ISO 20022 Programme

The ISO 20022 Programme will change the way you send cross-border payments and reporting instructions. Find out what this means for you.

New approach to ISO 20022 adoption

At its March 2020 meeting, the SWIFT Board and Executive endorsed ambitious plans for SWIFT to support financial institutions’ payments and securities businesses and make the SWIFT platform richer, smarter and faster. SWIFT will enable transactions to move instantly and frictionless from account-to-account anywhere in the world across the end-to-end payments chain.

Rich data lies at the heart of this vision. It will provide the foundations for financial institutions to innovate and deliver better payments and digital experiences to end customers, and enable them to leverage the full value of the new platform.

In line with that vision, SWIFT is fully committed to improving transaction data quality through ISO 20022 and will continue to accelerate industry support to adopt ISO 20022 for market infrastructure initiatives, including TARGET2 migration/ESMIG, EURO1 and Bank of England RTGS renewal.

    Acting on feedback from the community, SWIFT will enable ISO 20022 messages for cross-border payments and cash reporting businesses starting from the end of 2022, which extends the originally announced date by one year, so that banks can adopt at their own pace, and reduce the total industry costs of realising the benefits of ISO 20022 together with the new platform. This modifies timings announced to the community in September 2018 in view of the new strategic direction.

    The work already undertaken by the community for ISO 20022, including data remediation, channel improvements and back-office processing is not wasted and will play a critical role in enabling future innovation by banks. The end-date to enable full ISO 20022 for cross-border payments remains as originally planned, November 2025. The coexistence period for current SWIFT MT messages and a new API-based exchange will last until that date.

    This means that financial institutions can maintain existing standards or migrate, and plan change at their own pace in line with their own innovation priorities.

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    Key highlights of the new approach are:

    • The new approach impacts SWIFT cross-border payments and cash management messages only. SWIFT support for market infrastructure (MI) ISO 20022 migration initiatives, including TARGET2 and Eurosystem Market Infrastructure Gateway (ESMIG), Bank of England (new RTGS) and other MIs is not affected;
    • New SWIFT capabilities will maintain complete data and state information for transactions centrally, relieving institutions in a payment processing chain of the obligation to pass on complete data and eliminating the problem that intermediaries may ‘break the chain’;
    • Improved transaction data quality through the use of ISO 20022 definitions and structures remains a key community objective and a cornerstone of the new approach;
    • Centralized orchestration, translation and protocol mediation services will enable institutions to continue with the formats and protocols they use today, and to implement ISO 20022 at their own pace without impacting the rest of the community;
    • To avoid community investment in a short-lived, messaging-only ISO 20022 solution, use of the existing SWIFT MT standard for cross-border and cash reporting will be extended by one year. Use of ISO 20022 for cross-border payments and cash reporting will be phased in under the new approach from the end of 2022;
    • From the end of 2022 the MT standard will be supported for backward compatibility purposes only. New developments will be based on ISO 20022 data, and will require institutions to implement structured data capabilities;
    • As originally planned MT category 1, 2 and 9 messages used in cross-border and cash reporting payments will be decommissioned in November 2025.

    What does this mean for your institution?

    • Your plans to adopt ISO 20022 for MI initiatives, including TARGET2 migration/ESMIG, are not affected;
    • The work already undertaken by the community to-date for ISO 20022, such as data remediation, channel improvements and back-office processing is not wasted and will still be required under the new strategy;
    • ISO 20022 messaging capabilities using the new FINplus messaging service will not be required for cross-border payments and cash reporting in November 2021;
    • You will continue to send and receive MT categories 1, 2 and 9 for cross-border payments and cash reporting after November 2021;
    • Payments originating in ISO 20022-native PMIs such as Target 2 and EURO1 (after November 2021) may include data that does not fit in the MT format. To mitigate compliance risks when such payments include a subsequent cross-border ‘leg out’, senders should ensure that the cross-border MT includes the key party information from the original ISO 20022 message. SWIFT will publish formal market practice to guide implementers. 
    • From end 2022 you will have the option to send and receive MT or ISO 20022. ISO 20022 users will also have the choice of the InterAct FINplus messaging service or APIs;
    • Institutions that originate high volumes of payment transactions will be encouraged to be early adopters of ISO 20022 for payment initiation, to ensure quality data is captured at the start of the transaction;
    • Ongoing work on channels and applications to enable ISO 20022 data to be captured, stored and shared should continue.

    A community FAQ is available here. More detailed information regarding the full benefits of SWIFT’s new approach to ISO 20022 will be shared in the coming months.

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    ISO 20022 timeline

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    1. Financial Institutions continue investment in preparation for ISO 20022 adoption

    Financial institutions should continue to prepare their ISO 20022 readiness for payment market infrastructures (PMIs) and cross-border payments. Customers should understand what is changing in the new Cross Border Payments and Reporting (CBPR+) messages, what is the impact to their systems and processes, get trained and plan their adoption. 

    SWIFT provides support and services to help you.

    2. 2021-22 SWIFT provides an interim solution based on existing SWIFT MT rich and structured formats

    Customers will continue to use SWIFT MT for cross-border payments.

    Payments originating in ISO 20022-native Payment Market Infrastructures (PMIs) such as Target 2 and EURO1 (after November 2021) may include data that does not fit in the MT format. To mitigate compliance risks when such payments include a subsequent cross-border ‘leg out’, senders should ensure that the cross-border MT includes the key party information from the original ISO 20022 message. 

    SWIFT will publish formal market practice to guide implementers.

    3. Enable end-to-end ISO 20022 capabilities while supporting co-existence

    The new approach will accelerate availability of richer data for early adoptors and remove dependency on intermediaries including PMIs.

    The ISO 20022 canonical data model will be used to enable rich data end-to-end, with complete transaction data maintained in the SWIFT platform. Intermediaries using SWIFT MT and legacy-format PMIs will no longer ‘break the chain’. The platform will adapt capabilities of participants such as MT, ISO 20022 messaging and APIs. API and GUI access will be provided.

    SWIFT will provide an update in upcoming ISO 20022 Programme webinars and information sessions, and more details in coming months.

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    Learn more about ISO 20022

    Gain a greater understanding of ISO 20022.

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