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Sibos 2019 Report – Wells Fargo, UK FX Market, Blockchain Blockages

By Daniel Webber | Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Lots of themes at Sibos in London this year and so it makes sense to start with the positioning of the UK in the FX markets.

UK’s Dominant Position

UK politics aren’t pretty at the moment but if you’re in the FX business the Bank of International Settlements new triennial FX numbers may give you something to smile about.

Uk FX Market Position BIS

The UK has expanded its position as the dominant FX market in the world over the last three years. The biggest losers over this period were the US and Japan.

Inside Wells Fargo’s payment strategy

I spent some time at Sibos with Judd Holyroyde, SVP and Head of Global Product Management. Wells Fargo operates in 31 markets and Judd focuses on the bank’s international products. We talked about developing the customer experience and shifting big banks away from physical banking to using digital (often FinTech) partnerships to expand geographical reach.

Our conversation below covered many of the major Sibos conference themes:

On Fintech Partnerships

A good example of this is Wells Fargo’s partnership with Transfermate on global receivables. Some insight into how Judd thinks about these partnerships:

“There’s a lot of power in these partnerships when there’s an integrated partnership as a customer, as an operating partner within the bank. A big part of the solution is the actual Wells Fargo products Transfermate uses to help complete this part of process.”

Patience and process

We know that the partnership took several years to put together and anyone who is partnering with a bank will understand why. As Judd says:

“We need to make sure, again from an AML perspective, that we can account for every individual transaction. Essentially, as Transfermate brings these transactions into their network, they’re re-transacting each transaction into our network.

On Connected Banking / Open Banking:

Open Banking was another major topic, but the complexities run deep and when I talked with other bankers, it is clear that while the end points may be there, there is still a lot of work to do under the hood. Ultimately, as Judd puts it:

“They [the customer] may find something really cool in the market that gives them additive value, but in the end, you’re [the bank is] their ultimate protector.”

Blockchain blockages

Blockchain was a topic at Sibos but it was by no means front and center. I talked to many bankers (including Wells Fargo who recently launched a DLT initiative) and also some of the blockchain providers such as R3 Corda.

One of the core challenges right now is the differing demands and focuses of the market participants.

Blockchain cross-border payments issues

Which means there is still some work to do to bridge these differences. Bankers like common standards and we do not seem to be much closer to that goal.

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