Everything You Need to Know About ISO20022 – Fintech News

The need for faster payment systems is growing by the day. Studies by the Clearing House (THC) discuss how real-time disbursements accounted for nearly 17% of all disbursements made in 2021, up from just 5.7% in 2020. The same study states that these real-time payments will double in 2022. Financial institutions are already adopting technologies that support faster, cheaper, and more secure transfers to adapt to consumer needs. They are partnering with reliable third-party technology and service providers to embrace the latest processes for this digital transformation. However, the efficiency of these processes is bound to take a hit as more and more technology and partners are added to the already complicated financial market infrastructure. 

Without effective communication between all partners, the whole structure crumbles down faster than a deck of cards. This is where ISO20022 comes into the picture, the idea of having a singular language for financial institutions to standardize communication across various functions.

What is ISO20022?

ISO20022 is a governance structure that acts as a data dictionary (repository) to provide rules on how to develop messages and documentation for interinstitutional contact.

Let’s simplify this definition further. Here’s what ISO20022 does:

  • It describes messages, elements, and characteristics of financial transfers
  • It contains descriptions of business processes
  • It serves as means to convey messages and data details effectively with minimal translation

In simpler terms, ISO20022 is a global standard language for financial institutions to send electronic messages to each other.


Why Do We Need ISO20022 and SWIFT?

The number of participants in modern-day financial systems increases due to enhanced interconnectivity. More and more participants and payment methods shift to use the latest open banking structures. More global participants call for an international language that is easy to understand and helps financial institutions communicate effectively without the need for translation. To facilitate this accessible and standardized message format, these institutions have used SWIFT up till now. However, SWIFT had its limitations. So, ISO20022 was introduced to make room for upgrades without compromising communication effectiveness.

The ISO20022 covers the following facets of financial transfers:

  • Trade
  • Cards
  • Payments
  • Securities
  • FX (Foreign Exchange)

SWIFT predicts that over 79% of all high-value transactions on reserve currencies will follow the ISO20022 vocabulary by 2023. Some countries like Japan, Switzerland, and China have already migrated to the new standard, while others are actively doing so to meet the November 2022 deadline. This new standard will apply to all types of ACH, real-time, high-value, domestic, and cross-border payment transactions. 


Top Benefits of ISO20022

  • Payments Automation: Automation processes that rely on context-sensitive data offered by ISO20022 will contain extended remittance information and structured data. This additional data will further enhance payments automation’s reliability with straight-through processing. Nacha-certified payments automation partners will act as reliable third-party service providers to help organizations with the latest innovations in the payments industry.
  • Streamline Treasury Functions and Processes: The Federal Reserve bank will communicate more effectively with other private and national banks on a standard platform.
  • Eliminating the Need for Host to Host Connections: New standardization will eliminate the need for individual hosts to host connections between banks and foster interoperability and efficiency.
  • Feedback and Payment Tracking Systems: ISO20022 will adopt the best parts of the SWIFT nomenclature to offer the location and fee information of international transfers. 
  • Enhanced Security: Adopting a singular streamlined language will also increase compliance and regulation. With richer data, businesses will identify and act against fraud much faster.
  • Increased Flexibility: The ISO20022 payment messages have room for improvement and flexibility. This new standard can adapt faster to the current messaging standards and be more responsive to changes brought forth by financial innovations.  
  • Process Multiple Payment Methods: Within our country, the U.S. wire payment system (CHIPS and Fedwire), the U.S. ACH network, the THC RTP network, and FedNow will leverage the new standards. Learn more about FedNow (which is set to launch by 2023). 

Moreover, ISO20022 will likely remain in a constant development phase for the next few years to build additional functionalities. 


What are the Different Types of ISO20022 Message Names?

The payment data on ISO20022 is classified primarily into three different categories: Customer to Bank, Bank to Bank, and Bank to Customer. The standardization aims to reduce clutter while increasing the information within the network with adequate early-on segregation. Such segregation will help all participants easily identify the type and flow of transactions within the network. It will also help with transparent communication between financial institutions and support third-party service providers to assist with payment automation. Here are the most common payment message formats that partners will use to send and receive information accurately.

Customer to Bank (Initiation)

  • Payment initiation messages (pain.001)
  • Remittance messages (remt.001 and remt.002)
  • Request for payment (pain.013)

Bank to Bank (Clearing and Settlement)

  • Bank to bank messages (pacs.008)

Bank to Customer (Reporting)

  • Cash management, reporting, and status messages (camt.xxx (various))
  • Remittance messages (remt.001 and remt.002)


Final Thoughts

ISO20022 will make our financial services more information-dense. It will leverage the latest payment innovations and bring them to the same platform as the traditional systems to increase clarity in communication. The ISO20022 standard will make international money transfers faster and more secure with seamless communication in global payments systems. Financial institutions across the globe have until November 2022 to complete their adoption of ISO20022. Luckily, they do not need to go through the entire process alone. Instead, they can partner with reliable third-party service providers in the payment industry to complete the adoption process while complying with the latest norms. If you are a financial institution that needs help with ISO20022 migration, reach out to us today.


Date originally published: June 09, 2022 

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