Tales of a #roadwarrior – Temenos “Built On” and the power of connections

by in Blog Post December 9, 2019

The last 6 weeks have been some of the most excellent and exhausting of my time at Temenos, as we rolled out our first Developer events, the Temenos Labs “Built-On” series. These events were targeted specifically to our developers and were built around the idea of exposing more of the hands-on elements that the Temenos platform offers. We chose to focus the events for Q4 around the topic du jour in banking, Open Banking. The interest and uptake in the discussion was very exciting for me, and I wanted to share some of the key things from the events that stood out to me.

My first stop was the land down under, and the Sydney event did not disappoint, with attendees from a variety of digital, challenger, and established banks. The conversation around the Australia-specific version of Open Banking, called CDR, was lively with the primary focus being on the impact to the institutions themselves in terms of implementation and responsibility for delivering compliance. This was a theme that was common throughout, and the best answer that I can give to this is to start earlier than later. Banks who scramble to play catch up with open banking are going to be the big losers in the competition landscape versus those that get something to the market sooner and adjust on the fly as the rules are updated.

Temenos AUS Team at our Sydney Event

Singapore followed Australia and the SFF/SWITCH festival and API Craft meetups were a great environment to meet a ton of fintech disruptors, and partners that are focusing on the larger picture of banking as an ecosystem. I think the thing that stood out to me the most was the HUGE proliferation of “non-traditional” fintech players making real and interesting pushes into the space. Singapore’s version of Open Banking is really about allowing more innovation and so the results sort of speak for themselves. With everyone from established banks, digital-only banks, hybrids, app providers like Grab, and even the high-end gaming provider Razor getting into the mix with financial product offerings, it is clear that the market is getting fully disrupted!

Mexico City was to follow and there it was almost like a step back, not in terms of our customers who are all switched on to what’s happening, but in terms of Open Banking as the Mexican legislation has not yet really defined a lot of key elements of the ecosystem, APIs, and general “rules of the road”. Interestingly though, it is already very clear where the Mexican focus lies; inclusivity. With one of the lowest customer to population ratios in the world (almost 80% do not have a bank account or access to financial services of any type in Mexico) it is no surprise that the regulations are aimed at making it easier to support this population that is cash-dependent. Again, the real advice was not to wait for the Mexican authority to define everything, but to get started with something and adjust. Mexico is ripe for disruption in the sector and Open Banking looks like a really powerful means to that end for them.

Hopping up to the north, and one of my favourite spots, I went to Calgary, Canada and spoke to the CCUA Open Banking Forum. There was a lot of really powerful information there shared with the Credit Union sector that got me thinking about the power of ecosystems again. Canada is behind even Mexico in terms of legislative guidance for Open Banking, but there is no less concern and interest in what it will mean to Canada and to the Credit Union sector in particular. They serve a unique customer base in the country, at the provincial level and so they are more impacted in terms of a burden than others might be. The power they have though is the level of trust people put into a Credit Union. As a customer myself, I trust my CU and that gives them a lot of ability to combine forces and offer shared services to members that larger banks might not be able to. This ecosystem need is a big theme emerging at all levels of banking, and Open Banking is only going to make the need for it more pressing!

I wound down my world tour with a stop (first time!) in Cairo, Egypt. Here I was able to meet and work with a variety of customers and the interest in what Open Banking means to them is also huge, in spite of there being no clear direction emerging on it yet from Egyptian authorities. If you don’t know, banking in the Islamic world is also bound by a set of rules that are governed in Sharia Law called Mudbara. This set of rules pertains to the way banks must operate to follow the guidance of Muslim teachings, and it is a very important and interesting set of rules in itself (something for another post!). One thing that occurs to me though in these conversations is that Islamic Banking countries have a kind of unique way to support Mudbara with Open banking in that Open banking is about transparency, so what better way to show your adherence to the Mudbara system than with Open Banking? It’s actually a really nice use-case beyond simple data privacy and one that offers a distinct advantage in terms of answering the “why does this matter” types of questions around Open Banking.

The team is hard at work now building out the SCALE developer conference for 2020 in April, but we are also hot on the heels of defining the schedule for 202 field events as well, including some SCALE replay days, more regional lab events, and even some design thinking opportunities for our friends in other regions outside Europe. The 2019 built-on events also gave us some guidance as to what content our community is looking for and we are going to be building more and more around the ideas we got from the events. 2020 promises to be another big year for Open Banking development, and another big year for innovation, and we are going to be working hard to support, educate, and connect with our community around the world with our continuing event schedule!

For anyone interested, here’s a quick “by the numbers” for Q4 events:

  • Continents Visited:  5
  • Flights taken over 4 hours: 8
  • Total Air Miles flown: 53,254
  • Total Flown not in Economy: 3,912
  • Attendees: 250
  • Stickers Distributed: 300

Inflight Movies watched: ALL OF THEM (Seriously – so glad for the December Update I could cry…)