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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Swift to offer corporate access via USB stick

Swift plans to launch a new 'lite' interface device at this year's Sibos in Vienna in September, in an effort to ease access to the payments messaging network for low volume financial institutions and...


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Ibos and Swift at loggerheads over Alliance Lite

Swift chairman Yawar Shah opened an unexpected can of worms when he approached shareholders for feedback on how the bank-owned co-operative could add more value to its members. Obligingly, Ibos MD Bob Lyddon has responded with a long list of complaints about Swift’s new Alliance Lite interface, which is being showcased at Sibos as a cheap and cheerful way for intermittent and low volume users to join the network.

To paraphrase, Lyddon accuses Swift of over-stepping the mark – and its own governance procedures – by actively promoting to corporates a new interface that competes with existing banking services (including those provided by the Ibos association of cash management banks).

Disintermediation, unfair competition and misrepresentation are among the taboo words bandied about by the Ibos boss. The arrival of the new interface not only distorts the competitive landscape, he suggests, but it also creates a fresh set of compliance and operational support challenges for banks to grapple with.

Fair comment or sour grapes from a banking association that was itself set up to profit from a collective failure in provision to an ill-served corporate market?

What do you think?

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Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 September, 2008, 10:30Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I vote for the sour grapes.

SWIFT has the mandate to serve the corporate community. Now they’ve come up with a method also to make the connectivity easier for the lower end of the market. That was bound to upset the service bureaus that were seeing this part of the market as their turf and take some of their business.

It is a bit like the browser war. Even if Microsoft offers a browser bundled with the operating system for free there are still browsers on the market that compete with Microsoft simply because they offer a better product or more features that Microsoft’s IE.

It is only natural that SWIFT would offer the possibility to connect to the SWIFTNet via the Internet. Such a connectivity may have certain weaknesses about uptime and security that other solutions could try to address better.

I was present at the Partner Meeting at SWIFT in March where it was shown; there, many service bureaus also raised their concern. One said straight out that Alliance Lite would drive them out of business.

However if SWIFT did not offer such a solution they would not fulfil their mandate of serving all their banks in the best way, now that banks have decided that they would like to communicate with their corporate customers via SWFITNet.

Only if SWIFT were to price Alliance Lite below cost would they abuse their monopolistic position.  I would understand if IBOS then complained that SWIFT were overstepping their mandate.

Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton 08 September, 2008, 09:54Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Good morning, Paul and Jorgen. The comments quoted in the post being discussed all emanated from bankers within IBOS member banks, principally from people dealing day-to-day with corporates in a sales or customer service role. Please bear in mind that these are not people dedicated solely to selling IBOS services, even though the IBOS services form part of their portfolio. These people often also have their bank's MACUG as part of that portfolio, and they have bought into the concept that a self-managed corporate - perhaps indeed disposing of a system such as Wall Street in their Treasury Centre - uses the MACUG channel, frequently employing their bank as a relay bank, for example for MT101. A number of IBOS banks have made IBOS services available under the MACUG channel, also a relay model. No conceptual problem either with a large corporate on the SCORE model where that corporate derives no value from a relay model. The conceptual problem is with a Mid-Corporate/Mid-Market corporate - whose pocket would not run to having a Wall Street type application in their office and who then probably does not have large subsidiaries in other countries - being offered a solution with little application functionality and containing the implication that they "go direct" to banks in many countries. Where does that fit in the bank's portfolio of services? What's the added-value being sold? And, on the support side, what is the boundary of the support they should/can offer when (a) their role has indeed been to sell the service, but (b) they cannot see the traffic because it goes onto the SWIFT network and (c) they are not involved in the transaction flow? These are the questions coming back, and in that respect, IBOS Office has appropriately acted as a relay mechanism, admittedly in this case overunning the customary 4*35 characters!