Swift elects new chairman; approves wider corporate access

Swift elects new chairman; approves wider corporate access

Financial messaging network Swift has a new chairman and new user category following its Annual General Meeting, at which the co-operative's board elected Yawar Shah of JPMorgan Chase (pictured) to succeed ABN Amro's Jaap Kamp as chairman, and the broad membership overwhelmingly approved an easing of the access criteria for corporates.

Swift shareholders approved by 98.6% the addition of corporates as a new participant category after the board green-lighted a new model for access at its March meeting. This followed a year-long review of the issue by 15 senior executives from leading cash management banks under Shah's chairmanship.

Corporates have had access to Swift since 1988 via Treasury Counterparty and Member Administered Closed User Group (MA-CUG) models. Although these bank-sponsored payment gateways have so far been deployed by over 100 banks, and joined by over 120 corporate users, they have been criticised by the large corporate community for preserving a restrictive, proprietary relationship.

The new category will enable qualifying corporates to join a single closed user group (CUG) containing many financial institutions, where corporate-to-financial institution SwiftNet messaging and file transfer are supported.

Swift says the improved access process should address corporate demands for better standardisation and interaction with multiple banks.

Speaking on the issue, Shah is careful to delineate the thin dividing line between co-operation and competition in the corpoate services space. "Value-added services, such as cash management or trade services, will remain the remit of financial institutions which will develop, market and support their own solutions."

Shah's election as chairman of the interbank co-operative comes as no surprise. Schooled in the high value payments business at NY money centre bank Chase Manhattan, he has been a Swift director since 1995 and deputy chairman since 1996.

Kamp, a long term career banker at ABN Amro, steps down after twelve years on the Society's board, the last six as chair.

Stephan Zimmermann, COO, global wealth management & business banking and member of the group managing board, UBS, Switzerland has been elected deputy chairman.

Swift also announced five new directors are joining the board, representing Belgium, the United States, Hong Kong, Sweden and Luxembourg: Ignace Combes, deputy CEO, Euroclear, will become Belgium’s second board member; Alan Goldstein, MD, technology risk management and architecture, The Bank of New York, will replace Raymond Parodi of Citibank and a former chairman of Swift’s Securities Committee; Eli Sinyak, HSBC CIO fills the vacancy left by fellow HSBC colleague YB Yeung, who has variously chaired the Hong Kong user group, Asia Pacific council and Swift's technology and production committee; Per-Eric Skotthag, deputy head of global operation services and head of GOS transition office, Nordea Bank, Stockholm replaces SEB's Roger Storm, and Clearsteam's Jeffrey Tessler takes the seat left by André Roelants, chairman of the Luxembourg-based clearer.

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