February is the time for many of us to visit SWIFT for the annual Partner meeting. It was nice to see some new faces this year and it’s also a great opportunity to catch up and discuss SWIFTs strategies with the regular crowd.
SWIFT is a unique organisation in the midst of change, it is trying to become more commercial but it is also a standards body and a ‘not for profit’ organisation owned by its members, to me this is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand SWIFT tells us how much
they value the partner community, but on the other their strategy is to increasingly compete with its partners. The main reason for this we are told is cost, i.e., that partner products are too expensive and limit the adoption of SWIFT. So one part of SWIFT
wants to sell products and services and make money, whilst the other part (including partner management and standards) is trying to reduce cost and complexity with products like the SDK and MyStandards, but they are still products you have to pay for.
Other standards bodies such as FIX and FpML have succeeded in achieving massive adoption of their standards by being open, inclusive and providing easy access to tools that allows the market to produce cost effective solutions, encouraging the adoption and
use of their network and standards.
My questions then concern SWIFT’s priorities, should they be to make money, to be more sales led and competitive, which entails competing with partners and ultimately reduces competition, or in fostering the adoption of SWIFT and other financial messaging
standards for the benefit of the community?
As an example, take a look at the CBT market, 30+ solutions 10 years ago, now just a hand full with SWIFT Alliance owning 80% of the market. A follow up question then, is Alliance a cost effective product that enables SWIFT usage? The answer to this may
influence your views on the main question of SWIFT’s strategy.
I look forward to reading your views.