Heading “Down Under” one more time; SIBOS Sydney 2018 beckons to FIs worldwide!

Sydney Harbor provides a wonderful backdrop to any gathering held around its shores and in a couple of weeks’ time, SIBOS Sydney 2018 will kick-off. Will you be there? 


There is no escaping the inherent beauty that is Sydney or hiding the fact that the best way to approach Sydney’s Circular Quay is on a traditional Manly Ferry. As you make that final turn into the ferry terminal, the city opens up to provide a panoramic view that sweeps from the Opera House to the International Terminal and then, should you pivot to your right as it’s just behind you, Sydney’s famous Harbor Bridge. Or, the coat hanger, as it was referred to for much of the bridge’s life.

This photo was taken the last time I was on Sydney Harbor back in 2013 and I have to believe much has changed. Looks like there was a Princess cruise ship tied up at the terminal and much of Sydney’s popularity as a tour destination has a lot to do with the first impression made on all visitors arriving by sea. And yes, you can book a sailing excursion on a racing yacht, although I am not sure the one pictured here ever raced in any challenge for that “Auld Mug” prized in sailing above all else – the America’s Cup.

However, my return to Sydney in just a few weeks’ time is a mix of business with a little down time thrown in as and when time allows, a BizCation of sorts, if you like! Fortunately, through the generosity of family and friends, Margo and I will have a place to stay and yes, an office out of which we will be working. As we arrive in Sydney, our focus on business kicks in almost immediately as Sydney will play host to SIBOS Sydney, 2018. While I missed out on the opportunity to participate in SIBOS Toronto, 2017 – a short trip up north for us – reading that this year’s SIBOS event would be in Sydney set the wheels in motion and now I am really looking forward to this major event for the financial community.

If you aren’t familiar with SIBOS, then you need to know that is THE global financial services networking event organized each year by SWIFT. According to the brief I was provided, “The preeminent annual conference and exhibition connects more than 8,000 executives, decision makers and thought-leaders from financial institutions, market infrastructures, multinational corporations and technology partners. Sibos facilitates debate, networking and business collaboration that collectively shapes the future of payments, securities, cash management and trade.” This brief was given to me as I will be a part of a small team of journalists and bloggers covering the event and for that, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity afforded me by the great folks at BankingTech.

If you aren’t all that familiar with SIBOS, “it started out as a banking operations seminar in 1978, has grown into the premier business forum for the global financial community to debate and collaborate in the areas of payments, securities, cash management and trade.” If you have any association with Tandem computers or as they are now known, HPE NonStop Systems, then you know that the biggest part of the business is in support of Financial Institution (FIs) and that globally, $3.6+trillion credit and debit card volume each year - see below:


While this post isn’t a promotion of NonStop or of its leadership position in payments processing, for the NonStop community it’s often overlooked just how big a role NonStop plays in support of FIs globally and while there are numerous alternatives to NonStop available to FIs, it’s that history of processing transactions, 24 x 7 x forever, that continues to resonate with CIOs everywhere. It was just a few short weeks ago that the NonStop user group, OzTUG, wrapped up their annual meeting staged in both Sydney and Melbourne and perhaps the main drawcard proved to be security and blockchain.

Yes, the R3 Corda has been ported to NonStop and the NonStop underpinnings of HPE’s new Mission Critical Distributed Ledger Technology (MCDLT) as blockchain on HPE NonStop is being called, already has its first deployments in the field and early stage pilot in Australia. However, the first candidate for full rollout will likely be on the other side of the Pacific in South America where one payments solution vendor, OmniPayments, has completed a successful Proof of Concept (PoC). To hear of this from solutions vendors responding to market needs with their implementation of technologies like blockchain is very encouraging for all NonStop stakeholders.

When you look at the program for SIBOS Sydney, the sheer diversity of presentations is hard to ignore. You need to know more about open banking, AI, Cyberattacks / Cybersecurity, Blockchain and yes, even Quantum Computing, then this is going to be the place you want to find way to get there. Time is winding down but the opportunities to participate are still open for all and I am going to be looking at the future of payments processing and the inroads mobile devices are making into traditional banking. We read so much about transformation of late, whether it is transforming to Hybrid IT or simply transforming to a digital core, it’s hard to escape the message of transformation and for good reason. Put it down to the power now being wielded by the end users – whether teenagers on smartphones or even businesses run from tablets – the tail has certainly warmed to the task of shaking the dog!  
  
Perusing the SIBOS web site – and it provides a comprehensive look at all the topics to be covered, I was struck by the obvious, “the world’s businesses and consumers are migrating to a digital economy, banks and financial service providers are making their own transformational journeys, reappraising and reengineering their business models, service offerings and relationships with third parties.” For the NonStop community, this is already being witnessed as this process can be traced back to when NonStop elected to support the Intel x86 architecture and in so doing, responded to those FIs looking for HPE to support commodity hardware with open software and standard APIs. With NonStop X, this has pretty much been achieved and puts NonStop users at the forefront of migrations to the digital economy. Or, as HPE often reminds its users, the pursuit of the idea economy!

However, SIBOS then adds to the above, suggesting that when it comes to transformation, “This can be seen in the rapid adoption of common utilities to meet compliance needs and develop standards-based platforms – including SWIFT’s KYC Registry and global payments innovation service.” And here we go again – KYC and yes, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) – candidates for blockchain and indeed the work being done with NonStop X on the other side of the Pacific is exactly for this reason. Know Your Customer (KYC) will likely lead to even greater adoption of MCDLT, according to HPE and those NonStop vendors with pilots already planned or under way.

For those who may not be familiar with SWIFT it’s worth pointing out that it has become a “global member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services” or, as they are keen to let us know, “provide our community with a platform for messaging, standards for communicating and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration; identification, analysis and financial crime compliance.” As a community NonStop stakeholders are cognizant of the marketing opportunities that this represents and even when I was a product manager at Tandem Computers, the message types, formats and protocols were a major requirement that the company and its partners stepped up to support.

The resultant population of NonStop systems driving payments switches is a direct result of the early embrace of SWIFT by NonStop and its support for the exchange of standardized financial messages. It is uniquely positioned as not just the “postmaster general” for all financial transactions but as the equivalent of the airport traffic controller advising who goes where and who has authority to land or takeoff. For all product managers in the NonStop ecosystem, this will be the place to take it all in and I am now aware that there will be members of the NonStop community present apart from myself. 


Part of the reason I am returning to Sydney is to join in the celebrations – my daughter has a birthday, there is my old high school reunion and yes, like the world over, I want to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks display that Sydney put on each year. Waking up in North America, New Years’ Eve we always welcomed TV coverage from Sydney and it’s a celebration I have put off for far too long. It was never like this when I lived there! SIBOS too will be a celebration as well, as Sydney will turn on a show even without the fireworks. Although, returning to the agenda, some topics may generate fireworks among the participants – it always happens, but that is really the value that big-tent events like SIBOS provide everybody doing everything that has anything to do with payments will be there and yes, I am looking forward to meeting all of you! Safe travels and yes, even now, I hear the siren call from Sydney Harbor beckoning my return!   

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