The Great Leap Forward: community co-operation for corporates in uncertain times
by Elie Lasker, Head of Corporate Market, SWIFT
Our conversations with corporate treasurers in recent months have highlighted three main concerns: firstly, global cash visibility. How much cash do you have and where is it? Secondly, you may be re-examining your approach to risk diversification. Over recent years, many corporates have tried to reduce the number of banking relationships they maintain, but today’s uncertain times may call for diversifying risk across a larger number of banks again. Thirdly, you may be looking to maintain access to credit as individual financial institutions tighten their lending criteria.
Today, more than 400 corporates globally use SWIFT, with more than 900 banks in over 100 countries.
In partnership with banks and application providers, SWIFT connectivity is one way in which corporate treasurers and finance managers can effectively address these concerns, with many companies achieving a significant return on investment. One SWIFT connection gives direct access to a broad number of banks across multiple geographies and allows you to exchange information in a standardised way. You can leverage SWIFT to receive regular statements and intraday updates in a consistent way across all your banks, thereby providing better cash visibility and enabling you to better manage risk. Ensuring appropriate access to credit may require an expansion in the number of banking relationships. Here too, a single standardised gateway performs a valuable function.
Today, more than 400 corporates globally use SWIFT, with more than 900 banks in over 100 countries. Air France, Chevron, eBay, Google, Nokia, LG, Samsung, Siemens, Tesco, UPS and mid-size companies such as Alten, Belcorp and Décathlon are among those adding their names to the list of corporates on SWIFT. These corporates range in size and stretch across multiple industries and regions.
So how did we get here?
While 2007 was an ‘eye opening year’, 2008 was a ‘breakthrough’ year. We focused on broader adoption with easier, lower cost connectivity options. Here’s a look at the facts and figures:
Increase in traffic
In particular, transmission of bank statements has significantly grown – an indication of how useful this information can be in the present environment. More corporates are using FileAct and traffic has increased substantially since the release of a new pricing scheme in 2008. Traffic growth comes from both new users joining as well as existing users further leveraging their SWIFT connection.
Alliance Lite was launched at Sibos in 2008 as a convenient and low-cost connectivity option and corporates are amongst those now seeing the benefits. Alliance Lite complements the existing service bureau and member concentrator offerings for smaller companies or those with less complex connectivity requirements.
We added more value and the offering to corporates has evolved. Beyond standard cash and treasury management services, new bank services are now available: exceptions and investigations, secure mail and trade messaging.
Broader community support
Banks are increasingly active in promoting SWIFT for corporates – Barclays, BNP Paribas, HSBC and Unicredit published their experience in the form of case studies and a host of other banks organised roadshows. More than 900 banks, in 100 countries, now exchange traffic with corporates on SWIFT. Likewise partners continue to extend their SWIFTReady applications and are active in case studies, media interviews, webinars and conferences.
Over 630 participants attended the 2nd Sibos Corporate Forum in Vienna. UniverSWIFTNet Paris was likewise a formidable success and we were pleased to participate in a number of other key industry conferences around the world including AFTE, ACT, AFP and EuroFinance. In addition, our new online dialogue platform, swiftcommunity.net for corporates, now has over 1,000 members sharing ideas.