Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi
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September 2013

Editorial

The Sibos jamboree heads for Dubai

Sibos is the annual banking conference organised by SWIFT, the bank owned provider of secure financial messaging services. Sibos has become the ‘must-attend’ conference for bankers, technology suppliers and consultants who are involved in all aspects of the transactional banking business. The conference is held in different parts of the world each year and there are 6,000+ attendees most years. What do they all do? Well, there are some serious debates at Sibos and informative conference sessions but it is also a big party as banking friends get together and the booze flows from the stands.

The real world also intrudes. Those that attended Sibos in Vienna five years ago will always remember ‘Sibos Monday’ as attendees learnt of the demise of Lehman Brothers. The lasting and stark image of that event is of massive stands empty of content and people, as well as disappearing keynote speakers.

Last year the empty stand spaces at Sibos in Osaka, Japan reflected a different reality. The Chinese banks, who have had a growing presence at Sibos in recent years, all withdrew from the conference in Osaka over the dispute with Japan over the sovereignty of eight uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Nonetheless SWIFT claims to have had 6,250 attendees in Osaka, the largest ever attendance in Asia Pacific. Those that were there are sceptical as to whether they had all turned up but Asia Pacific is still predicted to supply 45% of this year’s attendees. This is a clear sign of the growing importance of SWIFT in the region and just as importantly of this region to SWIFT. EMEA is next in significance with 42%.

It is the ME bit of EMEA that Sibos is visiting this year, with the conference going to the Middle East for the first time. It will be interesting to see attendance levels in this new location. SWIFT expects more than 6,000 attendees including a few corporate treasurers to descend on Dubai from 16th-19th September.

To attract corporates Sibos has, for the sixth consecutive year, included a dedicated two-day Corporate Forum as part of its programme, under the main theme of “accelerating innovation in treasury and trade”. Anita Prasad, General Manager – Treasury at Microsoft and Alawi Al-Shurafa, Treasurer at Saudi Chevron, will join the opening panel to discuss best practice in centralising treasury functions and there are a few other corporate speakers over the following two days. But Sibos is not really a corporate forum and the corporate attendees will typically be from big companies with the larger and more complex transactional banking requirements who use SWIFT messaging to communicate with their banks.

Sibos is as much about the chats outside the formal sessions as it is about the agenda topics. The conference attracts the main decision-makers in banking and payments. In many ways, that is the secret to Sibos’ continuing success – as a networking event for the banking industry, it is unrivalled, allowing participants to meet the people they need to in order to do business.

Treasury Today will be in Dubai, reporting on the conference and uncovering what is going on behind the scenes.