Constructing the future of Financial Services at SWIFT’s Business Forum in Mexico City
The banking community of Mexico joined together at SWIFT’s Business Forum in the capital to discuss how the industry should build the future of financial services. It may not come as a surprise, but cyber security dominated the day. SWIFT’s Executive Director of the Americas and the UK, Javier Pérez-Tasso opened the event by stating that ‘the cyber attacks that the financial sector receives are four times greater than those of other industries’, calling on necessity of the industry to work together to combat these threats. He placed emphasis on the importance of information sharing as a key means for industry collaboration. Perez-Tasso outlined the major trends the industry is facing at present: innovation, cyber-security and combating anti-money laundering. If you attended any conference in banking in any corner of the globe, these topics would also top the list of priorities the industry must focus on over the coming months and years.
The marriage between Fintech organisations and the incumbent banking industry was a topic that clearly is as pertinent in Mexico as in other nations, with the sentiment being that right now the two were courting, but that a marriage is highly likely. Panellists discussed how it is necessary for the traditional banks not to view fintech as competition and find opportunities for partnering. CIBanco indicated why is necessary to innovate and that ‘it is a welcome competition’ so long as fintechs are properly regulated. BBVA Bancomer, often touted as leading the charge with regards to innovation, noted that Fintechs often have certain channel advantages that can be complementary to banks. Cyber-security was considered fundamental, and few can argue with that Fintechs are organisations often at the front line of information and communication and there is the possibility to use this technology to ensure robust security. Banco de Mexico, the Mexican central bank, stated that ‘there is no total security’, there is always a threat risk and organisations must keep monitoring their security systems as the industry and technology changes. Blockchain and distributed technology present interesting opportunities but the security implications must be explored fully to ensure robust usage by private sector.
As an esteemed selection of panellists took to the stage for a session entitled ‘Constructing tomorrow, today’, amongst others that touched on payments. Whilst this title may seem to be trying to boil the ocean, it is the modern challenge for banks – building systems that are functional for today but flexible for the future. ‘Multi-access’ financial products were essential for customers and clients if banks wanted to play in the future payments landscape. There must be efficient and sufficient processes and products to support the plethora of customer needs in 21st century banking, and customer needs must be the focus. Customers want more flexible, faster and secure banking options, with integration across devices being paramount.
It may be that the Mexican banking market sees a degree of specialisation in the future, as banks focus on particular customer segments.
It is reassuring to know that the challenges and opportunities for the banking community are fairly harmonious across borders. There is a Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory full of new technology and banks are racing towards the golden ticket trying to make it safe, secure and reliable for their customers. It may be that more genuinely global collaboration could assist with finding global solutions to these issues.