Swift sets higher standards for service bureaux

Source: Swift

Service bureaux play a key role for the SWIFT community and connect a large number of SWIFT customers with their counterparties. The new Shared Infrastructure Programme (SIP) is launched in response to requests from the SWIFT Community and Board to minimise different legal, financial and operational risk factors related to service bureaux operations.

Under the new programme, both the eligibility criteria and compliance rules are clearly defined and the minimum level to operate a service bureau is stricter.

The Programme includes three key elements:

Checks to ensure that the service bureau complies with the programme eligibility criteria (as is the case today for users or shareholders of SWIFT).
An operational certification to verify compliance with requirements in availability, security and access control, telecommunications and integrity management.
A certification for service bureau specialists for SWIFT connectivity and on-boarding.
To cover the costs of running the programme, service bureaux will be charged a fee once every three years.

The implementation schedule
By the end of 2013, only service bureaux who comply with the SIP and attain at least the Minimum Operational Practice certification will be listed in the SWIFT directory. All service bureaux must comply with the stricter, Standard Operational Practice level by end of December 2015. There is an additional Premier certification which is optional, and reserved to those service bureaux with the highest quality infrastructure. The compliance and certification checks for the SIP will begin in April 2013.

Reliability and opportunity
The new programme is designed to give customers and their counterparties, new confidence in the professional qualifications and reliability of all service bureaux. Its requirements define consistent, more rigorous criteria to operate a service bureau and limit the different risk exposures. Further, the new programme will provide higher levels of transparency for all parties involved.

For the service bureaux, the new programme will strengthen their critical role within the SWIFT Community, potentially improving their individual offering for customers. At present, many service bureaux operate at high standards and the new programme will allow them to differentiate their service through the operational certifiertification levels and publication in the new directory. Furthermore, with all of the service bureaux operating at the new standards, we expect to see better servicing of customers and fewer issues that need support.

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