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Swift standardizes bank payments end-to-end
ISO 20022 offers ready-to-use tracking service to enhance, unify corporate experience
The Asset 5 Jun 2024

Global interbank messaging service Swift has set out plans to help financial institutions streamline the cross-border payments experience for their corporate customers by extending its ISO 20022 messaging standard across the entire payment chain and enabling financial institutions to capture rich data at source.

Swift will also help banks offer their customers ready-made and white-labelled payment tracking services by application programming interface (API) or messaging channel, giving complete transparency on a payment’s status as well as confirmation of its receipt.

Currently, Swift says corporate payments are complicated by competing standards and proprietary formats, while multi-banked corporates face a fragmented landscape as they interact with a multitude of banking providers with varying features and services.  

Swift’s plan was developed with a working group of 25 leading cash management banks and 20 sector-leading corporates, including Roche, BNP Paribas, MUFG and Standard Chartered. The goal is to introduce a universal standard that can maximize the benefit of ISO 20022’s richer, more structured data, facilitating automation and reconciliation and drastically reducing integration costs.

The standardization of payment tracking data will enable financial institutions to easily offer the same experience across their corporate customer base, regardless of their own geographical reach or local investment. Currently, when multi-banked corporates receive tracking information, it comes through different channels and in different formats.

Global pharmaceutical company Roche has successfully implemented Swift’s new corporate API channel, with a key banking partner, enabling it to directly access tracking information for the payments it sends and receives.

Swift has been driving the industry towards meeting the G20’s goals for cross-border payments; and 89% of the payments on its network now reach the beneficiary bank within an hour, ahead of the G20’s target of 75% settling in the end account within an hour by 2027.

Many members of Swift’s working group are implementing and piloting the new capabilities, and Swift intends to extend them to its wider community later this year.

“Swift’s new approach undoubtedly offers significant benefits from a corporate client perspective,” notes Stefan Windisch, Roche’s global head of in-house banking. “It enables us to enhance and accelerate our payments analysis, giving us a comprehensive overview at pace.

“Having direct API access to Swift's payment tracking system will provide us with more transparency and strengthen our ability to analyse overall payment performance. It will allow us to refine our instructions, better identify inefficiencies, and minimize erosion of value in cross-border payments.”

Thierry Chilosi, Swift’s chief strategy officer, adds: “Adoption of ISO 20022 provides a unique opportunity to improve cross-border payments. Capturing rich data at source will enhance the entire ecosystem, driving us closer to our goals of instant and frictionless transactions […] while simplifying and standardizing access to services, such as tracking, which are so important to efficient corporate treasury.”

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