Experiencing SWIFT in High Definition
by Harcus Copper, Global Channel Head, SWIFT Corporate Access, Barclays
SWIFTNet is fast becoming the bank communication method of choice for large multinational corporations, particularly those with multiple banking relationships on a global scale. SWIFT’s potential is not restricted to the world’s largest corporations, however. There are now 1,000 corporates connected to their banks via SWIFTNet, with SWIFT announcing a target of 5,000 corporate customers by 2015. With new deployment methods and a growing range of services available, corporations of all sizes can leverage the benefits that SWIFT offers. Key to the success of any connectivity project, from mid-tier to large-cap corporate, is the quality of the implementation. At Barclays, we support over 100 of those corporates currently using SWIFT, with the second highest FIN traffic (the channel for high volume payments and other financial messaging) globally. Consequently, we have built up considerable experience in successfully implementing SWIFT and helping customers to take advantage of opportunities that it presents.
There are currently three ways to connect to SWIFT:
Direct connectivity: The corporation manages the SWIFT gateway and associated infrastructure directly. This was the approach taken by early adopters when service bureaus either did not exist or were still in the early stages of their development. Since then, service bureaus have matured and have often been acquired by larger businesses, such as the acquisition of SMA by Bottomline Technologies, which gives corporate users greater confidence in the stability of a potential connectivity partner. Consequently, while some very large multinationals continue to connect to SWIFT directly, this is rarely the case for new implementations and many early users have also migrated to service bureaus.
Service bureaus: The corporation outsources SWIFT connectivity to a specialist service bureau or member concentrator. This model has proved very successful as a cost-effective and efficient means for companies to leverage the expertise and infrastructure that the service bureau can provide. Most new implementations involve indirect connectivity to SWIFT via a service bureau.
Alliance Lite: In 2009, SWIFT launched Alliance Lite, a web-based connectivity solution for corporates with lower transaction volumes, which did not quite meet the needs of our clients owing to the volume restrictions and available cost models.
Recently, however, SWIFT has announced that Alliance Lite2 would be available by the end of 2012, which will offer ‘cloud-based’ connectivity to SWIFT, support higher message volumes, include all SWIFT message formats (MT and MX) and standards, provide enhanced integration capabilities and a more attractive pricing model. This represents a major step forward in enabling a wider spectrum of corporates to connect to their banks via SWIFT.
Alliance Lite2 is closely related to corporates’ familiar electronic banking systems, making it a solution which is more acceptable and easier to implement than other SWIFT connectivity models. Furthermore, Alliance Lite2 provides companies that have been uncomfortable with outsourcing their infrastructure to a third party with the assurance of a SWIFT-managed solution. Consequently, we expect to see considerable acceleration of corporate adoption of SWIFT through Alliance Lite2.