Joy Macknight

The annual transaction banking jamboree is back in person, with around 8000 bankers, fintechs, big techs and payment providers, among others, expected to descend on Amsterdam in early October.

Sibos, Swift’s annual community conference, is gearing up for its first face-to-face event in three years. From October 10 to 13, Amsterdam will play host to around 8000 across the transaction banking industry excited to be in person after a three-year hiatus.

While Sibos continued in a virtual format during the Covid-19 pandemic, with record-breaking registered participant numbers – 22,000 in 2020 and 19,000 in 2021 – there is nothing quite like eye-to-eye contact in this relationship-based business.

The last time the event was held in Amsterdam was in 2010, when it attracted more than 8900 delegates. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis (Vienna, 2008) – and a typhoon (Hong Kong, 2009) – Swift departed from its pattern of circling the globe eastward, from Europe to Asia and then America, and brought Sibos back to its home region to pull the banking community together, rebuild trust and focus on recovery.

This year, the theme is “progressive finance for a changing world”, with a focus on digital transformation, emerging risks, sustainability and ethical change. The conference has gone “paperless” to fit in with the emphasis on sustainability.

The Banker’s September issue is our Sibos special, and carries several articles to prepare attendees for some of the hot topics under discussion at the event.

Liz Lumley kicks off our special issue with an in-depth look at the challenges to digitising the paper-laden, slow and inefficient trade finance ecosystem – something that will require a worldwide mindset change, not solely a technology change. In addition, Barbara Pianese drills down into new trade finance solutions gaining traction in Latin America, as trade flows recover across the region.

Burhan Khadbai looks at the changing European payments landscape, especially the role the rebooted European Payments Initiative will play in supporting greater digitisation across the region. And Kimberley Long uncovers the risks posed by the uneven rollout of Basel III in Asia.

The Banker’s team of editors will be out in force at the event, covering the buzz on the conference floor and in sessions. The keynote industry speakers have been announced, including: Catherine Bessant, vice-chair, global strategy at Bank of America; Xu Zaiyue, CEO of CIPS; Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank and chair of the Financial Stability Board, and Dinesh Khara, chairman of the State Bank of India, to name just a few.

Liz Lumley will be hosting the View from Sibos video series, interviewing the great and the good in the industry. See the preview episode here.

We will also be presenting trophies to the winners of The Banker’s Transaction Banking Awards 2022. Despite the headwinds faced by the industry over the past year, innovation in the industry has not stood still, particularly in the areas of real-time and cross-border payments, digitisation and sustainability. Congratulations to all the winners in 2022. Please join us at our stand B85 at 16:00 local time on Tuesday October 11 to raise a glass to the outstanding transaction banking teams of the year.

For those attending Sibos in person, I have two pieces of advice: wear comfortable shoes (sound advice at any time) and build breaks into your schedule. While many may have heroically coped with the four-day marathon of back-to-back meetings in previous years, returning to face-to-face interaction requires a different stamina level than Zoom meetings. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to be kinder to ourselves.

Joy Macknight is editor of The Banker. Follow her on Twitter @joymacknight

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