Financial messaging network Swift is working on plans to develop a commercial Trade Services Utility that would enable banks to extend their influence in the corporate trade supply chain.
The Swift board set up a Trade Services Advisory Group (TSAG) last year with a mandate to review Swift’s trade services strategy. The group recommended that Swift expand from its present focus on traditional collections and documentary credits to supporting the banks’ full range of supply chain services.
As a first step, the banking co-operative developed a prototype for a central industry matching utility - the SwiftNet Trade Services Utility (TSU) - for processing corporate trade documents. The TSU is a matching and rules based engine which compares and associates data elements from corporate documents.
The SwiftNet TSU prototype was launched on 9 August 2004, with almost 200 matches achieved in the first three weeks. The objective, says Tom Turner, Swift Board member, chairman of the TSAG, and director, corporate banking services, Royal Bank of Scotland, is to help establish the commercial validity of the TSU approach and to gain practical input on functionality for a commercial solution.
At the same time, Swift is working with a group of banks to define the requirements for the development a commercial offering.
Says Turner: "Swift is uniquely positioned to develop a TSU which would enable banks to provide innovative trade supply chain services to their customers."
If the banking community reacts positively to the prototype and to the market validation, he says, Swift will seek board approval in December 2004 to develop a commercial product, which could be available for piloting towards the end of 2005.