SWIFT reported today that it recorded a solid financial performance in 2003 with messaging traffic hitting double-digit growth of 12.7% to reach a historic milestone of over 2 billion messages sent in one year. Message volume for 2003 was 8.2 million per day.
Leonard H. Schrank, Chief Executive Officer, SWIFT commented, "We are already off to a strong start for 2004. The migration of our entire community to our new IP Platform SWIFTNet, is nearly 50% complete and our message traffic growth is 15% year-to-date."
Payments, supported by treasury and trade-related activity continue to drive SWIFT's core business. Payments grew 9.5% in 2003 and account for 60% of messages. Foreign exchange volatility and the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) ramp up contributed to a strong increase in treasury messages, climbing 18% year-on-year. By comparison, trade messages grew a more modest 2.6% but nonetheless exhibit an upward growth trend indicating renewed global economic recovery not seen since 1999-2000. Trade figures continue to increase in 2004 showing that economic recovery is gathering pace.
Securities traffic remains SWIFT’s fastest growing market with volumes increasing 18.6% in 2003 driven mainly by the clearing and settlement segment. Total message traffic for the Benelux region grew 17.4%, driven by new developments in the securities settlement reporting process in Belgium.
Revenues were EUR 577 million in 2003. This strong financial performance allowed SWIFT to rebate EUR 25 million to customers. After rebate, profit before tax was EUR 28 million – in line with the previous year’s performance.
Chief Financial Officer Francis Vanbever added, "As a co-operative, SWIFT is not about profit maximisation. The key is to generate sufficient profit to be in a position to meet future investment challenges while keeping SWIFT’s commitment to further lower prices and remain competitive. We are confident that SWIFT is in a strong financial position to do this."
Reinforcing its commitment to customers to reduce messages prices by 50% over the 2002-2006 time frame, SWIFT also announced significant price reductions at Sibos in Singapore in October 2003. SWIFTNet FIN (SWIFT's core messaging application) prices were cut by 10%. InterAct and FileAct prices were cut by over 50% for domestic traffic and a range of other initiatives were announced to make SWIFTNet messaging services more competitive and to help lower the total cost of ownership for SWIFTNet.
Other key milestones included the completion of the migration from ISO 7775 to the richer ISO 15022 set of securities messages. Customers report a marked improvement of several percentage points in their STP rates along with a reduction in costs. In payments the migration from SWIFT's oldest and most used core payment message, MT 100, to the more powerful MT 103 was completed in November 2003. Responding to customer requirements to improve credit transfer messages and increase transparency in crossborder payments, the new MT 103 enables stricter validation, higher STP rates, lower message repair costs and regulatory compliance.
In May 2003, SWIFT celebrated its 30th anniversary, confirming the vision of its founding 239 members from 15 countries to create a co-operative community for standards setting and secure and reliable financial messaging. By the end of 2003, there were 7,654 financial institutions from 200 countries in SWIFT.