Stephen Lindsay is the business lead for Swift’s strategic platform, which enables instant cross-border transactions. He is based in Brussels.
The greatest innovations bring people together, spur collaboration and let us speak a language we all understand. This is true across every field and industry – from political forums breeding cooperation to technology connecting us even in the most remote corners of the world.
When it comes to payments, it’s no different. When money moves across borders, we rarely think about the layers of communication before a payment is executed. Over time, formats used for payments messages in different regions have developed idiosyncrasies requiring translation, creating bottlenecks that cause inefficiencies and increased costs.
To address this, the industry is embracing ISO 20022 – a new standard for payments messages embodying open communication and setting the blueprint for the importance of standard-setting across financial services.
Inefficiencies across payments have emerged over time as specialists developed their own jargon for payments messages, using different words with the same meaning that require clarification and delay execution. As a standardized format, ISO 20022 creates a common language for international payments the world over.
ISO 20022 messages contain richer and better-quality data than we’ve ever seen in cross-border payments, providing transacting parties access to more detail and actionable insights.
Better information ensures businesses can deploy resources efficiently and effectively. From improved fraud detection to highly relevant products, potential future innovations can be unlocked through richer data.
This transition to a standard underpinned by rich data enables global connectivity and compatibility with virtually all payments systems worldwide. It also offers much higher levels of resilience and efficiency because messages can be re-routed, if needed, and undergo straight-through processing to overcome outage risks and reduce delays.
In a constantly changing financial world, ISO 20022 is the most flexible financial messaging standard developed to date. This is critical for future-proofing the payments industry.
An adaptable global standard will ensure the entire community can make and receive transactions and continue to speak the same language, even as new technologies develop and economies shift.
Market participants are increasingly aware of how important efficient cross-border payments are to international commerce. This is why the G20 released a roadmap for improving international transactions, and ISO 20022 is directly aligned with this ambition as a central pillar of a more inclusive and efficient payments ecosystem.