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Would you accept a payment in Bitcoins?

Geneva: panel debate on digitization in the banking industry

Conference hosted by the Geneva Finance Research Institute and Synpulse

«Digitalization in Banking – Separating Reality from Hype» - that was the title of a presentation event of the Geneva Finance Research Institute and Synpulse Management Consulting that took place at the University of Geneva a couple of days ago.

«Banks need to meet the challenges of a rapidly and ever changing environment. They need to make the right strategic decisions, ignoring a rather short run hype», explained Raphael Bianchi. The Partner and Head of Digital Banking at Synpulse Management Consulting, started the evening with an abstract of current digitalization trends in the Banking sector, from the perspective of a consultant. He particularly emphasized how customer demands are constantly changing and in how far the Banking industry has already adjusted to these needs.

The invited guests from the Banking and FinTech sector showed a keen interest in the subsequent lecture given by Olivier Collombin. He provided insights into two of his many successful projects: E-merging, a social network for independent asset managers and, a web-based platform, enabling the internaut to request a quote for a professional asset management from the members of the E-merging community within minutes. Olivier Collombin, former banking manager at Credit Suisse and capital partner at Lombard Odier described his experiences while working for Lombard Odier and why he decided to become self-employed. He stressed the importance of being independent from banks for the design of the E-merging and platforms.

«Are we going to live without cash soon?» asked Dr. Michel Girardin from the Geneva Finance Research Institute at the beginning of the following panel discussion. The three panelists Olivier Collombin, Alexandre Gaillard, founder of Investglass, and André Höhn, Digital Banking expert at Synpulse Management Consulting, held different views regarding an answer to that question. Those who negated the extinction of cash, were of the opinion that a means of payment should always be tangible. Most of the payments were already done virtually, was the objection to this position. And yet it is going to take another couple of years until cash has totally vanished, as all of the panelists acknowledged.

A lively debate developed, consistently being steered in new directions by the moderator’s provocative questions. «We are, all of us, already customers of Marc Zuckerberg’s bank», exclaimed Alexandre Gaillard, when it came to traditional banks having to face further competition from the IT field. However, the question «Would you accept a payment in bitcoins?» had the audience as involved and as ambivalent as the panel. Whereas Gaillard predicted a decline of the Cryptocurrency in the near future, an experienced investor, from among the audience guests, enthusiastically described the future of Bitcoins.

The discussion continued until late in the evening, during the following get-together. Experiences were exchanged and concepts discussed. Later the conference even took a philosophical turn, when the question arose if one should laugh at a bot’s joke (bot= a software application imitating human communication).

It is unknown yet, if some of the speakers will already be paid in bitcoins at the next conference. But it is rather certain that Synpulse Management Consulting will hold another event within the Geneva area soon. The organizers, Daniele Abbruzzese, Manager Banking at Synpulse and Michael Steinhauser, administrator at the GFRI are very satisfied with the conference and can well imagine a continuation of their mutual activities.

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