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Building for the Future Sibos 2017

Sibos 2017 held in Toronto in October and organized by SWIFT, the international network to send and receive information about financial transactions, has been a huge draw as in the past, with 8100 delegates attending, 185 exhibitors showing their prowess, and conferences, discussions and knowledge sharing sessions spread over 4 four days keeping the participants engaged all through. It is touted as the largest Sibos ever held in the Americas. The conference had as its theme ‘Building for the Future’ and participants deliberated on issues such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, the impact of geopolitical and regulatory shifts, data and identity and fintech. Supporting the event was the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), along with its federal and regional partners.

While Sibos 2017 drew encouraging response from participants across the world, there were 235 Indian delegates, which was unprecedented in spite of holidays/celebrations like Diwali back in India.


The discussions were centered round four core themes – banking, compliance, securities and technology.

The banking stream covered the future of payments and the challenges facing correspondent banking. Discussions covered on APIs, regulations such as PSD2, open banking, impact of fintech initiatives on banking, relevance of DLT and new collaboration models. There were also discussions on financial inclusion, which is seen as key to reducing poverty and driving growth in developing countries.

Crime compliance and how banks are handling the increasing levels of crime came up for discussion in the Compliance stream. Banks are facing challenges around anti-money laundering and the sophisticated counter terrorist financing. Discussions were held on how RegTech can transform AML in the same way that FinTech could reshape payments and investment management. Delegates also deliberated on how safeguards at one institution can be undermined by weak security at another and on cyber exposure as a core element of KYC risk controls.

Gottfried Leibbrandt in coversation with Satya Nadella

Discussions under the Securities stream concentrated on how regulatory changes are shaping market infrastructures, and how the market players are responding. There are also challenges over the ever-changing regulatory environment as well as harmonization initiatives like ISO 20022, T2S, CSDR and MIFIDII. The topics for discussion also included artificial intelligence and its potential to take routine, repetitive processes and make them more efficient, removing the risk of manual handling and reducing costs. and blockchain technology as a viable solution in securities markets.

Participants at the technology stream discussed the impact of cutting edge technologies are having on financial services, and how they can deliver value to customers as well as address the challenges of cybersecurity. The consensus was that collaboration between the financial services industry and fintech ventures is gathering speed, opening up myriad opportunities for both. With the industry increasingly embracing fintech, the possible impact of technology companies like Google, Apple and Facebook getting into financial services too came up for discussion. Another core area for the participants was of course the trends in cybersecurity.


One of the highlights of the four-day event was the closing keynote speech by Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. He touched upon the challenge faced by businesses in staying innovative and on the finer aspect of increasing role of computing in the day-to-day lives of people. Responding to a question posed onstage by Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt about whether blockchain was all it has been cracked up to be, Nadella responded definitively: “There’s real tangible progress that can be made. But, I think it’s in your hands that it has to be converted into things that are very useful.”

He also discussed Microsoft’s blockchain announcements as also the nostalgic movement when he as a programmer at Microsoft, had visualized blockchain as the fulfillment of a long-held personal aspiration. “Ever since at least I’ve been in this industry, we’ve always looked for a distributed database with a trust harness that allows multiple organizations to collaborate, and that performs,” he said.

Nadella summed up the concepts that he is most excited about – mixed reality, why every experience will be infused with AI but with decent datasets, and the innovations of computing.

For the first time, Sibos 2017 saw more than 50% of the stalls belonging to technology companies. The Canadian Fintech Forum which jointly worked with Sibos was instrumental in bringing large number of participant fintech companies into the conference.

Sibos now goes to Sydney in 2018, and it has seen a change of guard at the top. Sven Bossu has left after a term of 5 years and Chantal Van Es has taken over.

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