Swift has developed a proof of concept for a central utility for routing and validating electronic bank account management (eBAM) messages, a new non-financial standard from the cooperative that was released to market in April.
eBAM combines the use of ISO 20022 XML compliant standards with Swift's messaging platform, allowing banks and corporates to streamline the manual process of bank account management, including account opening, closing, maintenance and reporting.
JPMorgan Chase has adopted the standard for offering eBAM services to its direct clients, and a number of other banks including Citi and Bank of New York Mellon are progressing beyond initial pilots that have taken place since last year.
"There are about 12-15 vendors developing or offering eBAM solutions and we've heard from banks they're concerned that all the different implementation approaches could create fragmentation," says Carlo Palmers, eBAM market manager at Swift.
"The utility wouldn't necessarily have to be on SwiftNet, but it's very similar in approach to what we do with SwiftNet FIN," says Palmers. "And if we're building the utility, we're also considering ways we can add value."
One area being looked at is hosting a central database of the documentary requirements of different countries and banks worldwide. The utility could then also validate new account applications to ensure that all necessary documents have been provided.
Going one step further, there have been discussions about combining the utility with the eBiz digital lockbox concept that emerged from the Innotribe innovation competition at last year's Sibos in Hong Kong. This could give corporates a central place to store all their documentation to support account opening and maintenance for all their banks.
But Palmers says that when they consulted Swift's corporate advisory group, they were advised that they should only go so far as providing the documentary requirements database - at least in the first stage of development.
"We're really just testing it with the community to see if they think it's a good idea. Will people participate? Is it a vendor competitive issue?" says Palmers. "After information gathering at Sibos we will form a working group at Sibos with the banks most active in eBAM and take it from there."
Glen Solimine, head of sales at Wall Street Systems, worked with Bank of New York Mellon on its first full-scale trial of eBAM in which a number of corporates agreed to participate to test naming conventions and message handling protocols.
"There have been some suggestions that eBAM could become a widespread standard within two years for banks and corporates of all sizes, in all sectors, and across all regions," he says. "A more conservative estimate for adoption across all these segments is three to five years.
"But two things could help speed up adoption - they are the 3Skey digital single sign-on announcement, and any development that helps streamline the documentation requirements. Once these are in place, significant barriers to adoption are removed."