12 October 2014

SWIFT2015 exceeded high expectations

With SWIFT2020, the cooperative aims to deliver even more to its community.

SWIFT's remarkable journey continues apace. Sibos 2015 coincides with the final chapter in SWIFT's 2015 strategic cycle and the launch of its 2020 strategy. Ahead of the event, Sibos Issues caught up with SWIFT chairman Yawar Shah, and CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt, to hear how SWIFT has delivered against the plans it laid out in 2010, and to learn how this year's Sibos programme reflects the changing environment against which SWIFT's 2020 strategy has been drawn up.

"The SWIFT2015 strategy has undoubtedly been a great success story," said Shah. "Not only has SWIFT met the goals set out in the strategy - but in many cases exceeded them. SWIFT has maintained its unrivalled reliability record, continued to grow its community, significantly exceeded its messaging price reduction target and by the end of this year FIN and InterAct traffic are expected to have grown by around 50% since 2010, and FileAct by 250%."

Over the last five years, SWIFT's message volumes have grown, both organically and as a result of strategies to bring on new customer flows - whether from the funds, securities or corporates sector; at the same time, peak volumes have continued, and SWIFT's capacity has continued to grow along with them. If that were not remarkable enough, SWIFT's message traffic growth has been accompanied by significant infrastructure investments, the completion of SWIFT's Distributed Architecture project and the ongoing FIN Renewal project, the transferral of the FIN messaging operations to a new more powerful, cost-effective and risk-optimised technology platform.

"As part of SWIFT2015, we have continued to future-proof our operations," added Leibbrandt. "But if SWIFT is more secure than ever before, the challenges are also greater than ever, particularly on the cyber front. We will not stop here; we will continue to invest in our operations, our systems, and our protections; our focus on cyber-protection will be relentless."

The challenges are clear, but so too are the opportunities, and most importantly – our direction. We are, and will continue to remain true to our true north – global and neutral, delivering trusted execution.

—Yawar Shah, Chairman, SWIFT

Industry leader

If cyber has become a board-level issue for SWIFT and the financial sector in general, so too has financial crime compliance, and SWIFT has been equally busy during this strategic cycle building out a suite of financial crime compliance tools and services for its community.

"Within a few years, we have established SWIFT as a leader in the industry for financial crime compliance solutions," said Shah. "We saw the move into this area as a logical and strategic fit for SWIFT and a natural extension of our role in the global correspondent banking market. In delivering utility services which mutualise cost, mitigate risk and standardise processes for the industry, we have involved the community at every step in this journey. The level of uptake for the products and services that SWIFT has rolled out so far evidences that the community-based approach we took was the correct one."

Since the beginning of 2014, SWIFT has acquired Omnicision, the compliance services start-up which developed SWIFT's Sanctions Testing product, introduced a Compliance Analytics tool, and launched The KYC Registry, putting SWIFT on a clear path to become the leader in financial crime compliance solutions.

"We are excited that in less than a year since its launch, The KYC Registry now has well over a thousand subscribers," said Leibbrandt. "Building out our financial crime compliance services portfolio will remain a top priority for SWIFT during the next five years, with a new payments data quality service coming in 2016 to help banks evaluate originator and beneficiary information in SWIFT messages in line with FATF Recommendation 16. A new sanctions list management service and an extension of KYC-related services offered in conjunction with The KYC Registry are also on the cards."

Delivering better service

Five years ago, SWIFT set out to expand its range of diversified connectivity options. With Alliance Lite2 for lower volume customers and the Alliance Messaging Hub (AMH) which addresses both higher-volume clients and incorporates more specific functionalities, all kinds of different users can access SWIFT as best suits their needs. Leibbrandt said: "Our new connectivity options represent more than just a different access to SWIFT, but allow us to adapt to different and new kinds of users, their different needs and challenges, thereby growing our community. We will soon have some exciting news on this front - watch this space!"

SWIFT2015 delivered impressive results in growing the community. Today, 45% of the Fortune Global 500 corporates are connected to SWIFT, firmly establishing the cooperative in the corporate-to-bank space. In the years ahead, SWIFT will continue to build out its corporate offering.

"Over the last five years we have also been involved in some exciting regional integration and market infrastructure (MI) projects, delivering innovative and tailored solutions," added Leibbrandt, referring to projects such as TARGET2, T2S, CLS and SEPA. "Together with MIRS, SWIFT's market infrastructure resilience services, the cooperative's MI services now go well beyond traditional messaging."

SWIFT has also made significant headway in emerging markets over the past five years, and as a result is seeing rapid traffic growth, from regions such as Africa. At the same time, SWIFT's new Corporate Services Hub in Kuala Lumpur, its fast-growing footprint in Central and South America, and its expanded office network are all reinforcing the cooperative's global footprint.

"We are also working on some interesting local projects which we are really excited about. As well as our first ever joint venture with SWIFT India, we are now working with our Australian community to deliver the New Payments Platform, a move that cements us firmly in the real-time payments market," said Leibbrandt.

SWIFT2020 will prepare our cooperative for the next decade. With a strong focus on the core, and expanding our compliance and market infrastructure offering, we will to continue to stay true to our cooperative nature and continue to deliver value to our community.

— Gottfried Leibbrandt, CEO, SWIFT

Looking forward

SWIFT's 2015 delivery is all the more impressive considering the challenging backdrop against which the cooperative operates - challenges that SWIFT isn't shying away from. Geopolitics, geo-economics, innovation, disruption, cyber risks, financial crime compliance - Sibos 2015 will explore all these topics and more.

"For Sibos 2015, SWIFT has put together a great agenda, and a fantastic line up of speakers," says Shah. "The community will have the opportunity to inform itself and help make important decisions about our collective future, the future of our cooperative. There will be discussions around the growing cyber threats, and how to deal with them - a matter that is not only of ever-growing importance for the board and SWIFT management, but for the entire community. We will also discuss the impact that the geopolitical landscape, changes in currency flows, and innovation in and around the industry have on the business. Do business models need to change? Are they fit for purpose? It's a truly stimulating agenda."

"This year's Sibos will also give us an opportunity to present more on SWIFT2020, our new five-year strategy," added Leibbrandt. "SWIFT2020 will prepare our cooperative for the next decade. With the help of our community, I believe we can stay ahead of the many challenges, and drive innovation to capture some of the many opportunities. We are excited to take our community on the journey to 2020. With a strong focus on the core, and expanding our compliance and market infrastructure offering, we will to continue to stay true to our cooperative nature and continue to deliver value to our community. SWIFT2020 will help us do exactly that; Sibos 2015 is just the start of it."

"The challenges are clear, but so too are the opportunities, and most importantly - our direction," concluded Shah. "We are, and will continue to remain true to our true north - global and neutral, delivering trusted execution."