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What is the difference between ISO 20022 and ISO 15022 ?

That seems like a pretty fair question, since it’s hard to find someone who can give me a straight and understandable answer, and since some parties are claiming that “the industry is migrating to ISO 20022”.  This feels like another one of those “Emperors’s New Clothes” situations – anybody who is anybody should know the answer, and if you don’t know or understand then you’re obviously a nobody.

I have a feeling that most people think that ISO 20022 is basically the same as ISO 15022, but the messages are just a bit longer.  A bit like the old 80-column punched card versus the 96-column punched card (oh yes, I do go back that far!).  Lots of firms use ISO 15022 but it doesn’t actually match their needs – they end up having to put lots of the message data into the “free-format text” fields, which means that they cannot be processed automatically.  More room for data in the message means more STP.

Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be what ISO 20022 is.

Is ISO 20022 going to replace ISO 15022?  Well, considering that some vendors very recently force-migrated banks from ISO 7775 to ISO 15022 on the basis that it would be the “bee’s knees”, it’s pretty unlikely that the banks are all going to pop off and invest a few more billions in the latest standard all at the same time.

Are ISO messaging standards more about process than about results?  It feels very much that way - it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.  A bit like the Emperor and his new clothes – it was the way that he wore the clothes that counted, and not the fact that he was stark naked.

So – what is the story with ISO 20022?


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