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Prioritising effort for MT Standards Release 2020

In recognition of the operational stresses that the Covid-19 pandemic is putting on the global financial community, and especially on smaller institutions therein, SWIFT has decided to prioritise for 22 November 2020 only the MT Category 5 (Securities Markets) messages, which are required to enable compliance with forthcoming European regulations, Central Securities Depository Regulation (CSDR) and Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD) II.

All other changes that were originally planned for 2020 (excluding Category 5), in addition to any new changes agreed in the forthcoming SR 2021 maintenance cycle, will be activated in November 2021, with Test & Training capabilities available from July 2021.

The changes on the MT Standards are summarised in the table beside. Details are available in the Standards Release Guide. More information on Universal Confirmations can be found at the bottom of this page. Frequently asked questions are bundled in an FAQ document.

Changes by Message Category Status
Category 1 – Customer Payments and Cheques To be activated in November 2021
Category 2 – Financial Institution Transfer To be activated in November 2021
Category 3 – Foreign Exchange, Money Market and Derivatives To be activated in November 2021
Category 4 – Collections and Cash Letters No changes
Category 5 – Securities Markets Implementation November 22nd 2020
Category 6 – Commodities and Reference Data To be activated in November 2021
Category 7 – Documentary Credits and Guarantees/Standby Letters of Credit To be activated in November 2021
Category 8 – Travellers Cheques No changes
Category 9 – Cash Management and Customer Status To be activated in November 2021
Category n – Common Group Messages No changes

Managing MT and MX releases

We continually work to keep our existing standards up to date, in order to bring standards in line with business changes and correct technical issues.

Standard MT Release 2021 - Business highlights

The annual MT Standards release ensures that the message types (MTs) exchanged by SWIFT users remain suitable for the business areas in which they are used, by enabling new business functionality and compliance with changing regulations.

Learn more about high level, business information related to the changes made to MT messages as part of Standards Release 2021 (SR 2021).

Standards MT Release 2018 and 2021 - prepare for major changes related to Category 7 messages

A significant upgrade to Documentary Credits messages was performed in November 2018 as part of the continuous improvement of our standards.

Another upgrade, to the Guarantees/Standby LCs message, is now planned for November 2021 (was deferred from 2019).

In addition to the above changes, we have also published the new MT 798 Trade Guidelines for corporate-to-bank communication V 5.2.3 of 5 June 2020.

To ensure the community is aware of the upcoming changes in SR 2021 and MT 798, SWIFT Standards has organized:

  • Webinar sessions in the course of June 2018. The collateral used, slides, FAQ document and recording of the webinars are available here.
  • Webinar sessions in the course of November 2019, covering SR 2021, slides and FAQ available.

Free format options for fields 50 and 59 will not be removed in MT

During SR 2019 discussion, a change request submitted by the Payments Market Practice Group was accepted to no longer enforce format option F in MT party fields, but to enforce it when migrating to ISO 20022. ISO 20022 messages allow for more granular structure than the format option F in MT.

Screening the name and address of the ordering customer (payer) and beneficiary (payee) against sanctions lists is required to comply with AML and anti-terrorist financing regulations. Being able to distinguish the different parts of name and address in a structured way is required for handling banks to properly perform screening against sanctions lists issued by various authorities.

Structuring underlying customer data has far-reaching consequences for banks’ payment processing systems and requires a multiyear effort. Banks must therefore continue their efforts in gathering the necessary input to update their systems. 

Universal payment confirmations

As of 22 November 2020, FIN customers in the Supervised Financial Institution (SUPE) and Payment System Participant (PSPA) user categories that receive MT 103 must provide a “Confirmation” on the outcome of a customer payment (MT 103) to the Tracker (TRCKCHZZ) when funds got credited to the account of the beneficiary customer or when the payment was rejected.

A confirmation is expected within maximum 2 business days following the payments’ value date. This will enable enhanced transparency, richer information, and superior user experience across the end-to-end payment processing chain and to the benefit of all financial institutions.

SWIFT is developing a range of manual and automated solutions to support customers in the implementation of mandatory ‘universal confirmations.' for MT 103.

Universal payment confirmations are still planned to be rolled out as from 22 November 2020 for all FIN users as documented in the FIN Service Description, section 21 – Universal Confirmations. However, counterparties of adherence by non-gpi banks will be deferred by 6 months and will commence on 1 June 2021.

More information and rulebook available via

SWIFT gpi | confirmation

Want to read more about payment confirmations?

Universal confirmations - all you need to know