15 June 2007

SWIFT announces plans for system re-architecture

New structure to expand network capabilities, improve commercial positioning and allay data privacy concerns

The SWIFT Board of Directors has approved, in principle, enhancements to its global messaging architecture. The new architecture will lead to a more distributed data processing and storage model in the SWIFT network.

The planned changes will expand SWIFT's messaging capacity and reinforce network resilience bringing considerable benefits to the SWIFT community as a whole. They improve our commercial positioning. They are in line with our overall goal of reducing operational costs and prices. They will also allay data privacy concerns raised in the context of SWIFT's required compliance with US Treasury subpoenas for subsets of SWIFT messages.

The Board will be asked to approve final details of the investment plans at its meeting in September this year. The implementation phase is expected to last three to four years. Currently, SWIFT has operating centres in Europe and the US. Messages are processed simultaneously at both locations to prevent data loss. The re-architecture will allow for intra-European data to be stored only in Europe.

SWIFT CEO, Lázaro Campos, said "This decision is an important step forward in SWIFT's development as the world's leading financial messaging provider. Together with our clients, we have ambitious plans for growth. The proposed new architecture lays the foundations for this growth through an expanded and enhanced service offering to clients. At the same time, it is an important sign of how seriously we take data privacy concerns; we continue to make the protection of customer data our absolute priority."

Notes:
Today's announcement is part of a broader set of initiatives that SWIFT has undertaken in order to respond to the data protection concerns arising in the context of SWIFT's required compliance with US Treasury subpoenas for subsets of SWIFT messages:

  • At a political level, SWIFT continues to support the ongoing dialogue between the EU and US on the processing and transfer by SWIFT of financial data for the purposes of anti-terrorism in addition to providing legal certainty for SWIFT and its member institutions.
  • SWIFT is due to be included in the EU-US Safe Harbour Agreement later this year. Safe Harbour is a framework negotiated by the EU and US in 2000 to provide a way for companies in Europe, with operations in the US, to conform to EU data privacy regulations. By adhering to this framework, SWIFT confirms that customers' data located in the US are protected under similar data privacy principles as in Europe.
  • SWIFT has set up a data privacy working group composed of data privacy and compliance experts from European and non-European banks. The group has been asked to propose contractual solutions to further enhance compliance and transparency, where appropriate, for the processing of financial messaging data, including for the banks' customers. The group will also review the implementation of the Safe Harbour principles by SWIFT, in so far as this may impact the SWIFT Community. The group is due to complete its work in the third quarter of 2007.

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