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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.

New approach to ISO 20022 adoption

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.

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.

Responsible innovation

Key highlights of the new approach

  • 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;
  • Centralised 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.

Learn more

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.

More detailed information regarding the full benefits of SWIFT’s new approach to ISO 20022 will be shared in the coming months.

Frequently Asked Questions


From now until the end of 2022, MT remains the standard for cross-border payments. During this time, users and their supporting colleagues need to train for CBPR+ and prepare back office systems for native ISO 20022 support.

From end 2022 until November 2025, ISO 20022 message exchanges will be available. The new Transaction Management platform will provide coexistence measures to intermediate between ISO 20022 messages and MTs, to ensure that banks may use the standard of their choice for transactions.

From end 2022 and for the foreseeable future, banks may use ISO 20022-based messaging and/or API frameworks to conduct payments business worldwide.

Service readiness

A new Eurozone market practice guide has been developed to specify how Eurozone ISO 20022 messages should be formed so that they interoperate well with MTs.

The new InterAct pilot service which will carry CBPR+ ISO 20022 messages will be available in September 2020, when a new pilot validation and translation solution to help implementation in the Eurozone will be released.

Throughout Q3 and Q4 2020, SWIFT will clarify how and when ancillary products (such as the Financial Crime Compliance portfolio, the Business Intelligence service etc) will add support for ISO 20022 to their existing capabilities.

Live, production versions of the pilot services will be available for use from November 2021.

There is no intended dependency, either way, between the timeline for the adoption of ISO 20022 by the bank-to-bank community and the ISO 20022 adoption programmes of Payments Market Infrastructures, including the Eurosystem’s Target 2, the Bank of England’s New Payments Platform and the Fedwire and CHIPS services in the US.

Standards specifications

The first two collections of CBPR+ usage guidelines (phases 1 and 2) have been published on MyStandards. Further usage guidelines will be developed through the second half of 2020, as new ISO 20022 message definitions and CBPR+ usage guidelines to support charges, exceptions and investigations are finalised.

In March of 2021, the specifications of ISO 20022-based APIs to support approved business flows and actions will be published.

Customer adoption

Familiarisation, training, design and implementation planning are already underway at some institutions. We are expecting the majority to begin the training, education, design and implementation planning of their ISO 20022 programmes from late Q1 of 2021, and will provide support for testing, including “sparring partner” facilitation, from Q3 of 2021.

Read more about our Customer Adoption support framework here.

Next steps

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.

Access Adoption Guide

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.


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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