SWIFT’s Sibos conference reportedly pushing out crypto firms

Posted: 20 August 2018 11:00 am

Crypto payment companies say they’re not welcome at the SWIFT-organised conference.

The annual Sibos conference is a mainstay of the financial services industry, but this year’s conference in Sydney has sparked a bit of controversy with rumours that the event organisers are driving out cryptocurrency-related participants, Financial News (FN) reports.

It’s not a far-fetched theory. The event is organised by the SWIFT payment network, and it’s no secret that the organisation has come under an impending cryptocurrency shadow lately, with a reliance on legacy systems that perhaps leaves it unable to adapt to the future technology as quickly as it would like.

At the same time, Sibos head Chantal van Es has pointed out that it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with SWIFT, and that many cryptocurrency firms would find themselves ruled out of attending as a natural process of elimination.

“Only relevant players can attend. Fintechs will have to be valid partners [to financial institutions]. It has to be more than an idea,” she said. “Because of this, there has been a “natural elimination process… we have not received many applications because of that.”

Another spokesperson similarly denied that cryptocurrency firms were being deliberately cut out of the conference. “We have invited a wide range of fintechs to Sibos and have accepted applications from companies, including those with crypto-asset related solutions,” they said.

But some fintech firms have reportedly been directly told that the event is cracking down on crypto startups to make sure the event is “more exclusive,” and that Sibos wanted to prevent “ragbags” from attending.

FN says the move has been decried as a short-sighted tantrum and a last-gasp effort to push back against encroaching technologies.

A former SWIFT executive backs up the theory, but doesn’t attribute it to cryptocurrency directly so much as SWIFT just getting fed up with so many people trash talking it each year.

There’s “a bit of frustration and nervousness” at SWIFT, they said, around “people talking about new technologies and crypto… It’s their conference and they are fed up with companies talking negatively about SWIFT.”

It’s a fair point. The “what problem does this solve?” element is a standard part of any pitch, and SWIFT would have to be pretty masochistic to invite a horde of competitors to the event.

Plus, cryptocurrency isn’t the only part of fintech, and there are a heck of a lot of cryptocurrency payment solutions out there, at least some of which are probably “ragbags.” SWIFT’s business is directly and existentially threatened by these projects, but even if it wasn’t, there would probably still be good reasons to push some attendees off the stage.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and ADA.

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