November 29, 2004

At this year's Sibos conference in Atlanta, attendees widely agreed that a speech given by Heidi Miller, head of the treasury and securities services businesses at JPMorgan Chase, hit the mark.

Miller was struck by the banking industry's reliance on paper- and people-intensive tasks. "The amount of customization in this industry and the lack of standardization across countries and across market infrastructures truly amazes me," she told attendees.

Nor was Miller impressed by Check 21. "Instead of getting rid of our paper-check clearing infrastructure, we have created two additional infrastructures - one to process images and one to print IRDs," she said. "Unfortunately, because it is still much cheaper to clear a paper check than it is to print and clear an IRD, it may take years to drive the paper out of the system."

Banks have allowed some big opportunities to slip by, including the chance to facilitate payments for eBay, Miller pointed out. "PayPal built a person-to-person payments solution that met the needs of the market better than any built by banks in the past five years," she said. "We repeatedly allow ourselves to be disintermediated."

Miller also challenged attendees to make cross-border transactions easier and cheaper; reduce the IT and operations costs of securities and payments transactions; and make SWIFT the network for virtually all international payments and securities-related transactions by 2007.

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