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Selecting the Best SWIFT Service Bureau It can be a challenge for treasurers new to SWIFT to make the right choice when selecting a SWIFT service bureau. Marcus Hughes offers advice.

Selecting the Best SWIFT Service Bureau

by Marcus Hughes, Director Business Development, Bottomline Technologies

It can be challenging for treasurers new to SWIFT to make the right choice when selecting a SWIFT service bureau, especially as there are over 125 such bureaus globally used by over 3,500 SWIFT members, i.e., more than one-third of SWIFT’s total membership.

Caveat emptor

With so many bureaus to choose from, treasurers need to be very careful. The following checklist helps narrow down the options:

  • Is the provider transparent with its operations? It is essential to know who and what you are dealing with: those large providers who make public filings make more attractive partners than smaller privately owned bureaus.
  • Is the provider a strategic player in this business?
  • Is running a bureau one of its core competences?
  • Has the provider got scale and international reach?
  • Are value added services offered?
  • Does the provider have key banking relationships?
  • Does the provider have the top level bureau certification from SWIFT?

Combination of SWIFT and payments expertise

SWIFT’s top bureau certification, ‘SWIFT Ready Connectivity Best Practice’, has been awarded to only one SWIFT service bureau in the UK, Bottomline, and only 14 others around the world.

It is prudent to select a SWIFT service bureau which is part of a larger payments and cash management solution provider, since such a provider is ideally placed to deliver greater value and meet a wider range of treasurers’ needs in terms of payments and cash management, now and in the future. Similarly, it is important to select a bureau with the scale and financial stability to guarantee not just service continuity now but also that the provider itself will be around in the long term and will continue delivering value and innovation to its clients.

The benefits of selecting a SWIFT bureau with integrated payments and cash management are compelling for any treasurer:

  • Visibility over global bank accounts
  • Optimised cash and liquidity management
  • Cost savings
  • Improved security and resilience
  • Comprehensive compliance
  • Reduced operational risk
  • Improvements in straight-through processing (STP) and systems integration

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