Thursday, October 04, 2007

Banks enter uncharted territory

Well it is the end of yet another Sibos - an eventful or uneventful one depending on how you look at it. There has been the usual SWIFT speak - advancing critical dialogue, price reductions, rebates and a SWIFT that wants to get closer to its customers.

But as some of the journalists I spoke to this week have said, 'There has been very little meat' in terms of major announcements. OK the leading European banks have signed up to delivering SEPA- they are now "legally committed" as one person put it.

But take-up and migration to SEPA, particularly SEPA Direct Debits, still presents significant challenges, and there is a feeling that the regulators will need to do more to give SEPA a "nudge" to ensure it gets through these final yet all-important stages.

This Sibos will perhaps be best remembered for turning the tide when it comes to attendance - more corporates now attend SWIFT's annual user conference than investment managers, although those in attendance from the securities industry believe the debates around derivatives, the European clearing and settlement landscape and the future of the industry, were enlightening.

Yet, it is questionable whether the SWIFT community can truthfully say they 'gained momentum'? With the challenges around SEPA, automating securities and derivatives, the general confusion and uncertainty around whether banks can really play an enlarged role in the financial and the physical supply chain and provide value-added services customers want, it appears the industry is faltering somewhat.

The same applies to SWIFT in a way. Can it be everything to everybody - it is now even contemplating entering the insurance market - or has it bitten off more than it can chew, particularly given that it is talking about extending SWIFT connectivity to mid-tier corporates.

That was not in the original game plan, at least not that based on former SWIFT CEO Leonard Schrank's vision, which only saw SWIFT corporate connectivity as an option for the Fortune 100 companies.

His incumbent Lazaro Campos appears to have a slightly different agenda, which is likely to see SWIFT enter uncharted territory, just as the banks are finding themselves moving into traditionally non-bank areas (AP automation, e-invoicing, logistics). And like the banks, SWIFT is likely to enjoy mixed success.

1 comment:

CityUnslicker said...

good summary; espcially as I missed Sibos this year!