10 September 2019
Head of Sibos Chantal Van Es: ‘The value of face-to-face meetings in the finance world still holds true today’
In late September, Sibos will arrive in London, one of the financial centres of the world. It is the first time that this annual banking and financial conference, organised by SWIFT, takes place in the English capital. ExCeL London, the international exhibition centre, is the stage where experts from the financial world will meet to discuss the challenges, opportunities and impacts of new technologies on infrastructures, value propositions and business models.
Chantal Van Es, SWIFT’s Head of Sibos, is pleased that Sibos will take place in the UK between 23 and 26 September. Van Es: “London is one of the world’s great financial centres. It’s a city where business, creativity and innovation converge. That’s why it’s the perfect place for Sibos 2019.”
During her time in charge of Sibos, Van Es has seen both the financial world and Sibos undergo significant transformation in line with the rapid pace of technological advances. In this interview she talks about the evolution of Sibos and the value it offers finance stakeholders.
Sibos was first held in Brussels in 1978, when 300 participants attended the banking operations conference. How has the event changed since then?
Van Es: “The first Sibos took place at a time when there were no mobile phones or internet; telex, letters and face-to-face meetings were the main means of business communication. In 1982, we broke new territory, taking Sibos outside Europe for the first time to the shores of the United States. Since then, we’ve reached many milestones, traversing the globe and developing a community of over 9,000 delegates, 200 exhibitors and hundreds of expert speakers. In 2019, London is the latest landmark city to play host to Sibos.”
“It’s been more than 40 years since Sibos launched and our community and industry has evolved, and has Sibos itself. The banking and wider financial sector has been irrevocably changed by technology and evolving customer demands. The latest phase of the digital revolution is underpinned by collaboration with agile, innovative fintechs, energising the industry with sophisticated solutions and heralding a new era supported by developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, instant payments and blockchain.”
To what extent has the rise of new technologies changed Sibos?
Van Es: “Sibos has always been at the intersection of finance and technology, and fintech companies are now even more central to the financial sector’s present and future direction. The lines between fintech and financial services are becoming blurred. This is reflected in this year’s Discover Zone at Sibos, a platform for the best and brightest innovators from around the globe to showcase their insights and solutions. We have ambitious plans for this year’s Discover Zone and as a bustling fintech hub, London is a fitting home.”
Are fintechs now an established part of the Sibos community?
Van Es: “Fintechs are an integral part of the financial community and are an important part of Sibos. Fintechs are attracted to Sibos by unparalleled networking opportunities with global senior leaders at financial services institutions, including banks. At the same time, banks are looking to partner with fintechs to deliver the innovative solutions that their clients demand. At this year’s Sibos you will find fintechs pioneering developments across areas including cross-border payments, back office systems, cyber security, data solutions and more. Sibos helps the financial industry look to the future and consider what will be driving business in the years to come - the work and views of fintechs are crucial to this role.”
Is networking at events like Sibos as important for finance stakeholders as it was in 1978?
Van Es: “Some of the sessions on this year’s Sibos programme, such as ‘Compliance and blockchain’ and ‘The Cloud debate’, wouldn’t mean a thing to the bankers congregated in a modest conference room in Belgium in 1978. However, the value they placed in face-to-face meetings still holds true today. Technological innovation in the last 40 years has facilitated a multitude of ways of keeping in touch but taking the time to attend the right event is still invaluable in creating business opportunities, catching up with contacts and developing new professional relationships.”