Microsoft has formally launched BizTalk Accelerator, a middleware solution designed to help financial institutions integrate financial messaging with internal business systems, support Swift ISO 15022 and new XML-based industry standards, and rapidly manage and repair messaging and trade errors.
Based on Microsoft's BizTalk Server 2002, the solution provides financial industry-specific messaging capabilities that enable financial institutions to manage exceptions, rationalise reference data, detect and repair faulty messages and build new Swift and FIX compatible systems.
The first version of the software focuses on payments processing and capital markets trading, settlement and delivery processes. Built-in features include over 90 document specifications, or schemas, which describe Swift and ISITC messages for payments, foreign exchange, securities trading and reporting.
Microsoft executives have been quietly touting the capabilities of the new kit at industry trade shows and to selected clients. Although not exhibiting at the annual Swift interbank payments show in Geneva last month - where similar initiatives were previewed by IBM, Reuters and Sun among others - Microsoft staffers were in attendance and talking up the system to prospective clients and technology partners.
During the development phase, Microsoft has worked with financial institutions such as Nordea and with the Italian technology service provider SIA that is implementing the pan-European automated clearing house for the Euro Banking Association (EBA).
Gilbert Lichter, EBA secretary general, believes the software will help banking members meet tough European Commission deadlines for lowering fees on cross-border payments. He says: "We have been particularly pleased that Microsoft has helped to change the economics of this type of solution by improving cost, flexibility and speed to market. This enables us to roll the solution out to all our members, large and small, across Europe."
Microsoft has additionally joined the Swift partner programme and is providing an immediate solution for institutions to become ISO 15022 compliant. It also offers support for ISO 7775 messaging standards and the new Swift Secure IP Network and Gateway.
Derek LaSalle, lead program manager for the Biztalk Accelerator for Financial Services, based in Redmond, points to estimates of a $2.2 billion technology spend by financial insitutions on EAI integration technology in 2003 alone.
"With the general industry shift to new IP-based standards for financial messaging there is increasing pressure on financial institutions to support and integrate these standards quickly with existing infrastructure," he says. "We recognised that the market is ripe for a broadly available solution that enables our customers to comply with new standards quickly, and most importantly at a low cost."