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Are We There Yet? SWIFT Corporate Access 2010

by Helen Sanders, Editor

Starting this article has strong overtones of déjà vu for me. Every year, around this time, I write an article outlining the progress that has been made towards the adoption of SWIFTNet for bank connectivity by corporate users. Every year, we talk about how a new initiative, SCORE, Alliance Lite etc. will encourage new users. But nine years on from the launch of the MA-CUG (member-administered closed user group) model for corporate connectivity for SWIFT, and three years since SCORE (standardised corporate environment), it has become clear that while SWIFT connectivity has a valuable role to play, it complements rather than replaces existing connectivity tools. Furthermore, while connectivity is clearly a vital foundation to the bank-to-corporate relationship, it is only one factor in an efficient technology infrastructure and transaction and information flow.

Importance of connectivity

SIBOS, the annual conference organised by SWIFT, which this year takes place in Amsterdam in late October, attracts only a select number of potential or actual corporate users of SWIFT connectivity to the dedicated Corporate Forum. The fact that more corporates do not choose to attend is not, however, a reflection of lack of interest or lack of recognition of the importance of connectivity. Rather, as Neal Livingston, Managing Director and Global Head, Client Access, Standard Chartered Bank explains,

“For a sophisticated corporate, connectivity is not simply about sending information to a bank, but more about the overall process flow, such as auto-reconciliation and achieving real-time visibility of data. Consequently, we are seeing a subtle but important shift from an emphasis on corporate-to-bank connectivity to integration of the corporate financial supply chain.”
Corporate-to-bank connectivity is not a discrete objective, but part of a broader initiative to optimise flows both within and beyond the organisation. One of the outcomes of this is that few corporates engage specifically in connectivity projects, but typically it as one element in a wider project. Neal Livingston, Standard Chartered continues,

Alliance Lite enables smaller, less sophisticated organisations to take advantage of multi-bank connectivity through SWIFT without the need for up-front investment.