SWIFTNet meets the challenges of Sibos

There have been many challenges laid at the door of SWIFT this week. The answer to many of these is SWIFTNet, says Leonard Schrank.

Throughout the week, many of the delegates to the Sibos conference have called on the industry as well as SWIFT itself to undertake far reaching reforms, if the renewed push for growth is going to be achieved. At the plenary session held yesterday, SWIFT's CEO, Leonard Schrank, said that the migration to SWIFTNet would address many of the concerns.

"Tremendous challenges have been issued here at Sibos, in both the banking and securities sides of the business," he said. "The platform for solving these problems is SWIFT and SWIFTNet. What other global market utility exists [to solve them]?"

He added: "SWIFT has completely rebuilt its network and now the benefits can really begin and the challenges can really be met."

Over the past year, SWIFT has carried out an extensive customer survey to find out what its members thought of its services; what was good and what difficulties remained. SWIFT's head of the banking industry division Lazaro Campos acknowledged that respondents to the survey felt SWIFT could do better in its billing and provisioning, as well as product maintenance and delivery. He also tried to address some specific concerns that users had about the migration to SWIFTNet.

Many users had expressed fears of concentration risk, of putting too much of their business through SWIFT - although Campos felt that they were not putting quite enough through already. But even so, he said, SWIFT had created multiple networks, operational resilience, a great track record and strong oversight to mitigate much of the concentration risk.

Other members felt that different business lines within their organizations used SWIFT differently, without generating enough synergies. Campos said that extensive dialogue was going on to find the common ground.

Campos defended the inevitable charges of over pricing, by asking members to compare it with other systems or the cost of replicating the network themselves. Finally he pointed out that SWIFTNet was extremely adaptable which would meet its members' future business needs, allaying their concerns that the product was incomplete.

Many of these future needs were being addressed by the SWIFT Business Solutions programme, which uses SWIFT standards, XML systems and agreed rules through SWIFTNet to meet many members' needs. This year already, SWIFT solutions have been rolled out for real-time nostro reporting, bulk payments, MA-CUGS, SWIFTNet Accords, CLS third party services, FIX, market data and funds automation.

Upcoming solutions will address exceptions and investigations in payments, trade services utilities, affirmations in treasury and funds and securities reporting. 1,000 users are using SWIFT solutions already and 1,700 will have signed up by the end of 2005

Underpinning this rollout of solutions is SWIFT's dedication to working with its members to develop new services on the SWIFTNet platform using IP and XML schemas. According to Joe Eng, SWIFT's CIO, big strides are being made in allowing the automated interpretation and coding of messages through SWIFTNet. This will allow members to use the services for existing ends, but also to bolt on their own services and those of their technology partners for their own business benefits.

SWIFTNet's aim is also to make itself interoperable with existing web-based services through data exchange protocols. Eng also showed how the security of SWIFTNet was being beefed up through the adoption of PKI security systems as well as an increased focus on resilience and physical security. Eng said that the speed of the migration to SWIFTNet shows "that when the community comes together with a clear objective in mind, the community gets a lot done".