The X-ray of a successful event

It’s not too late to provide you the X-ray of EBAday, a successful event, the on-site impressions of BIS’ delegates, just published in Bank Watch Magazine, July’s issue. Read it in Romanian on our site here.

X-ray of a successful event

Two years ago, while talking about SEPA and important European conferences aiming at this topic, we received a strong recommendation about EBAday. We took this advice and last year in Vienna, Business Information Systems was an exhibitor at EBAday for the first time. At that moment the focus was on PSD and, above all the subjects, everybody was concerned about the crisis effects.
In May 2010, Business Information Systems exhibited for the second time at EBAday. The conference was held in Luxembourg and it was a nice surprise to see that not only it was excellently organized, but also had a relaxing atmosphere, interesting subjects debates and good networking.

Just like in the previous year, each team member chose the sessions that best answered their questions and concerns and, at the same time, the huge TV monitors on the hallway were a great opportunity to watch the live debates right from the booth.

In the Opening Plenary, Alistair Newton, VP Research, Gartner, began by asking “do banks invest in innovating the payments?”. The next step was a quick presentation on banks concerns, consumers & corporate wishes, pressure exerted by the social networks and associated payments methods on the banking system and hence the banks need to develop value added services. He ended in an American style, with an interesting conclusion, about how to succeed in payments innovation, here are just two of his secrets: on one hand, differentiation and customization, and, on the other, focus on the processing cost.

The audience attending the conference on ‘needs and challenges of the corporate in SEPA context, exceeded the expectations, so many of the participants had to stand. The most interesting part was a case study on SEPA schemes adoption by a public administration: Deutsche Post Renten Service. Stephan Scheigen, Cash Management director stressed that their system is already SEPA compliant, at the end of April it had processed 1,5 Million payments, and by the end of this year all payments will be SEPA migrated. The atmosphere became animated when he announced a monthly payments volume of 24 Million. The most important identified challenges are: an error free migration to IBAN and a solution for return of the payments that presently go to the beneficiary through the old system. However, ECB statistics won’t be directly affected because they aggregate the volumes of the settlement and clearing infrastructures located in euro area and Deutsche Post Renten Service uses the bilateral clearing model.

Another surprise of this EBADay edition was the keen interest of bankers in corporates, not only in sessions but even around a coffee. They even seemed disappointed by the number of participating corporates (although the participants number this year increased with more than 100) and their lack of excitement. During the innovation panel, Lee Fulmer, IBM, Global Payment Executive, recommended bankers to visit clients and spend an entire week with them, in order to acknowledge their needs (Lee had spiced his presence by commenting on Twitter the first day’s events and declaring his first frustration given by the endless discussions about electronic invoicing and mobile payments).

Why all of the sudden this concern of the bankers for their corporate clients and their needs? Corporates are not a newly occurred segment on the financial market. I got a two-way answer. On one hand, the diversity of the corporates makes their needs more difficult to define and classify. On the other hand, as Werner Steinmuller, member of Group Executive Committee Deutsche Bank said banks must clearly identify the needs of their clients because of the generally low margins in the cash management business they have to make sure their solutions meet clients needs (bear in mind that non returning on the important investments already made is not an option, and that Deutsche Bank invested in SEPA 14 Million EURO).

This year the conference managed to cover interesting topics for everyone: the outsourcing session was the main attraction for Finland representatives, Belgium and Netherlands participants were concerned about the possibility of the SEPA market to be divided by additional optional services and by the way they will succeed to win corporate interest on SEPA, the British were concerned about liquidity management and the new FSA requirements related to intra-day position, and, above all, everybody was waiting for the announcement of a final date to SEPA standards migration. In this context, I wondered why no EC representative was invited to debate on this topic (last year Javier Palmero Zurdo presented EC point of view on most discussed PSD articles). Mr. Hansjorg Nymphus, EBA Chairman, explained that the association wants the event to be a strategic visions exposure, a trend setter. At that moment, and not only then (all solutions providers got visited from their country fellow participants), I was sorry that the Romanian banking community had no (other) representatives at the event.

The closing plenary had a new format, the sessions moderators were invited to summarize the main ideas of their panels. We heard a story which was allegedly real: close to the ending of the cold war, the British Government team, led by John Major, visited Russia during Gorbachev administration for a meeting on economy-related matters. John Major asked Gorbachev to shortly describe the economy status. Gorbachev answer was: Good. John Major diplomatically asks again to further detail his statement because the economic figures are looking bad. Gorbachev took a minute to think it over and answered: Not Good! Everybody laughed and the moderator made a summary of his session, the one related to innovation, by saying that this joke reflects the not-so-good relationship between innovation and costs cutting.

For the moment, in the innovation vs execution dispute, the execution partisans seem to have gained the battle. If the systems they build are reliable and performant, iterative, capable to adapt and react to market changes, in the end they just might win.

Which is the worst position in this context? Not playing!


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