4 November 2010

The bankers are back in town

Actually they were back in Amsterdam last week, where they attended SIBOS, the biggest global gathering of financial services providers. And SIBOS was in a happy mood this year. Officially, there were 8,700 participants (an impressive 3,200 more than in 2009 when SIBOS took place in Hong Kong), 209 exhibitors and 175 speakers. All of them were positive and upbeat, you could see a lot of new business coming through and media interest was lively, with more than 100 journalists in attendance. Everyone was keen to agree that cloud computing changes the way banks operate, Basel III actually means something this time and that the Germans should finally stop complaining about the European payments system Sepa because it's too late now.
SIBOS also was in an appy mood. You could see a number of onsite demos such as peterevans' Simply app, the UK's first self-execution stockbroking application, and quite a few people predict that this is just the start of a new era. And some were right in saying that when you see such amazing apps, all the non-virtual stuff is suddenly much less exciting. SIBOS 2010 also debuted its first dedicated panel on social networking. Needless to say the room was packed. As conservative as it is, the industry has started talking about new media at last, and it'll be interesting to see how things develop over the years to come.
You could say that SIBOS is an indicator of the health of the banking industry, and this year it appeared in rude health. According to official records, 4,518 full week passes were sold for SIBOS 2010. With each full week pass coming in at 2,800 EUR, this is some very nice revenue for SWIFT, the conference organiser. But we know it's worth it when you get something out of it. And everyone got something out of it indeed: participants got a feeling of optimism, exhibitors got plenty of leads, speakers got plenty of attention and cab drivers got away with their random pricing of fares.

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