Sending payments across borders requires high levels of collaboration, communication, and trust. And that experience should be as straightforward, simple, and secure as possible. By transforming the SWIFT platform to centrally orchestrate transactions end to end, we are taking the next step towards enabling instant, frictionless cross-border, account-to-account payments.
Here, Stephen Lindsay, Platform Evolution – Business Lead at SWIFT outlines how SWIFT’s new platform will facilitate the payments experience and the benefits to the SWIFT community.
“SWIFT’s new strategy builds on our foundation as an industry co-operative with unrivalled security standards to innovate rapidly at scale with the right levels of risk and control,” said Lindsay. In order to deliver on the SWIFT strategy, a new open, state-of-the-art platform will use the latest technologies to provide better quality services to end customers as SWIFT moves beyond messaging and towards transaction management. This platform is being driven by three key pillars:
Talking about SWIFT’s journey towards transaction management, Lindsay said this is an evolution “from point-to-point messaging to full end-to-end orchestration” noting that more recently, gpi has allowed the business to gain a better understanding of the business transaction process as a whole, and the key role of data.
Having rich data at the centre of the platform allows SWIFT to build powerful capabilities into the platform such as common processes like pre-validation, fraud detection and data analytics. “To ensure that we have richer data, we will continue to facilitate the adoption of ISO 20022 for cross-border payments,” he added, noting that SWIFT’s platform is offering interoperability between early adopters of the new standard and those who have yet to make the switch.
“Everyone needs to adopt ISO 20022 for cross-border payments by November 2025, but the platform ensures that each bank can adopt it at its own pace before that date and remain interoperable with everybody else,” he added. “We will build our internal data structures based on ISO 20022, and will allow all participants to share ISO 20022 data. We’ll provide analytics and other services based on that data, mutualised for everybody to take advantage of.”
Lindsay noted that SMEs represent the fastest growing segment for cross border payments and explained that the platform will provide features to enable financial institutions to cater for evolving customer needs in these markets.
“To reduce friction in payments processing, we need to make sure that we have complete and correct data at the start of the transaction,” said Lindsay. He noted that the introduction of a pre-validation service would be a key component of supporting frictionless payments – by ensuring that all necessary data is correctly provided upfront, for the fastest possible processing of the payment.
“We will also start on the journey towards frictionless payments, with built-in services such as pre-validation out-of-the-box, plus case management for transactions that do go wrong, and the existing gpi stop and recall service.” Lindsay explained that SWIFT will also support business solutions including gpi customer and financial institution transfers, tighter SLAs for low value payments and integration tools and community standards to enable easy interoperability and implementation for customers.
In terms of smarter securities, Lindsay noted that new capabilities for securities players will be available through the platform, including upfront validation of standard settlement instructions and screening of ISIN codes. “We are exploring gpi-like features for securities, to enable customers to get a consolidated view of their transactions and their assets across the platform,” he said, adding that standardised APIs are also in development to facilitate interoperability between securities players.
“On trade, we will drive enhancements and digitisation based on current product sets; we’ll also link with emerging trade platforms and service providers to provide new propositions for customers,” he said. He added that SWIFT will continue to promote gpi to foreign exchange players and explore monitoring and tracking to link a trade confirmation to its payment. “We will seek synergies with infrastructures around translation, data and liquidity.”
“The system maintains the transaction copy – a complete record of the business transaction data and state, which is shared by all the participants in the transaction, simultaneously.” He added that participants can use whatever format or protocol they choose – and the system ensures the integrity of the data is maintained from end-to-end. “Even if one participant is using a less rich format, nothing is overwritten or truncated,” he said.
Talking about how transaction management will be delivered, Lindsay explained that the first release will go live in November 2022, starting the journey toward instant and frictionless payments. “The initial release will include all the functionalities required to enable the migration to ISO 20022,” he added, including transaction orchestration and tracking, transaction enrichment and multi-channel support.
“After the first release is live, we expect to release a number of new features in consultation with the community in terms of prioritisation, aimed at fulfilling more of the objectives of the strategy,” he concluded.