A Milestone in SWIFT Corporate Connectivity
By Hendrik De Spiegeleer, Senior Product Manager SWIFT, ING Group
ING has had a long and proactive commitment to supporting clients that choose to use SWIFT for bank connectivity. In 2017, the bank reached an important milestone, with almost one in four of all SWIFT corporate clients worldwide now connected to ING. In this interview, Hendrik De Spiegeleer discusses how the bank has achieved this milestone, and its plans for the future.
What factors would you say have contributed to clients’ successful implementation of SWIFT with ING?
When we started as an early pioneer in promoting SWIFT for corporates twelve years ago, there was only a relatively narrow spectrum of customers for whom it was relevant, notably large, multinational, multi-banked corporations. Implementations were quite lengthy and complex, and the integration burden was often high. Today, SWIFT’s appeal and value proposition extends to a far broader range of corporations, particularly as they can take advantage of ING’s centralised, streamlined approach to onboarding and integration, and a choice of implementation options to meet each customer’s specific functional requirements. In the past, sales teams may have found it difficult to talk to customers about SWIFT; today, SWIFT is an integral element of our channels strategy and a crucial choice for many of our clients, particularly those that work with multiple banks.
You mention that a broader range of clients are now attracted to, and derive value from, implementing SWIFT. How has the client profile changed?
Early adopters of SWIFT for corporates were large, global, multi-banked corporations that typically had the most complex and sophisticated connectivity needs, but these customers typically also had access to more substantial IT resources than their smaller peers to support the initial implementation and ongoing maintenance. Today, not only are we seeing corporations of all sizes adopting SWIFT, but as a variety of implementation options now exists, combined with a quick and straightforward approach to onboarding through ING, there is no longer the need to dedicate significant IT support or to develop specialist expertise.
Few, if any, clients now choose to install the SWIFT gateway on their premises, with the majority preferring instead to outsource SWIFT connectivity to a service bureau. This includes the 50-60% of clients that connect through SWIFT’s cloud solution Alliance Lite2, reflecting a wider movement towards cloud-based solutions. Increasingly, SWIFT connectivity is integrated within treasury management and ERP solutions, so the implementation and integration burden is significantly reduced.
What factors would you say have contributed to the success of ING’s onboarding approach?
We established a central service for onboarding corporate customers some years ago, and since then, we have ramped up our skills and experience to become a centre of excellence. By concentrating knowledge and expertise, we are able to share best practices and support the specific needs of each customer through every step of the implementation journey. Building the right skills, a smooth onboarding process and excellent client service are key factors; however, just as important is the expanding scope and richness of our SWIFT offering. As a bank, we have expanded our footprint across Europe and beyond to reflect the evolving needs of our clients, and SWIFT is a valuable tool in managing international expansion and reducing the complexity of operating in new territories. For example, a growing number of our customers have operations in challenging countries such as Russia and Ukraine. By leveraging SWIFT, these customers can achieve visibility and manage risk in a way consistent with other parts of their business.
In addition, the range of SWIFT’s solutions continues to grow, such as SWIFT global payments innovation (gpi) that accelerates and builds transparency into cross-border payments. Customers are keen to understand and engage with these developments, and take advantage of new innovations. We are also proactive in promoting the use of MyStandards. This is a platform hosted by SWIFT where our customers can find the descriptions of our supported file formats and test the files they generate against our standards. MyStandards significantly increases the speed at which customers can adopt new file formats and increases their self-service capabilities.