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Monthly Posts: June

Solid ground for dream products

Of course EBADay was again highly SEPA centric. If I need to choose a spiritual comment on this subject I will choose ECB Wiebe Ruttenburg's joke who made an association with religion - the end date is something expected by everyone, nobody knows exactly how it will look, nobody knows exactly when it will come, but everyone is singing now the SEPA gospel.

SEPA took the king's crown, and I'm not going to insist on the details, maybe just to mention that Ruth Wandhöfer, Citi, announced that EBF will work on the SEPA guidelines and will come with clarifications on national products which at the first glanced appeared to be niche products, to which appropriate transitional period might be applied, but at a closer look are just flavours of credit transfers or direct debits. So... keep an eye on the EBF site!

Euro Banking Association Day 2010
Other interesting subjects were discussed there, and I will mention just those debated in the sessions I could attended, as I also had duties in our stand as part of being an exhibitor.  I will mention the discussion on the convergence of the trade finance and corporate payments, where Enrico Camerinelli, Aite Group, made a classification of the supply chain finance instruments and added to traditional documentary credits and open accounts the "other" category, in which he included leasing and project financing. The two bankers, members of the panel, agreed that in the new landscape banks will lose the payments business if they are going to focus on specific processes without approaching the entire chain and offering their corporate customers a better visibility on all their processes.

In the same top with the SEPA gospel we now have the innovation blues. It has even a broader audience and its rhythms will accompany us longer, especially after the regulation and the end date will drive the SEPA discussions from the elaboration phase into trivial maintenance.  Guy Moons, Clear2Pay, had a very practical remark that instead of trying to guess who is going to be the winner scheme, banks should focus on implementing robust solutions, built on open standards, which will allow them to build winner products, a link to Standard Charter dream pack offering. You might have a banking answer to your own dreams here!

Hays Littlejohn, UBS AG, came with the front office view on what technology can bring to payments, one of the points being the leverage of the social networks as a means by which social friends can bring their own references to banks. I started to smile thinking at one of our customers, a microfinance institution which offers group loans to its Kenyan clients and who has already implemented a similar model: instead of collateral they are using guarantees offered by "social friends", in their case a group of relatives and friends.

Let's see how gospel and blues are evolving in the European space where, right now, Sirtaky is on the spot...

EBADay from the outside

EBADay - actually it would be more appropriate to call it EBADays, as it lasts for exactly 2 days - is an annual forum organized by the Euro Banking Association and Finextra Research, which gathers payments experts from Europe and the rest of the world. Some, such as Gary Wright, even dare say that EBADay "has grown enormously and now rivals SIBOS for quality of speakers, delegates and exhibitors". This where I have to strongly agree, as we happen to be in that number, having been both Sibos and EBADay exhibitors for quite some time now :).




This year Madrid was chosen as the town fit for hosting such an event, the conference and exhibition taking place at the beautiful Feria de Madrid convention centre.


We have by the past exhibited at this event with our former identity, Business Information Systems, 2011 being a premiere for presenting ourselves under the new trade name of Allevo.




There is a very rich amount of information on EBADay, which has travelled over Twitter with the speed, well not with that of light, but with that of web 2.0. Even our Allevo Daily was 50% taken over by EBADay stories, tweets, pictures & videos.


It is very interesting to get to see stories reported through such diverse pairs of eyes. Of course the Finextra guys did their utmost and came forward with a professional very Sibos-like TV: the EBADay TV, which could easily take more than just 2 days to fully follow. Then a whole lot of people shared insights plus their own understanding and opinions in either thorough blog posts or simple tweets. For someone who only virtually observes the event, such as myself, this type of community is a real gold mine. There's plenty of things to see and a-ha moments to catch.


Judging from outside, the main word on everybody's lips was, as announced and expected, the one and only: SEPA. It comes as no surprise that people calling for an end date of the end date have lately started to multiply.



My colleagues temporarily dispatched to Madrid confirmed that the main subjects of debate were centred around this topic: is there need for two distinct end dates or only one? One end-date for SEPA credit transfers and another one for direct debits or would it be possible to set one single *mandatory* deadline which could cover both?


Aside from the star of the show, SEPA, and other collateral boring subjects, such as Basel III regulations and alike, the next buzz word the EBADay tweetcloud highlights is innovation. And something that always comes up when talking about innovation is collaboration. On collaboration I'm only going to quote JP Morgan's James Barclay, whose line I picked up via EBAday 2011: the Sepa journey nears its end: "Collaboration has driven me to a shrink - the last stage of collaboration is an EBADay panel".


So what my colleagues have shared of their own personal insights is that there is hope for SEPA after all. EBADay seems to have made people very optimistic on the subject or anyhow, more than before June 15th 2011.

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