Money talks

Second Life, governance and compliance were all on the agenda at the fourth regional FT Summit, as investment in IT grows alongside the banking sector and the wider economy.

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  June 15, 2008

Second Life, governance and compliance were all on the agenda at the fourth regional FT Summit, as investment in IT grows alongside the banking sector and the wider economy.

There aren't many who would look at a virtual universe such as Second Life and see an opportunity to market banking, but that was just one of many ideas brought up at the fourth Financial Technology (FT) Summit held recently in Dubai.

Ashraf Shokry, executive senior manager and head of IT at Khaleeji Commercial Bank, sees Second Life as an excellent way to reach out to prospective clients and particularly to inform them about and market Islamic banking.

A number of companies have set up offices in Second Life as a way to hold meetings without video-conferencing and illustrate their products (Sun Microsystems, Toyota and Vodafone, to name a few) and Shokry's presentation illustrated how the financial industry could have a presence there too.

Shokry's talk was among a number of vendor- and financial institution-led lectures on technology in the Middle East's financial sector over the two-day summit. Along with the presentations, the summit also offers the opportunity for vendors and banking CIOs to network.

"I always think that networking is probably one of the greatest benefits for anyone attending, including the financial services companies as well as the software and IT providers that attend.

And actually, I find the content that is provided in this summit is quite valuable as well," Felix Caprez, director of financial services industry at Oracle EMEA and speaker, remarks.

While the summit ranged from topics such as SOA transformation to document management, there was a clear emphasis on different forms of governance as a trend for banking and finance in the upcoming year.

"We have so many forms of governance, we've talked about corporate, IT and security governance in previous sessions, and yesterday we talked about data governance so I think it's a hot topic," Ahmed Mirza, head of information security at National Commercial Bank, said during his presentation on information security governance.

Caprez agrees that governance, among others, is going to be an important factor for financial institutions this year: "Financial transformation is one of the trends. Another one is going to be around governance, risk and compliance.

"But there are others, especially in the Middle East, we see what are almost wholesale transformations of the entire IT infrastructure are taking place. Being that these banks are growing so rapidly, they're really making a big transformation into the next generation of IT infrastructure," he adds.

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