The Next Milestone:
by Elie Lasker, Head of Corporate Market, SWIFT
At this year’s Corporate Forum at Sibos, we celebrate ’Corporate 1,000’, recognising that 1,000 corporates now connect to their banks via SWIFTNet. This is a particularly important milestone for me personally as it marks the next step in the journey towards SWIFTNet becoming a collaborative network for the whole spectrum of financial participants.
Over the next two to three years, we expect to see this number grow rapidly, with accelerating corporate adoption motivated by a range of initiatives from both SWIFT and participating banks. By the middle of 2012, there were 1,600 bank end points to which corporates could connect through SWIFTNet (out of a total of 9,000), a number that is growing by around 4% each quarter. This is a strong indication that banks are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about corporate connectivity to SWIFT. Some banks have proved particularly supportive, and five banks now have more than 200 of their corporate customers connected. While the majority of these corporates connect to between 3-10 banks, a significant number connect to 11-20 banks and some to more than 50 banks.
While most early corporate adopters of SWIFTNet were large multinational corporations, its potential is not restricted to these companies. Indeed, the ability to exchange a growing range of financial messages through a single, bank-neutral channel with multiple banking partners in a highly secure and standardised way is an objective for organisations of all sizes. Consequently, one of our priorities is to make it as easy as possible for corporates to connect through SWIFTNet to achieve their communication objectives. We are doing this in a variety of ways through initiatives in i) Standardisation, ii) Ease of Use and iii) New Solutions.
Common Global Implementation (CGI). We are proactively supporting the CGI initiative which aims to define, promote and simplify the use of ISO 20022 financial messaging standards for corporate users globally. By standardising the format of information that is exchanged, as well as the channel itself, corporate treasurers and finance managers can simplify their technology platforms and integration requirements, on-board new banking partners more quickly and streamline financial processes globally. The CGI recently published its global implementation guidelines, documenting ’best practices’ for corporate-to-bank communication based on ISO20022 messages. CGI and SWIFT have launched a new website where all these implementation documents can be downloaded: www.swift.com/corporates/cgi/resource_centre.
MyStandards. As a complementary initiative to CGI, MyStandards is a new, collaborative web-based platform designed to help manage the development and adoption of standards in the financial industry. It provides a central repository of format and usage guidelines so that users can search for content in a structured way and access information easily. For corporates, this means they will be able to obtain the implementation documentation from their banking partners in a standard and consistent way.
ii) Ease of Use
Alliance Lite2. The predecessor to this solution, Alliance Lite, has been available for the past three years, but this new version offers a wealth of enhancements in terms of functionality, transaction volume and integration capabilities. We believe that this new version will fuel a significant acceleration in corporate adoption of SWIFT. Alliance Lite2 is a robust, cloud-based solution that offers corporates of all sizes, particularly mid-cap corporates and non-bank financial institutions, a convenient, cost-effective means of connecting to their banking partners. Many organisations, particularly those without substantial IT resources within their treasury or finance functions, or that have modest transaction volumes, have found it difficult to justify migrating to SWIFT in the past. Therefore, the implementation and pricing model for Alliance Lite2 is already proving extremely attractive to a wide spectrum of companies.
Bank readiness certification programme. Secure, efficient bank communication is an essential requirement for all organisations. They need to be assured that the banking partners supporting their implementation and on-going use of SWIFT have the competence and experience to do so. SWIFT’s bank readiness certification programme is proving a competitive advantage for accredited banks, and a valuable means for corporates to determine the functionality and capabilities offered by potential banking partners.