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Neil McManus 05-Jun-2024 16:26:06 3 min read

The New Standard – ISO20022 and what it means to treasury?

ISO 20022 represents a quantum leap in the realm of financial messaging standards, distinguishing itself through a set of key features that collectively redefine how data is communicated and processed in the financial industry.

Overview of ISO 20022:

Unlike its predecessors, ISO 20022 adopts a modular and extensible approach, facilitating a more comprehensive and adaptable data model. The standard is platform-agnostic, allowing integration across various technologies and financial systems. Its flexibility is underscored by the fact that ISO 20022 can be used in a variety of financial domains, including payments, securities, trade services, cards, and foreign exchange.

Richer Data Through XML:

At the core of ISO 20022's transformative power lies the use of eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The departure from the fixed-field formats of previous standards allows for the inclusion of richer, structured data within messages. Each transaction becomes a repository of detailed information, enabling more nuanced and contextual communication between financial institutions.

Business Process Modelling:

ISO 20022 introduces a business process modelling approach, allowing for a better representation of financial processes. This means that messages are not just data containers; they also capture the business context of a transaction. This shift from a pure syntax-driven approach to a business-driven model enhances the clarity of financial messages.

Common Repository for Message Definitions:

One of the ground-breaking features of ISO 20022 is the creation of a centralised repository for message definitions. The repository, maintained by the ISO 20022 Registration Authority, serves as a global dictionary for all messages defined by the standard. Financial institutions can refer to this repository to ensure consistency and conformity in message usage, fostering a shared language for cross-border transactions.

Metadata for Enhanced Understanding:

ISO 20022 incorporates a robust metadata framework that provides additional information about the structure and purpose of messages. The metadata layer enhances the interpretability of messages, enabling financial institutions to extract more value from the data. Furthermore, the ability to attach context-specific information to messages contributes to improved analytics and reporting.

Frequent Updates and Evolution:

Recognising the dynamic nature of the financial industry, ISO 20022 is designed for continuous evolution. The standard undergoes regular updates, accommodating changes in business requirements, regulatory landscapes and technological advancements. This ensures that ISO 20022 remains not just a fixed standard but a living framework that can adapt to the evolving needs of the financial ecosystem.

Message Usage Guidelines:

To facilitate consistent implementation, ISO 20022 provides message usage guidelines that define how messages should be used in specific business contexts. The guidelines contribute to a standardised approach, reducing ambiguity and promoting interoperability between different entities in the financial value chain.

In summary, from its use of XML for richer data to its business process modelling approach and the establishment of a global message repository, the key features of ISO 20022 collectively position it as a revolutionary standard. The adaptability of the standard, coupled with its metadata framework and continuous evolution should empower financial institutions to navigate the complexities of cross-border payments with unprecedented clarity and efficiency.