As envisaged, Sibos 2017 was a notable success for Earthport. We’ve been building our presence and activity at this benchmark event for the past few years but 2017 was somehow different.
Why? Because everyone is far more aware of Earthport today. We do not have to explain who we are anymore, which allows us to concentrate on telling people where we can make a difference. This is an important change in our profile and increasingly, the dialogue at Sibos was about what we can do for our customers and why our single connection network provides greater transparency, cost effectiveness and more reliability.
In some ways, this reflected the mood in Toronto. As we have said for some time now, new payments systems are no longer a curiosity, they represent the future mainstream. People are starting to realise that the status quo has been challenged and Earthport represents part of the solution.
We’re no longer talking about bank versus fintech or friction between the sectors – collaboration is every much the sentiment that’s dominating the marketplace and we all know that banks have to be at the centre of the ecosystem.
At the same time, banks are accepting that the old correspondent banking system is tired and needs to be replaced – cross-border banking has also become expensive for the banks and that is being widely acknowledged. And while it remains more expensive to move money around than it is to ship goods, we clearly have some issues to solve.
Sibos also highlighted where some of the pressure points will be in the future – for everyone. While the topic of real-time payments dominated many meetings and sessions, cybercrime is a growing worry for the industry and there were many discussions around risk, protection and the threat that crime may have on innovation. This is something that none of us can ignore and clearly, it is a priority for all of us to ensure the environment is secure.
Artificial intelligence is rapidly being identified as the next big disruptor, although there are sceptics who point to the value of personal collaboration in forming good judgement. Nevertheless, this is a subject that is going to gather momentum at future Sibos conferences, and will be very relevant in areas such as lending and analysis.
Data, too, was at the forefront of the dialogue. In fact, many people feel that data is the next big “battleground” for the financial industry, particularly as PSD2 will herald the start of a new open-banking environment in which data will play a vital role.
As for our own segment of the industry, payments, somebody said that “the payment system is the lifeblood of the economy” and that really underlines the importance of what we are doing. That’s why I left Toronto feeling very optimistic that Earthport is now more recognised and valued than ever before. People want to talk to us, discover what we have to offer. Sibos 2017 was a significant step forward for our visibility.