Financial messaging body Swift has announced a system upgrade, the first since 2007, for both SwiftNet and Alliance, its messaging and connectivity services respectively.
The new release, version 7.0, will be made available free of charge to all Swift customers under the conditions of their license agreements and will be rolled out on a gradual basis from December 31st 2010 until March 2012.
The new system will feature a Web-based graphical user interface and will be compatible with the latest software version such as Windows 7. It will also feature support for disaster recovery and a customer-hosted database.
Victor Abbeloos, product director at Swift, estimates the cost of the system upgrade as "100 staff years" (roughly equivalent to $10m), a figure that is all the more significant given Swift's stated intention to reduce its operating costs and also reduce the cost to its customers by 20%.
"We do have a 'lean programme' but at the same time our customers have an upgrade agreement as part of their license," says Abbeloos. "It is not just about cutting costs, it is also about being more efficient in order to deliver benefits to the customer."
Swift is currently in a pilot phase with 20 volunteer banks and the decision of when to upgrade will be at customers' discretion, says Abbeloos. However he stresses that unlike the two voluntary upgrades that were offered between 2007 and 2011 and accepted by less than 400 Swift customers, upgrading to version 7.0 will be mandatory.
"Swift is all about interoperability. Both sides of the transaction have to work with each other and need to be sure they are all on the same version and equally prepared. So by March 2012 every Swift customer will be on version 7.0"
Swift has also issued a 15% rebate on 2010 messages that will return approximately €50m to Swift users. The rebate, the first since 2008, will be paid in January 2011.