Another Sibos has come and gone and with it, we hope, many lessons were learned. What I saw as the most prominent message at the show was the fact that corporates the world over want more control, more say over how their payments are processed and how they interact with their banks.This doesn't surprise me, and probably won't surprise many of our readers. That kind of demanding behavior has certainly been the subject of a number of articles that I've written about so this was nothing new to me. It was obvious the banks understand they have to do something about this. But just what that "something" is happens to be the $65 million question.
The corporates certainly had a thing or two to say about this, however-faster payments processing, richer remittance information and greater risk awareness were just some of the suggestions floated around in the sessions that I attended. There was one particularly interesting session on supply chain management. Enrico Camerinelli, chief knowledge manager and European director, The Supply Chain Council, was one of the presenters and had a sort of "to do" list for banks that wish to help their corporate clients more. Items included: Helping to assess and manage risk in the supply chain; speak about solutions and not individual products; provide knowledge and expertise to help internal sales at client; and share a common language with corporates.
"Corporates are trying to close the gap," Camerinelli said. "Bank need to do the same and speak the supply chain language. Banks don't have to be supply chain experts but they should be able to talk intelligently with their clients."
At another session on corporates in SWIFT, Alex Harris, group treasurer, Virgin Atlantic Airways, said flat out that although it's a great idea that SWIFT is letting corporates access its network, the model the organization uses is "weighted heavily in favor of huge companies with the economic muscle to influence banks to meet their needs."
Those companies that don't meet the criteria to connect to SWIFT via Score must fall back on the old member administered closed user group (MACUG) model, which, according to Harris, is far more cumbersome. "Banks in general are reacting very slowly in catering to the needs of midsize corporates," Harris commented. He didn't think there were many attempts out there to standardize and streamline the MACUG model. "There are benefits to corporates in joining SWIFT, but so far, these are only being realized by the very largest corporations."
In general, there seemed to be a need for greater cooperation among the banks that are a part of SWIFT. One speaker made a very good point. He said something to the effect that every year at Sibos, banks gather in one place and vow to work together and promote ideas to help the industry and their corporate clients do business better and more efficiently. But as soon as the show is over, the bankers return to their offices and go right back to competing again.
Will this year be any different?