Innotribe and the future of FinTech innovation

Since its successful debut at Sibos Hong Kong in 2009, SWIFT’s Innotribe programme has evolved from an experimental Sibos feature to a pioneering innovation initiative that features a series of global events across the year, including the highly anticipated Innotribe Startup Challenge.

Against the challenging backdrop of the post-financial crisis world, co-founder Peter Vander Auwera has been a key contributor to the evolution of Innotribe. Peter is also the architect and content creator of Innotribe@Sibos – shaping everything from the speaker agenda and panel topics to the facilitation, lighting and music that set the tone for the event.

As Innotribe was running with the Startup Challenge regional showcases, visiting London, Cape Town, Singapore and New York, we took a moment to speak with Peter to discuss the key themes of Innotribe@Sibos and what conference delegates can expect from this impactful event.


What makes Innotribe@Sibos unique? How do you see it evolving?

Peter: Firstly, it’s important to say that Innotribe@Sibos is a carefully curated forum that houses the Startup Challenge Finale, but also tackles the industry’s burning issues, like the future of money and payments disruption. We seek to create quality and interactive conversations to facilitate immersion and effective learning.

Five years ago, no one was even talking about FinTech. We have worked hard to create a reputation and demonstrate that there is something truly valuable going on. People want to be a part of it – we have ‘supporters’ who come to Sibos exclusively for the Innotribe sessions. Last year, we even had would-be delegates following the live stream of our sessions. They couldn’t join us in person but they certainly weren’t going to miss the action!

What is really exciting this year is that Innotribe is quite literally mirroring FinTech’s shift into the mainstream. The appetite to know more is massive and our prominent position reflects this interest.


This year, Innotribe is giving particular focus to millennials and women. How are these groups affecting change in the FinTech space?

Peter: Millennials are constantly thinking about the future of FinTech and challenging the status quo. They have grown up with innovation and technology having a profound impact on their everyday lives. Therefore, they will participate in every session at Innotribe@Sibos, so that we can leverage that intergenerational diversity of experience. They are a sharp bunch and we want to showcase what this group sees as innovation - and who they think will disrupt the industry.

We will also have women leaders in FinTech involved throughout the programme, but to be clear, we’re not selecting them just because they are women. We are inviting them to be a part of Innotribe@Sibos because of their expertise and what they bring to the table. We are engaging with those who embody collaboration and are impacting financial services in new ways.

It goes without saying that the "future of banking" will be a big topic.

Peter: Yes, of course. The broader story is that bank culture needs to adapt. We need another generation of banks that want to give back to society or banks that act more like movements, working closely with customers and suppliers to create an improved experience. We will also explore the more contrarian viewpoints.


Can you preview any other areas of focus for Innotribe?

Peter: We like to focus on what’s cooking at the edges of our ecosystem and take a look into the horizon at the longer-term.

We always address financial inclusion, and this year we will specifically investigate financial inclusion in the Asia-Pacific region, in places like Bangladesh. Continuing the APAC theme, we will be exploring China as a platform for payment disruption. We’re also planning to bring in Asian artists and live music to help build an immersive environment.

We will also look at what happens when you take crowd intelligence, artificial intelligence and data intelligence together. What if you can listen to the signals in real time from different stakeholders, and then take that crowd-sourced data and unleash a cognitive engine? It is this blend of people, ideas and influence that we will be exploring at Innotribe@Sibos.


You were recently named as a top 20 influencer by JAX Finance, and also named in FinServ’s top 25 Most Influential Voices in Banking. How does that feel?

Peter: Of course I’m honoured to be on those lists. I don’t want to take personal credit as the work is from the whole Innotribe team. Yet I think this speaks to the impact and reach of social media, where I try to be quite active. Social media is a way to connect people with ideas. It gives you a license to engage with others and provide them with a platform. It’s not about me, it’s about the work that the team is doing and how it resonates with people.

I think that in this era of FinTech it is important to preserve a level of humanity. We must weave this into our conversations so that things don’t become too technical - too removed from reality.