Citi, The Clearing House, Dovetail, JP Morgan and RefData. Our challenge was that there was simply so much too much to discuss in such a short period of time. But the questions from the audience clearly showed a need for greater transparency into payments data. This was somewhat alarming as I first spoke about this requirement from corporates nearly 10 years ago, but is does reflect the theme of my research agenda this year. The exhibition is unlike I’ve seen at any other event, and I think it works. Instead of the exhibitors bringing their usual mega stands with them, it effectively becomes fixed size display. This picture gives a far better idea of how it works. At the same time, the pricing for a stand is much lower than many other shows. One client shared their costs at a high level – they spent less than 50% than they would have at a rival show for a stand, but got considerably more in addition to the stand for their money. Guess which show is growing and which is shrinking? The outcome was that there was a real buzz in the building, with everybody staying onsite, and staying in the same area as the exhibition. Something also done better than any other show so far was the availability of free wifi throughout the entire building – thanks to Clear2Pay for sponsoring. So, takeaways & themes. SEPA remains a key topic, with attention turning to the detail now. As Simon Newstead of RBS pointed out, the “single end date” legislation actually has 10 end dates, mentioned in 34 places. Furthermore, whilst everyone was talking about what corporates need to do, actually getting a handle on what corporates have already done, proved to be much more tricky. Indeed, only 2 company names came up in conversation at all during the conversations. Whilst there must be more, it served to highlight the real scale of the problem. Greece. Other than the highly entertaining keynote by the German economist, the general consensus seemed to be it was when Greece left the euro, not if. This and the related economic troubles cast a long shadow over the event. The industry wasn’t necessarily pessimistic for its future – indeed, consensus was SEPA will continue regardless – but that the exit would an event not seen before and would accordingly result in new challenges. The worriers were more concerned by who might follow them. Next year the event will be in….well, they’re playing that card close to their chest. Traditionally announced in the closing plenary, the only clues that were given was that it was a country that started with the letter G and contained the letters R & E. With Frankfurt only a recent host, perhaps Greece has suffered its first euro exit, albeit from the Euro Banking Association!
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