SWIFT announced today strong 2004 results.
The industry-owned provider of financial messaging and standards recorded 12.3% traffic growth to reach a total of 2.3 billion messages. This strong volume growth permitted a rebate for the third year running. The rebate was 10% amounting to EUR 33 million. By the end of 2004, the SWIFT community successfully completed migration to its new Internet Protocol (IP)-based messaging platform SWIFTNet.
Leonard H. Schrank, Chief Executive Officer, SWIFT commented, "2004 was an excellent year for SWIFT. We continued to reduce prices, we declared our third rebate in a row, and the SWIFTNet migration is now complete. The focus now turns to delivering the real value of SWIFTNet, and our commercial divisions will be working with our members around the world to identify opportunities for using SWIFTNet to generate substantial cost savings."
Payments, supported by treasury and trade-related activity, continue to drive SWIFT's core messaging business. Payments traffic grew 12.2%, accounting for 58.9% of total SWIFT traffic. Foreign exchange volatility contributed to a 14.8% increase in treasury messages. Trade traffic grew 6.2%, the market's strongest performance in five years – due largely to bilateral trade flows between the United States and major Asia-Pacific countries. Securities traffic grew 12.2% in 2004, accounting for one-third of SWIFT’s business. Peak days of over 10 million messages a day are now regular end-of-quarter events.
Belgium remained SWIFT's fifth largest user country in 2004, sending 124.6 million messages or 5.4% of SWIFT's total traffic. This represents a steady growth of 11.9% year-on-year, driven mainly by ongoing expansion of securities clearing and settlement activity.
2004 revenue was EUR 588 million. At constant prices and exchange rates, year-on-year growth would have been 7.7%. This strong financial performance coupled with good cost control generated a substantial surplus providing scope for SWIFT to rebate 10% (EUR 33 million) to customers. After rebate, profit before tax was EUR 18 million. FIN message prices were reduced by an additional 6.5%. Excluding rebates, the average price of sending a message over SWIFT has fallen 33% between 2001 and 2004. SWIFT anticipates further price reductions later this year.
Chief Financial Officer Francis Vanbever noted, "SWIFT financials are strong. Infrastructure and support costs will decrease with the decommissioning of the X.25 network infrastructure. Our robust financial position will ensure that we can maintain our policy of price reductions and rebates while continuing to invest in developments that support our community."
By the end of 2004, the SWIFT community of over 7,800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries completed its migration to the new IP-based messaging platform SWIFTNet. The migration began in 2003 and involved upgrading all interfaces and network connections to connect to the new SWIFTNet system. Customers can now take advantage not only of SWIFT's traditional FIN store and forward messaging application but new messaging services such as InterAct, FileAct and Browse as well as SWIFTSolutions, which are based on business process modelling and utilise the new XML-based messaging standard. Q1 2005 traffic growth is close to 10%, financials are strong and SWIFT's portfolio of standardised, automated SWIFTSolutions in payments, treasury, trade and securities are gaining traction. SWIFT is working with Chief Information Officers and Chief Operations Officers to define the opportunities for transformation and cost reduction by utilising SWIFTNet to its fullest potential.