SWIFT Makes Message Implementation Easier
SWIFT, operator of a global messaging network, has officially launched MyStandards, a web-based application to help financial firms reduce the time and cost to implement new market practices and changes to message standards.
Financial firms will no longer need to interpret reams of documents and hope they understand the information so they can make the necessary technological adjustments.
"My Standards bridges the gap between business and IT and is geared towards business analysts, product and project managers and standards implementers," says SWIFT in a statement issued on Monday at a private customer briefing in New York. Bank of New York Mellon; JP Morgan; Citi; RBC Dexia; SIX; the Bundesbank; Clearstream and the UK Payments Council participated in the initial pilot phase for designing MyStandards. A second pilot phase opened the product to over 30 institutions.
Market practice refers to the series of rules a group of financial firms in each country creates for how buy and sell-side companies in their market will use and interpret messages developed by SWIFT which comply with the International Organization for Standardization's requirements. Those messages are typically used to make payments, settle securities transactions, and communicate information on corporate actions such as dividends and income payments as well as more complex restructurings. The International Securities Association for Institutional Trade Communication, or ISITC, a trade group of operations and message experts at fund managers, broker-dealers and custodian banks, serves as the market practice group for the US securities industry.
Financial firms typically need to recode internal applications to adhere to market practices and any changes made to SWIFT's messages which occur annually -- a pretty cumbersome process. Financial institutions using MyStandards can now find in machine readable format any changes in market practices or messages. As described in SWIFT's marketing materials, MyStandards saves users time in exploring and understanding information thanks to a "consistent and intuitive markup method for all base standards and usage guidelines."
Business analysts within the middle and back offices of buy-and-sell side firms which would use the SWIFT message types don't have to dig into handbooks and other documents to find the market practice; then interpret the market practice and send information often via Excel spreadsheets to IT departments so they can implement the necessary changes to computer codes on various applications. An impact analysis functionality allows financial firms to understand how any changes SWIFT makes to its messages affects market practice; comparison features allow market practice groups in each country to see the differences in market standards across countries, says Marc Delbaere, head of research and development of standards at SWIFT's headquarters in La Hulpe, Belgium.
MyStandards is offered in two versions: a free of charge version allows users to search, browse and comment on the content of the standards and market practices. A premium level service, governed by a yearly subscription fee offers open access to advanced features such as impact analysis and comparison.
Delbaere won't specify the fee for the premium service level which he says its price tag should encourage market adoption; it is available to financial institutions, market infrastructures and corporations even if they are not members of SWIFT. However, for now the premium level service will not be open to SWIFT's partners or vendors even though the firms might help companies link to the SWIFT network or offer software to make message adoption easier.
Written by Chris Kentouris, Editor-in-chief (Chris can be contacted through Chris.Kentouris@hotmail.com)