SWIFTNet: A Channel for Change
by Marie-Laurence Faure, Head of E-Channels, BNP Paribas
Stéphane de la Fouchardiere, Head of SWIFT Business Development, BNP Paribas
With Sibos this year attracting a record number of corporates, and an increasingly broad spectrum of corporates sharing their experiences, SWIFTNet is becoming the talking point across the corporate treasury community. But why is the story of SWIFTNet so compelling and what likely developments will we see?
BNP Paribas was one of the first banks to enable connectivity to its corporate customers via SWIFTNet and has continued to expand its expertise and client base.
To summarise the SWIFT proposition, corporates are able to connect with their banking partners through the same network (SWIFTNet) that banks have historically used to exchange financial messages with other banks. SWIFTNet is universally accepted as the most secure and reliable network for financial messaging in the world. With over 8,300 participants globally exchanging a wide range of messages, it is highly versatile and presents substantial opportunities for corporates to connect to their banking partners of choice anywhere in the world. There is an increasing range of services available through SWIFTNet, from securities processing through to cash management, FX and trade.
BNP Paribas was one of the first banks to enable connectivity to its corporate customers via SWIFTNet and has continued to expand its expertise and client base. In 2008, SWIFT ranked BNP Paribas as the leading bank globally for FileAct, the SWIFT delivery mechanism for high volume payments. Initially, very large multinational corporations were attracted to SWIFT, seeing an immediate advantage in replacing the multitude of banking systems used to connect with their banking partners worldwide with a single communications channel for exchanging a variety of messages. In the early days, when SWIFT first opened its doors to corporates, the resource and expertise required to implement a SWIFTNet connection was quite substantial. Today, the opportunities are more varied and SWIFTNet is now a far more realistic and cost-effective option for mid-market corporates with international requirements as well as the largest companies.
Our corporate clients often ask us whether connecting to their banks through SWIFTNet would bring advantages to them. Our advice to corporates considering this route is to think not of the connection itself but the capabilities which they are able to access from their bank through this channel. After all, SWIFTNet is simply a ‘pipe’ through which messages are exchanged and the value is in the information which is exchanged rather than the channel. Consequently, SWIFTNet connectivity should be considered in the context of opportunity and innovation, providing possibilities in transaction management, cash management and trade services. But what does this mean in practice?
Opportunities through SWIFTNet
SWIFTNet enables corporates to exchange a variety of different messages across the same network, replacing the multiple systems and communication channels which currently exist with different banks. These include high value urgent payments, mass non-urgent payments, bank statements, confirmations, FX transactions, securities processing and increasingly trade finance. This also allows a coherent approach to security and user administration and reduces the need to maintain multiple systems. Any format of information can be exchanged through SWIFTNet, including the new XML-based formats, such as ISO 20022 for payments. This means that corporates can take advantage of a common platform for communication without having to change the way that files are produced or received.