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Swift Eases Payments Data Consumption With SwiftRef APIs

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Swift has added 12 application programming interfaces (APIs) to its SwiftRef reference data utility with a view to helping financial institutions and corporates automate payment processes by identifying and validating payments reference data in real time using information in SwiftRef.

The APIs have been piloted for 18 months and are now market ready. They cover industry identifiers including BICs, IBANs and LEIs, as well as settlement instructions and national bank codes, and allow users to check queries against the SwiftRef repository via proprietary applications. The APIs add to SwiftRef’s existing data delivery channels that include online manual look-up, manual and automated file download and secure file delivery over Swift.

Herve Valentin, head of reference data at Swift, says: “The APIs ease consumption of data, which is one of Swift’s strategic aims, and ensure payments reference data is correct. Through this approach, banks and corporates can increase operational efficiency, reduce costs and risk, and reduce time spent on errors resulting from manual repairs and investigations.”

One early user, Kimmo Veistola, manager of cash management at Finnish paper and forest products company UPM-Kymmene, says: “We implemented SwiftRef APIs for BIC and IBAN validation, which has led to a very clear workload reduction resulting from automation and higher data quality. The data quality has also reduced the turn-around time for payments.”

Swift expects corporates to be the biggest users of the APIs and, to date, a few tens of the 500 or so corporates Swift works with have implemented some of them. Large banks are not expected to use the APIs as they rely on direct access to local SwiftRef sites, but bank subsidiaries with limited payments requirements may favour the API approach above implementing a local SwiftRef data centre.

Looking forward, Valentin says Swift will continue to extend SwiftRef with the addition of new directories. Entity Plus, a directory designed to support regulatory reporting by providing a consistent view of entities by cross-referencing identifiers including BICs, LEIs and GIINs, will be available in the next couple of months. In a second phase of development, the directory will be enriched with entity hierarchy and ownership data to support regulatory compliance and risk management.

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