Over 150 members of the Benelux financial community gather to discuss fintech, compliance and the future of the payments market
The fifth SWIFT Benelux Forum took place at SWIFT’s headquarters in La Hulpe on 25 and 26 April 2016. The event, which has grown in attendance from year to year, attracted a record number of over 150 participants under the theme “From disruption to concrete (r)evolution.” Welcoming customers to the forum, Olivier Lens, Head of Benelux and Funds & Investment Management, SWIFT, opened with a flashback review of the changes that have taken place in the financial industry over the last 15 years, from the “golden years” of steep growth, to the financial crisis that started with the collapse of Lehman brothers, the wave of regulatory change that ensued, and the years that have followed, during which the financial industry has been reviewing strategies and business models, focusing on investor protection, rebuilding trust, and seeking to regain stability and get back on the path to growth. “Regulation has been on all of our minds,” he said, “it’s costly and new regulations take time to implement, but there is no choice other than to comply.” At the same time, customer expectations have evolved, technology has evolved and we have seen the emergence of a flurry of activity and significant investment in financial technology (fintech). The rise of non-banking entities offering cheap and fast payments services poses a threat to the financial industry, but, said Lens, it also offers many an opportunity. Whilst Price Waterhouse Coopers has said that fintech will threaten 20% of the financial industry, 70% of CEOs see it as an opportunity. “If we want to give our customers value, stated Lens, “it’s about collaboration. I believe we will see more of an evolution than a revolution.”
Lens went on to talk about the importance of Benelux to SWIFT, explaining that all three countries in the region are in SWIFT’s top ten countries for FIN traffic. The region has also seen ten years of growth on SWIFT, many of which were in or close to double digits, which has enabled members to benefit from the economies of scale model of the cooperative and many a price reduction. The region is also well represented on the SWIFT board, with 4 board members out of the total 25. Thanking everyone present for their support, commitment and dedication, he proceeded to run through the agenda for the day quickly, highlighting the sessions with panels and customer involvement, before handing over to Thierry Chilosi, Head of Market Initiatives, EMEA, SWIFT, for a presentation followed by panel discussion on the SWIFT 2020 strategy and roadmap.