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SWIFT Comes of Age: changing corporate experiences

by Jonathan Ashton, Head of Channel Management & Integration Services, Global Transaction Banking, Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank has been one of the pioneers of SWIFT connectivity for corporates and has successfully worked with a wide range of corporate treasuries, payment factories and shared service centres to communicate financial information through SWIFT. In this article, we look at where SWIFT for corporates is today, and how this could evolve in the future.

The first corporates connecting to SWIFT, which were frequently amongst the largest, most diverse and complex organisations in the world, inevitably experienced some challenges, as connectivity to the network formerly reserved for the banking community was a new phenomenon not only for the corporates themselves, but also for their banking partners. Fundamentally, for both new and well-established corporate users alike, SWIFT is delivering on, and exceeding corporates’ expectations, and enabling them to standardise their bank communications infrastructure and achieve a higher degree of straight-through processing.

Furthermore, with far greater experience across the market both of the implementation process, and how to leverage the opportunities that SWIFT presents, corporates embarking on a SWIFT implementation today can expect a much easier experience than the early pioneers. There are various reasons for this. Firstly, the major banks in particular have become far better equipped to support their corporate clients through the SWIFT implementation process. Secondly, with the maturity of service bureaus and member/concentrators, the process of connecting to SWIFT is becoming increasingly structured and convenient. Thirdly, as the needs of corporate users become better defined, the range of services is increasing, such as the evolution of electronic bank account management (EBAM) leading to a richer experience.

Inevitably, a business-critical project requires detailed planning and substantial effort in testing, but a factor which characterises corporate SWIFT projects today is the high level of satisfaction in the final solution. Like the banks and financial institutions that have communicated using SWIFT for many years, corporates are now finding that SWIFT becomes a reliable and discreet element in their overall systems environment on which they have to focus very little, enabling treasury and finance professionals to concentrate on the needs of the business rather than the technical infrastructure that underpins it.