The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication is converting its suite of data dictionaries into file-based directories on the Web, to deliver information financial firms can quickly access to make accurate payments.

The new SWIFTRef family of products – to be launched in January -- will allow financial firms to select across SWIFT's range of directory services for relevant files and feeds, which will be stored on servers accessible online.

“The data will be more complete than before and financial firms can make the necessary queries online and via ... web calls rather than having to download entire files to their back office systems,” says Patrik Neutjens, head of reference data at SWIFT, the La Hulpe, Belgium, organization which operates a popular messaging network.

SWIFT estimates that manually correctly the details of errors in payment information cost financial firms between 20 and 40 euros  per error.

The problem results in millions of euros potentially lost each day. "The issue of poor reference data is only getting worse because of the sheer increase in global payments being made,” says Neutjens “This is why only an industry-driven initiative and contribution can help the financial community."

The service is aimed at over 3,500 banks, corporations, payment processors, payment system providers and outsourcing. SWIFT’s database, to be updated daily, will consist of a number of source files and linked to each other through metadata. The platform will be hosted in a cloud environment allowing customers to get requested information almost as soon as it is posted. Customers can consume the specific data they need and can subscribe to the format and channel.

Included under the SWIFTRef banner, will be SWIFT's new standing settlement instructions database, and information on how firms can route payments through the Single European Payment Area (SEPA) SWIFT will also build links to a new proposed utility to store legal entity identifiers or LEIs.

The Securities Industry Financial Markets Association, the U.S. broker-dealer trade group, and other industry groups have recommended that SWIFT be selected by the newly created Office of Financial Research to create LEIs as the new industry standard for identifying trading counterparties.

 This article first appeared on the Securities Technology Monitor web site.

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