Avi Ghosh, Head of Strategic Marketing & Communications, SIX Securities Services
As Sibos 2017 comes to a close, the hall’s a little quieter and the meetings fewer and far between, I caught up with our Head of Markets & Clients, Valerio Roncone, to reflect on the week. One thing we agreed on is that, this year, there’s been a real shift to the ‘back to business’ ethos. While, over the past couple of years, conversations have focused on the newest and most innovative technologies, in Toronto, we’ve seen the needle move to questions such as “what value does this bring to my business?” and even “is this business model still adequate?”.
That’s not to say that there isn’t still a firm focus on technology and innovation, but it’s much more within the context of what can be achieved, and how it can be best applied to solve real problems. It’s fair to say that we’re beyond the “technology for technology’s sake” phase.
For example, earlier this week we launched our Advanced Tax Service – Reclaim. It’s a service that essentially allows us to get refunds for double taxation of interest and dividends from foreign investments. Prior to this service, Swiss investors were incurring significant losses as a result of the current complex and opaque process. This is a clear example of how we’re working to really provide value to our clients, and in turn, their end clients, too. It also serves as an example of how we focused primarily on identifying the problem, and then applying the relevant solution, which in this case wasn’t a technology such as blockchain.
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In our post-trade panel session this week, Chris Church, Chief Business Development Officer of Digital Asset, said that when working with new clients, the first question they will always ask is “have you tried solving this problem without distributed ledger technology?” Although that might seem initially alarming to hear from someone whose entire business hinges on DLT, it’s actually quite reassuring – we’re witnessing how all industry participants are now looking to identify the business problem first, then apply the right solution that will bring the most value.
As times change, we absolutely need to assess whether certain business models are still fit for today, and more importantly, for the future. The likelihood is that with so many new technologies at our fingertips, there will be newer, more efficient and cheaper ways of doing things. What is encouraging to see though, is that we’re at a stage where we’re coming at these problems from a business perspective, and then applying the most suitable technology or solution.