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Beyond Connectivity

by André Casterman, Head of Corporate and Supply Chain Markets, SWIFT

SWIFT has long had a commitment to supporting corporate treasurers and finance managers in their efforts to improve the security, reliability and efficiency of their financial operations. In the past, providing connectivity services has been the central pillar of this strategy, with a growing number of corporations now communicating with their banking counterparts through SWIFT, whether directly, via a service bureau, or now most commonly through Alliance Lite2, our cloud-based connectivity service. Our strategy has evolved considerably beyond connectivity, however. This article outlines some of the major ways in which we are facilitating the corporate to bank dialogue and promoting transparency, simplicity, security and standardisation.

An integrated corporate strategy

Over the past year, we have combined our corporate connectivity team with our trade services team to deliver more integrated service offerings to benefit the corporate community. One of the primary objectives of the trade services team has been to provide legal and technology standards to enable banks to develop efficient solutions for their corporate customers, including BPO (Bank Payment Obligation), a trade finance solution based on ISO 20022 standards developed in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) that is proving very successful, particularly in Asia. The BPO is an irrevocable undertaking given by one bank to another that payment will be made on a specified date after successful electronic matching of data according to an industry-wide set of enforceable ICC rules. It therefore provides the advantages of letters of credit but in an automated and secure environment, namely the TSU (Trade Services Utility) through SWIFT.

By combining the connectivity and trade services teams, we are reinforcing our ability and commitment both to support corporates directly through our connectivity services, and indirectly by assisting banks to deliver innovative, automated and standardised services for treasury and trade. eBAM (electronic bank account management) is one example of this. By replacing manual processes for opening, closing and maintaining accounts, administration for both banks and corporates is considerably reduced, and by using recognised XML-based standards, eBAM has a high degree of acceptance globally.

An important element of our strategy for corporates is that services should be available to the corporate community irrespective of whether they connect to their banks through SWIFT or another channel. For example, 3SKey, SWIFT’s personal digital signature solution is currently more commonly used by corporates to sign messages through bank proprietary solutions and non-SWIFT channels such as EBICS than through SWIFT.