Embracing Digital Opportunity: Reflections On Sibos 2015

Andy Hirst

In a word: Sibos. That major event on everyone’s calendar is done and dusted for another year. With Singapore still (relatively) fresh in our minds, I thought I’d sum up my key reflections. What topics were firmly on the agenda – and what took center stage?

Is there a new “business as usual?”

Absolutely. It was no surprise that digitisation was the defining theme of Sibos 2015. It’s also a huge opportunity that requires a swift response, as I’ve already outlined in my blog Driving digitisation: the big win-win for both sides.

Banks need to embrace innovative digitisation strategies to offer greater value, improve customer loyalty, and drive revenue and profitability. They must also adapt quickly to evolving regulatory environments and new competitors.

In a nutshell, what were the highlights?

1. Customer experience is critical

Successful organisations are redesigning offerings to bring a new set of services to customers, and responding to what customers really want. Rhomaios Rham, global head of product management and head of digitalisation at Deutsche Bank, even went so far as to speak of the customer experience as “completely re-imagined.”

2. Smart innovation supports compliance and business

Regulatory overload and a lack of harmonisation around regulation continues to create challenges, especially in cross-border environments. The results include escalating complexity and costs. But it’s not all doom and gloom: New data insights and views will help protect banks and help them make better use of capital.

3. Real-time payments are here

Now, how do we do them well? Essential for the interoperability between real-time payment systems is ISO 20022, but harmonised market practice is essential. Banks, market infrastructures, and SWIFT need to work closely together to achieve this – also across borders. And beyond regulatory demand lurks business opportunity through bold new customer services and prospects for revenue growth.

4. Beyond a buzzword, blockchain has real potential

Even if the exact application of blockchain – or distributed ledger – is still unclear, there was general consensus that banks must be at the forefront of developing it. One thing is certain: It will bring disruption in areas such as cross-border payments and foreign trade.

5. The shift from West to East continues

RMB, Stock Connect, and ASEAN integration are all features of a robust Asian economy – where digital innovation is already impacting and other markets can learn valuable lessons.

There were many more themes running through Sibos, yet they don’t distract from the industry’s common vision: pursuing innovation to increase efficiency, better manage risk, create new opportunities and improve lives.


Andy Hirst

About Andy Hirst

Andy Hirst is vice president of Banking Solutions, SAP Banking Industry Business Unit, at SAP. He is responsible for driving the success of the SAP go-to-market strategy in Line of Business Cloud Applications and Analytics in Financial Services. Previously, Andy was responsible for Capital Markets solutions for banking. Andy is an expert in Big Data and analytics use cases in financial services and has been involved in many digital banking initiatives for banks.