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Sean Gilchrist, Managing Director, Commercial Digital at Lloyds Banking Group is responsible for developing and delivering the bank’s digital vision and strategy for its Commercial customers. A month on, he reflects on his trip to SIBOS, held in Geneva this year, and some of the key themes coming out of the conference.

Why is attending SIBOS so important?

This is the 3rd year I’ve been at SIBOS representing the digital division of Lloyds Banking Group. SIBOS is the world’s largest conference for global banks and it’s a great opportunity for us to network with other institutions from around the world – not just financial organisations, but tech companies too. I spent my time meeting key people and organisations to get a feel for what others are doing and what is coming down the line in terms of banking and technology on an international level.

What did you get up to when you were there?

I met with a range of representatives from other firms and had a series of discussions with the media and commentators, and also sat on a very interesting panel discussion on the threats and opportunities around Open Banking and the internet of things. It felt like there was more of a buzz there than previous years and it certainly felt to me as if the Group was starting to lead amongst our UK competitors, in particular with our Commercial Banking Online platform that is now live.

Sean G SIBOS Qte on Glass

What exactly is Open Banking and what were the other themes discussed?

The fundamental premise of Open Banking is that the customer’s data maintained by the banks belongs to the customer, and if the customer specifically requests it, then the banks are mandated to share the customer’s data with other 3rd parties.

Open Banking could have a transformative impact on the banking industry and has been mandated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in UK to help increase competition and accelerate innovation.

This Open Banking mandate is in conjunction with, but independent of, European regulations related to the Payment Services Directive or PSD2) – brought about to enhance the payments ecosystem standards, inter-connectedness and transparency – and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which sets standards on data protection.

At Lloyds Banking Group we’re well underway to ensure compliance with these regulations and also exploring commercial opportunities that this new environment could provide.

Open Banking was probably the single biggest theme discussed this year, and it was pretty clear that negotiation, experimentation and testing around Open Banking and PSD2 is top of mind for all of the European banks.

There were also some very interesting discussions around the importance of the client experience and how companies need to focus more on that, and not just on the technology itself.  Other discussions centred on data and cloud banking, which is one of the major areas for growth and opportunity. I saw some really innovative stuff being trialled in virtual reality for banking, and of course issues with cyber-crime and security, which are ever-present on everyone’s agenda.

In previous years, Blockchain has been a recurring theme, but I didn’t hear much of it this year. The common view seemed to be that it probably won’t come into play for a few years yet.

You mentioned innovation – what other kinds of things are being developed?

I really enjoyed discussing some of the exciting innovation coming from banks outside of the UK. For example, I spoke to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia about the faster payments processes and contactless payment methods being used within their Commercial Banking arm. I also heard from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, along with a number of other American banks, that have developed a secure token for mobile apps – there could be some lessons there for banks like ours in the new world of open banking perhaps.

I was also fascinated by some of the great ideas coming out of Wells Fargo in the US where they’re flying drones out over farmland to assess insurance claims and have created an app unique to a specific shopping mall, where their customers can access a range of offers, prompts and loyalty schemes.

What would your one take-home be from the conference?

What really blew me away was something Microsoft told me about their commitment to the development of cloud technology. They have pledged to spend £1bn per quarter on data centres and hardware in support of their cloud strategy. It’s a staggering level of investment and it demonstrates the scale and impact that Microsoft believes the cloud will have on banking. They were adamant that cloud adoption needs to grow alongside a focus on safety, security and compliance, and I completely agree.

Having now returned and reflected on SIBOS, I’m as convinced as ever that we have the right digital strategy at Lloyds Banking Group for our Commercial clients. We have our ear to the ground in terms of what’s happening digitally in the UK as well as internationally and we have the infrastructure and capability to make it happen.

To find out more about the presence Lloyds Banking Group had at SIBOS, please visit our website.

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