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Are We Heading Into Chaos - Again?

This is the time of year when the financial services industry, or at least the "techie" element heads off to some exotic venue for the annual SWIFT jamboree. SWIFT as we all know is the global financial messaging operator. And as part and parcel of what they do, they have also created the messaging standards on which the financial world to a very large degree depends.  

Of course there are huge exceptions, especially in the United States where most banks are not members of SWIFT. But in the rest of the world any bank that is worth its salt is a part of this very important element of the financial system's operating backbone.

So with this as a background, I am somewhat taken aback to read that the international financial messaging standard which has become so ubiquitous over the past three decades is under "attack" for want of a better word.

Banks are, by all accounts, moving to back to proprietary systems for many of their new messaging requirements. There are many reasons for doing this; existing messaging systems can't meet specific unique requirements, development cycles for new messaging standards are too long, existing services are too expensive (given the surge in message numbers), platform migrations are too complicated or not yet budgeted for and so-on. Now, I don't want to get into the pros and the cons of all these issues. Everyone has surely got their own very valid points of view on this. And this question of the whys and the wherefores surely has material for many, many debates.

What does concern me however, is the fact that perhaps we are now plunging headlong into an ever increasing period of infrastructural chaos because of these actions. Are banks short term goals clouding the bigger picture?

If the financial industry as a whole looses this one - and we head into a new period of multiple, competing and incompatible messaging standards - we face years of soaring operating costs and other miseries as we try to bridge these developing operating gaps in the future.

My own view is "please let's think this through properly before we condemn the next two decades of banking to immense problems".

What are YOUR thoughts?        

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