Microsoft, GE and others boost Swift's corporate-to-bank strategy

Microsoft, GE and others boost Swift's corporate-to-bank strategy

Microsoft's corporate treasury department is embarking on a two-year project to establish links with banking partners via SwiftNet, while General Electric (GE) says failed payment transactions in its treasury ops have been reduced by over 85% following a recent implementation of the new IP-based network.

In December, Microsoft plans to begin a project to achieve a centralised view of its 1200 bank accounts around the globe. It will receive daily bank account balance and transaction data electronically from all its banking partners, via their Swift connections, directly into its SAP R/3 Corporate Finance Management (CFM) system.

Microsoft's primary global bank, Citigroup, is in the process of setting up a member-administrated closed user group (MA-CUG) to give Microsoft access to SwiftNet. Microsoft expects over time to connect to MA-CUGs established by around 25 of its major banks, which will also be used to communicate with other banks where it has less accounts.

Photo of announcement

 
Left to right at Sibos: Microsoft's David Littlewood, Swift CEO Leonard Schrank, Microsoft's Ed Barrie and Citi's Bharat Sarpeshkar

In using SwiftNet, Microsoft hopes to reduce the number of systems and data silos currently in operation, creating a standardised and efficient approach to its financial processes. Furthermore, the project will allow Microsoft to transform SAP CFM into a central reconciliation tool, helping the company close its books in a more timely and accurate fashion.

Microsoft will interface with its banks over SwiftNet using BizTalk Server, BizTalk Accelerator for Swift and BizTalk Server Adapter for Web Services Enhancements.

An InfoPath application hosted on SharePoint Portal Server will be used to enter information in a user-friendly format and send that data to SwiftNet via BizTalk Server. The result should be a significant reduction in the time and cost associated with Microsoft’s banking transactions.

"Like all corporate treasury departments, Microsoft is looking for richer and more timely information, error reduction, and better reconciliation of its financial position. With this new Swift-based solution, we think we will be able to achieve just that," says George Zinn, vice president, treasury, at Microsoft.

Leonard Schrank, CEO of Swift, says: "This is a strong indicator that our corporate-to-bank strategy is really gaining traction. I am sure our corporate access group, with senior executives drawn from our largest global members, will be encouraged by this important development."

Return on investment for GE Corporate Treasury

Swift received a further boost to its corporate-to-bank strategy with the announcement at Sibos that GE expects to realise a 406% return on investment over five years by moving to use SwiftNet.

Analysis conducted by consulting firm Thoughtware Worldwide for GE shows that the corporate treasury will generate $10.5 million in net benefits over five years from its investment in SwiftNet. This comes from being able to replace its fragmented approach to bank communication, which comprised point-to-point and proprietary bank connections, with a single window from its internal treasury workstation directly to banks via MA-CUGs.

Similar analysis by Thoughtware for global steel company Arcelor said it will achieve a 605 per cent return on investment by implementing SwiftNet as a single gateway for its consolidated corporate treasury activity.

DuPont, EADS, German vendor ABK, German service bureeau EFiS, and financial messaging software vendor TRAX also recently signed up to become corporates using SwiftNet, bringing the total number of corporates on Swift to 82.

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