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Could there be a real rival to SWIFT?

Finding a SWIFT alternative always comes up in any discussion about messaging standards and the direction the finance industry is going. Most professional people in the know agree that SWIFT is a double-edged sword with both good and bad points. On balance the good has outweighed the bad but the gap is narrowing.

SWIFT has had some outstanding achievements over the last thirty years and can be congratulated on bringing high degrees of automation deep into the processes of banks and has enabled closer integration globally between many financial services suppliers that otherwise would be outcasts in market terms anyway. However, the facts appear obvious that SWIFT is struggling to maintain its historical position as new technology hits the market with ever increasing speed.

The demands of financial institutions have never been greater than today and in the future the financial world will demand higher connectivity with its customers, whilst fully embracing the web but with much lower communications costs. Scale has always been sought in markets and SWIFT is struggling to match those of commercial communication networks.

Although ISO15022 and ISO20022 messages have their place in today's markets and in the case of ISO20022 the future, it has to be questioned if SWIFT is the right authority to manage them. Surely in today's world the management and development of standards should be not through any single entity but through a collaborative management of all the network suppliers.

Thomson Reuters has just announced their Reuters Messaging Interexchange (RM) a global instant messaging hub connecting Thomson Reuters with Cisco's Jabber XCP, IBM Lotus' Sametime and Microsoft's LCS/OCS. Surely this form of partnership, covering such a wide area of business is the future. Could this type of initiative be further developed to offer a serious alternative to SWIFT? Certainly in terms of global industry coverage it leaves SWIFT standing and with ISO20022 and other XML based messages looking like the future, Thomson Reuters new hub could have placed them as the favourites to rival SWIFT.


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Gary Wright

Gary Wright


BISS Research

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19 Sep 2007



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