Barclays digital conference - man shaking hands with robot

Barclays Digital Conference: Evolution to revolution

10 November 2016

The third annual Barclays conference devoted to developments in digital saw more than 300 people gather in London to hear industry leaders speak on a range of topics from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to cybersecurity.

Barclays digital conference guest speakers

With a programme covering some of the hottest topics of the tech revolution, the Barclays Digital Conference 2016 attracted a host of big-name speakers from the worlds of business, innovation and investment, as well as key figures from across the banking group.

As more than 300 delegates gathered in London for the event, Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays UK, told the audience: “The distinctions between customers, vendors and suppliers are blurring.” He added: “That’s why conferences like these are important, where we can say, ‘This is what we’ve learnt, this is what you’ve learnt and this is where we are now’.”

Introducing Jes Staley, Barclays Group Chief Executive, on to the main stage, Vaswani said that: “Jes has put digital at the forefront of what this bank is going to be famous for.”

To emphasise the importance of technology within Barclays today, and how that applies to the wider economy, Staley told delegates: “Roughly 30% of the UK’s GDP goes through our payment systems every day. If that system doesn’t work tomorrow, we have a massive problem in this country. Having the right technology in place is a critical obligation for Barclays to the United Kingdom.”

Every business is a technology business

Staley remained on stage to interview Matt Brittin, Google’s President of EMEA Business & Operations, in an informal session billed as a ‘fireside chat’.

Looking forward to a doubling of people with free or near-free access to digital connections, Brittin told Staley: “Every business is a technology business, because every customer has a digital device in their pocket.”

Richard Fisher, former President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President of AT&T Technology and Operations, were next on stage, with Donovan saying: “Every revolution is just an evolution that hits a tipping point.”

In the exhibition space outside the conference rooms, a wide range of stalls showcased Barclays’ technological developments – from the Rise FinTech start-up community to Barclays Eagle Labs.
Breakout sessions offered a choice of topics for discussion: the internet of things; smart contracts; talent implications; cyber security; AI; and digital psychology. Contributors included Matt Hancock MP, the Minister of State responsible for digital policy within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and senior figures from Amazon, Uber, LinkedIn, IBM and Verizon, as well as consultants, regulators, entrepreneurs and Barclays experts.

Last week’s event was the third Barclays Digital Conference – and the biggest so far. Kevin Wall, Chairman of UK Corporate Banking, said: “The number of people signing up has grown every year, and the line-up of speakers is of an extremely high quality.”