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400+ delegates gather in Istanbul for the SWIFT Regional Conference: Turkey & Middle East

400+ delegates gather in Istanbul for the SWIFT Regional Conference: Turkey & Middle East

15 November 2019

Discussions took place around the next generation of payments and how to manage risk in an increasingly digitised world

More than 400 delegates from 30 countries joined us at this year’s SWIFT Regional Conference: Turkey & Middle East in Istanbul, Turkey.

Onur Ozan, Head of Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, opened the conference and highlighted how the payments industry, a relatively unchanging business in the past, is now evolving rapidly.

Customer expectations and behaviour are changing rapidly, said Ozan. Consumers and retailers alike now expect money to follow goods at the same speed, if not faster.

TMERC 2019

Looking to the future, Ozan stressed that value will need to shift further, faster, from account to account instantly. “Value transfers must be friction free,” he said. “They must also be safe, secure and compliant. While banks sit at the centre of this, the core architecture is key. It must be open and trusted, innovative and resilient; its reach must be global and its operations robust. It must enable smart, embedded, instant payments, 24/7 from every account to every account, everywhere.”

TMERC 2019

Dr. Emrah Şener, Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, delivered the keynote and illustrated how money has changed shape over time, from bartering to coins, paper money to digital currencies – but even in a digital world trust will be paramount.

“The way we interact with each other dictates the form of money we use,” he said. “People are now coming together on digital platforms. The digital world requires a new form of money. Central bankers need to admit this. Those developing digital currencies have a head start, because soon digitalisation will be the norm.”

The payments industry is getting ready for the future, said Alain Raes, Chief Business Development Officer at SWIFT.

“Financial institutions have to focus on the customer experience,” he said. “It is no longer about the products and services that the banking industry provides, it is the way that these products and services are delivered that make the difference.”

TMERC 2019

Raes argued that delivering instant payments, 24-7, is key to remaining relevant in this changing landscape. Around the world, many domestic market infrastructures have begun delivering instant payments, but Raes’ key question is whether this experience can take place at an international level, since international payments need to move through a certain number of frictions, including currency exchange and regulatory compliance checks at each step of the payments process.

Discussions over the two days focused on the next generation of payments and specifically how new and disruptive financial technologies are re-shaping the market and putting pressure on traditional models. Additionally, delegates discussed how financial institutions can manage risk in an increasingly digitised world. With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated, better organised and better funded, cyber was high on the agenda. Sessions looked at what banks can do to protect themselves from the cyber threat, and the role of lawmakers and regulators in supporting them.

You can read the full report from the event here.

TMERC 2019 - Special report