A Message from the Chair – August 2020

On August 20, BAFT’s Board Chair, Mark Garfield, published his monthly communication to the wider BAFT membership.

I fondly remember my first trip to Europe as a teenager in the 1970’s. My wallet was full of bulky traveler’s checks, and my siblings and I would stand in long bank lines to exchange the traveler’s checks for local currency. We paid for everything in banknotes, as cards were not accepted. Upon arriving in a different country, we joined yet another line at another unfamiliar bank to exchange our currency again. It was fun to handle foreign notes with their colors and history. We tried to impress each other on being the quickest and most accurate in calculating each exchange.

Those days are long gone. My children never use checks, have likely never heard of traveler’s checks, and certainly have never heard of Pesetas! They give no advance thought to payments and conversion when traveling. Their daily financial transactions are mostly digital. When they see me writing a check, they think I live in the “old world” of financial transactions. I remind them that one thing from this “old world” remains the same: the role of the bank is most important in payments processing and continues to be the key mechanism in making secure and efficient payments and currency exchanges globally.

BAFT, as the leading international transaction banking association, has recognized the need to place greater emphasis on payments. In 2020, the BAFT Board of Directors approved the payments strategy developed by BAFT’s Senior Vice President of Payments and Innovation, Samantha Pelosi, and established the Global Payments Industry Council (GPIC) as the cornerstone of that strategy. The GPIC was stood up in July 2020 with around 20 members comprised of senior management in global payments from BAFT member organizations. GPIC geographic representation includes Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, MENA, and North America. Congratulations and appreciation to David Kretz, Head of GTS Global Strategy and Payments at Bank of America, who was elected GPIC Chair and Jean-François Mazure, Head of Cash Clearing Services at Societe Generale, who was elected GPIC Vice-Chair.

GPIC’s primary purpose is to set BAFT’s strategic agenda regarding global payments, to raise and vet issues, initiatives, and challenges, and to ensure proper alignment of BAFT’s payments committees and working groups. GPIC’s formation is a wonderful addition to the BAFT organization. I look forward to what it will accomplish.

What will payments look like tomorrow? Certainly not “old world,” not likely “current world,” maybe a “whole new world,” or even “out-of-this-world” … and getting there will be fun.

Mark Garfield
BAFT Chair
Head of Global Financial Institutions
Zions Bancorporation