Open banking: it’s been called everything from “the future of banking” to a “wake-up call for the banking industry”. In short, with open banking, financial institutions expose APIs (application programming interfaces) to third-party providers, allowing them to initiate payments and directly access banks’ customer and business accounts.

New legislation means we’re only a few short months away from it becoming a reality for Europe’s financial institutions. Further afield, in the US, Nacha, the electronic payments association, this year set up an industry group dedicated to standardising the use of APIs in the US financial services industry.

Banks, alternative financiers, developers and fintech companies the world over are tuning in to this initiative that, by forcing banks to be more open than ever before with their customer data, will make “innovation blossom”, says the writer of this issue’s cover story.

What’s more, it’s yet another opportunity for banks to develop partnerships with fintech companies, thereby equipping themselves with new and pioneering technologies.

Our cover feature – and the majority of this publication – is dedicated to what we think will be the popular talking points at the annual Sibos conference, taking place in Toronto in October.

This year our coverage spans from financial inclusion in a report which tackles the effects of Africa’s “lost” correspondents on the local market, to cybersecurity, where we explore the lessons that can be learnt from the cyberattack that blindsided shipping giant Maersk.

In other features we also investigate Asia’s latest case of document fraud, Canada’s massive infrastructure drive and whether or not big data can be used as a tool to enable financing for agribusiness.

Also worth pointing out to the Sibos – and wider trade finance – audience is our regular fintech section, where we report on and analyse innovation in this exciting space – one that has proven itself to be the most popular to our readers, according to our closely-tracked website stats.

As this publication goes to press, the Asian Development Bank has just published the result of its annual survey, which tells us that the global trade finance gap has fallen from US$1.6tn to US$1.5tn. What’s interesting is that, according to the findings, the impact of fintech on these results has been minimal – despite all the hype.

Only 20% of firms reported having used digital finance platforms, with 23% saying that peer-to-peer lending is their most-used fintech model.

While new innovations come to the fore – and quickly – the survey finds that the trade finance industry continues to be plagued by the same problems, such as funding gaps in emerging markets and ever-rising rejection rates for small businesses.

And so, as fascinating as we find it to follow and report on new fintech developments, we hope that in the not-too-distant future their potential will be realised and we will be able to bring you actual use cases where this innovation has been applied – in a widespread way – to service the unbanked areas.

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