SWIFT’s new standards changes go live on 21st November 2009. Talking about this yesterday, I started thinking about the three key areas that SunGard think are critical for 2010 – Transparency, Efficiency and Networks. What the community is trying to achieve
with SWIFT’s MT202 is a great example of the first, transparency.
Sitting in some of the sessions here at Sibos, you are given the impression that many banks back-offices are still scrambling to be able to generate and accept these messages – messages that contain both full sender and full beneficiary information.
The challenge, though, goes beyond just back-offices and technology. Because now new questions arise: What is the impact of this change on AML compliance efforts? What about payment disruptions? What’s the real impact of these standards? If all goes well, will
we see more efforts to increase transparency as the fight to curtail the flow of illicit money in the world’s financial systems?
This got me thinking further about Networks. I had the pleasure of meeting SWIFT’s Eileen Dignen today – managing director for payments, Americas – and I asked her a few questions around innovation and change. She explained that she’s now seeing some very unique
partnerships evolving between banks and their software vendors. As banks look to innovate, there is lots of co-operative development happening between them.
In the world of payments, this is being driven by the impact felt over cross-border payment changes, cover payment changes, and new regulations. The last is huge – regulation is, of course, on all our minds.
With MT202, it’s clear that SWIFT is reacting and evolving to add value to the community. But I ask the question – is there more that can be done? Not necessarily by SWIFT, but by all of us?
What suprises me is that we have no global standard for currency transaction reports or suspicious activity reports. We also have no network over which to submit these reports to the relevant intelligence units. Surely we need some harmonization? Perhaps we
can learn from the practices happening with payments harmonization. There are a few sessions on this happening today, and I think for anyone in this space we should be paying attention.