In the run up to Sibos 2015, bobsguide will be providing exclusive insights into the annual SWIFT conference and who better to give us a glimpse into the conference than the organisers and speakers themselves. In this Q&A Fabian Vandenreydt, head of markets management for Innotribe and The SWIFT Institute, tells bobsguide what delegates should expect from Innotribe at Sibos this year and the new approaches SWIFT is taking to respond to changing industry attitudes and shifting paradigms.
Tell me more about your role at SWIFT?
I am head of markets management for SWIFT and my position covers payments, securities and corporate to bank businesses. I also run the enablers group which comprises of Innotribe, SWIFT Institute and our Partner Management Group.
What should delegates expect from Innotribe at Sibos this year?
Delegates will be pleasantly surprised about the Innotribe stand this year - which will be impossible to miss! It will be a great reflection of what Innotribe represents and its primary function to integrate innovation with Swift’s core business functions.
As usual we have worked hard to offer a four day programme which talks to the delegates attending Sibos, but also helps to bring a fresh perspective about what is cooking in terms of innovation in the very core of the industry.
Each day has a specific topic and day one is all about platforms and API’s. We think that more work and innovation needs to go into how companies can go about creating an environment which enables them to work with various stakeholders, customers, new entrants and banks. This day focuses on how companies can build such a platform, engage with their ecosystem and find ways to interface the new with the old.
Day two is focused on what society wants. It is a topic that looks at what the role of banking is moving forward, such as financial inclusion and how regulation will evolve in the light of new technology and innovation, and will look into whether regulation can be “reinvented” to support these innovations.
On day three we have the grand finale of the Innotribe start-up challenge, where the selected 20 companies that we showcased in London, Singapore, New York and Cape Town this year will be pitching their ideas and we will select the winners. We will also look into what the innovators in banking want and will be hearing from heads of innovation in banks about what they do, in terms of venture funding and innovation.
The fourth and final day is all about what machines want. We ask how artificial intelligence can be leveraged, new trends in robot investment and the next steps in analytics. On top of this, we also have ‘The Future of Money’ session which looks into where payments and money is heading and will feature many people from the core banking industry, alongside innovators.
This year, across the week we will also be featuring millennials and power women in fintech. The idea is to not only have innovators and seasoned bankers in the sessions, but to also have millennials and power women in all of the sessions to bring diversity of thought and perspective.
Why should delegates attend the Innotribe sessions?
At Sibos 2014, ‘The Future of Money’ and other Innotribe sessions were among the top five most attended sessions. Since last year, a large majority of banks are focusing on some form of innovation and I believe this is getting more mainstream, hence why we call it ‘Innotribe at Sibos goes mainstream’.
This year, I think that we will have more bankers in the sessions trying to make the best of the four days to understand concretely how they can engage in their own daily roles with the ecosystem and also make sense of their own innovation programmes. The objective for us is to service our core members and give them the tools to work with Swift, start-ups and amongst themselves to advance innovation.
How has the Innotribe Startup Challenge gone this year?
This year we had over 30 per cent more start-ups apply the programme and it was the first time we have held the challenge in Africa. Why Africa? We believe that when we look at SWIFT as a network, there is more and more volume and interesting things happening such as banks automating their processes, which is why we wanted to showcase African innovation. We wanted to only showcase African companies and were surprised by the diversity of innovation beyond payments. The top innovations we have seen this year are focused around Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending, payments, investment management for individuals, security and analytics. We are also very proud to see and hear that the start-ups have benefitted from the coaching that we give them and because of our help are much more capable of pitching their ideas to financial service companies.
What do you think makes a start-up stand out?
The team is key. A great team with a good idea is better than a bad team with a great idea. The team that works together, complements each other, can scale and understands the constraints and the requirements of a financial institution will stand out…and of course the idea needs to be novel and game changing.
How do you think the London is fairing against other global cities as a fintech hub?
It’s fair to say that London has put in place an infrastructure and ecosystem around innovation that is probably one of the top ones in the world. With help for innovation coming from the government, the private sector, Universities and accelerators like Level 39 who we are partnering with, it makes London a great place for fintech. In terms of investment there is still more in New York/Silicon Valley, however, from a global perspective London is seen as blueprint of openness and a city that provides positive support for innovators, even from a regulatory perspective. There are others cities that are also growing such as Singapore and everybody is realising that it is important for a city to be perceived as a sound place to attract investment, including fintech investment.
What are the key challenges you see financial institutions facing?
A lot of the energy and investment from financial institutions is going into financial crime compliance and compliance to regulation in general. This is having effect on innovation and means that financial institutions are generally looking for a lot more innovation in this domain, and has restricted their capability to innovate on their own because a lot of attention and budget is going into mandatory procedures. This is why they are engaging much more with the external ecosystem, organisations like ours, start-ups and other banks to help them look at innovation differently.
How are financial institutions responding to the cultural shift that fintech start-ups have influenced?
It very much depends on the strategy of the financial institution and I think they all realise that there are opportunities to catch and threats to address with the new entrants and that they can benefit from third parties. They also understand that the best way to effectively do this is through engagement, however, investment is also up to each bank because they all have different strategies. From my point of view, I believe that when banks do look at innovation (whichever model they use) there will always be elements of their innovation strategy that is best addressed as a community. That’s why at Innotribe we want engage with financial institutions to look into topics that are best addressed collectively.
How have you integrated Innotribe into SWIFT’s day to day business?
When I took over at Innotribe a few years ago I was working in markets management and I am still doing this today. We have physically merged those interested in business and those interested in Innotribe and have got them working as one team. We also use Innotribe in our strategy to look at what is coming next, this helps to enlightens us in what we as a company should do. In all business discussions we also try to bring an Innotribe angle more and more because banks look to us to tell them what’s coming next.
Can you give us any other insights into what innovative products SWIFT is developing this year?
Over the next year SWIFT is going to be working on innovative ways to look at regulatory reporting. There are also lot of conversations around distributed systems and distributed ledgers at the moment and we will be looking into the areas where such technology can be useful for the community. We will also be focusing on providing additional services around financial crime compliance.