Launch of SWIFT Alliance Lite
An Interview with Elie Lasker, Solution Manager, Corporate Access Programme, SWIFT
SWIFT for Corporates has already proved a secure, convenient means for larger corporations to communicate with their banking partners. However, there are many smaller organisations which see the potential benefit of a single, bank-independent channel for accessing banking services but which cannot justify the investment in a SWIFT connection. While service bureaus and member/concentrators are now the most common means for new corporates to access SWIFT, which makes connectivity more straightforward, companies with very low volumes have still struggled to demonstrate a cost benefit for connecting to SWIFT. At Sibos in 2007, SWIFT CEO Lázaro Campos promised a new, more convenient method for potential users to access the SWIFT network. A year on, following trials with 15 pilot customers, Alliance Lite was formally launched this year at Sibos.
Alliance Lite is designed for low volume customers, including corporates and small financial institutions, enabling them to connect to SWIFT easily, securely and at low cost. Before its introduction, connecting to SWIFT could often be a time-consuming and costly venture. In contrast, Alliance Lite can be delivered in days and installed in minutes, radically simplifying the process.
Users of Alliance Lite require a standard Internet connection which is secured with a SWIFT-issued hardware security token (a USB stick). There is a user-friendly interface which supports both manual data entry (e.g. inputting payments) through a browser or integration with a company’s treasury management system (TMS) or ERP. The solution is designed for customers sending and receiving up to 200 messages/files a day and supports an expanding range of message types, including payments, advices to receive, bank statements and treasury confirmations.
To answer your questions about Alliance Lite, we were delighted to talk to Elie Lasker, Solution Manager for SWIFT’s Corporates’ offering, at Sibos.
How can corporates integrate their internal systems with Alliance Lite?
Alliance Lite is provided with Autoclient software which allows files to be transferred from back office systems such as a TMS or ERP. The Autoclient uses a scheduler to import files periodically from these systems.
What functionality does Alliance Lite provide?
Alliance Lite is a channel to allow corporates and smaller financial institutions to exchange financial messages with their banking partners. It is not a fully fledged electronic banking solution and does not include the wealth of functionality that a treasurer would expect from such a system. While it provides basic capabilities such as account balance monitoring, administration and payments, both FIN (i.e. messaging service used for –typically – high value and urgent payments or account balances) and FileAct (i.e. file transfer service, used for bulk or ACH payments) , we anticipate that corporates will integrate Alliance Lite with their TMS or ERP from where all payments and other business functions will be initiated.
What companies are eligible to connect to SWIFT through Alliance Lite and what are the costs?
Any company is eligible to connect through Alliance Lite so long as fewer than 200 items a day are exchanged with its banks. For this purpose, a single FIN message and one chunk of 100kb exchanged through FileAct are each considered one item. The all-in cost is €850 per month. This does not include other internal systems costs (e.g. TMS maintenance) and bank charges. There is also a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing scheme of €200 per month and €1 per item exchanged.
Alliance Lite is a channel to allow corporates and smaller financial institutions to exchange financial messages with their banking partners.
Corporates who wish to use Alliance Lite need to sign up to SWIFT via the SCORE or MA-CUG model, and the necessary documentation needs to be completed with the banks. To ease the on-boarding of these corporates, SWIFT manages the subscription process to MA-CUGs or SCORE on their behalf.
How will Alliance Lite be made available to corporates?
If you want to find out more about connecting through Alliance Lite, contact your bank relationship manager or SWIFT team at your bank. We are delighted that so many banks have shown their support for Alliance Lite. SWIFT is also pleased to provide further information (www.swift.com/alliancelite).
How do you see Alliance Lite developing in the future?
Alliance Lite has the potential to revolutionise bank connectivity for mid-sized corporates over the coming years. Its impact is likely to be most immediate in countries such as France as companies replace their ETEBAC connectivity. In terms of future developments, we will also enrich Alliance Lite with additional messaging capabilities and functionality to cater for the needs of other customer segments such as investment managers or broker dealers.