Europe's central banks have awarded the two Target2Securities (T2S) connectivity licenses to Swift and a consortium made up of SIA and Colt.
T2S, now slated to go live in mid-2015 following a series of delays, is the European Central Bank's controversial plan to streamline the continent's securities settlement structure.
In July Banca d'Italia, acting as the contracting authority with a mandate from the Eurosystem central banks, invited tenders for the two licences to provide connectivity services for the project.
The seven year contracts require the winners to design and build the network, linking central securities depositories with the European Central Bank, and then let them charge fees to users.
The licenses have now been given to inter-bank messaging co-operative Swift and partners Colt, a telecoms firm, and Italian payment processor SIA. T2S actors - CSDs, central banks, and their customers - who want to connect to to the platform via a "value-added connection" will have to select one of these two providers after negotiating terms.
The ambitious T2S project has been dogged by problems since it was first mooted in 2006. After being forced to delay the go-live date again, in November the ECB tried to build momentum by outlining plans to offer 'early bird' incentives to central securities depositories that sign up, dangling significant price cuts to CSDs that sign up to a newly minted Framework Agreement by this April.