With thousands of banks and a growing number of corporations attending each year, the Brussels-based international banking network SWIFT's annual Sibos conference has become a crucial forum for debates in transaction banking. This year's conference, to be held in Amsterdam, will be no exception. In this special Sibos section, Global Finance highlights four key issues that are likely to generate particular interest at the conference. Transaction banks have always maintained that the payment is commoditized, but their corporate customers are demanding higher levels of innovation from the banks, particularly around the information that accompanies payments, eliminating the costs and inefficiencies associated with paper and enabling clients to initiate and authorise payments via multiple channels.
At this year's conference innovations around mobile wallets, next generation payment hubs and cash management portals are likely to dominate the debate. Another area in which banks are demonstrating increasing interest is global remittances. Worth an estimated $420 billion according to World Bank estimates, this market is dominated by money transfer agencies such as Western Union. However, the banks believe they can add value through compliance and risk management, particularly as more remittances move online or are sent via mobile wallets. With the financial crisis having dented global trade and the supply of trade finance, bankers will also be discussing the state of the trade finance market and how they are integrating their cash and trade businesses more closely to address the working capital needs in companies' financial supply chains. Although this year's conference is in Amsterdam, Asia is also likely to remain a major theme not only this year but also in years to come as growth in that region outstrips the developed world and transaction banks come under increasing pressure to provide a more localized and relevant offering to companies looking to do business in one of the fastest growing regions in the world.