More than 300 delegates from leading global and local banks, securities firms, corporates, regulators, technology partners, consulting and research companies gathered in Tokyo on 4 June after the national member group asked for SWIFT to bring back the Business Forum after two years' absence.
Eddie Haddad, Managing Director of SWIFT Asia Pacific explained: "We are very pleased with the overwhelming response we see from the local financial community to come together and talk about SWIFT, as well as the quality of speakers and panellists. We are especially encouraged by the large corporate turnout, as this is a key target market given the size of the Japanese economy and its important role in global trade."
In the welcome remarks, Chris Flanagan, Head of Markets & Initiatives emphasised that Tokyo remains a global financial centre and its role in driving change in the collaborative space remains key. He pointed to the fact that JASDEC's migration to ISO 20022 will drive deeper adoption for this international standard, setting the example not just for CSDs but for market infrastructures around the world. Chris also noted that Japan's growth cannot come only from within but depends on increasing its business across borders: "Japan's future is about a brighter domestic economy and also, critically, the next 30 years of internationalisation for financial institutions and corporations will be as important as or even more critical than the last 30."
This year's business forum has received strong support from senior executives of Japan's local banks namely, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Board member Yumesaku Ishigaki, Executive Officer, General Manager, Transaction Banking Division & Global Head of Transaction Banking at BTMU, gave his official update from the SWIFT Board meetings, including shedding light on SWIFT2020 plans.
In the keynote speech, Jun Ohta, Senior Managing Director of SMBC in candid honesty, talked about the changing environment surrounding the transaction banking business and what it means for Japan. He called for Japanese banks to recognise that "financial power is provided by being connected and flexible" and urged the community to get prepared for the risks and challenges coming ahead that will affect the whole industry.
And that includes leading IT and e-commerce companies entering the financial services market and the increasing number of cyber-attacks, as well as new regulations and compliance risks.
"Keeping up with the shifting regulatory landscape should be one of the top priorities for us; banks should invest in the right technology to stay ahead of the curve as compliance regulations continue to evolve. Having the right strategy in place is important to all of us, together with what SWIFT, our cooperative, could do to help us, we should be able not only overcome the challenges, but contribute in the growth of the country and make life easier for our customers and everyone." Mr. Ohta concluded.