From the November 2011 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine

Silver AHA Winner in Liquidity Management

Standardizing Bank Reports: Microsoft

Microsoft continues to break new ground and reap the benefits of embracing SWIFT and the newest ISO 20022 standard. By driving bank-agnostic standardization, the Redmond, Wash., company has gained better control over global cash as well as greater automation and less friction in file transfers. The $70 billion software giant launched a liquidity management project to move money among banks quicker, manage counterparty risk better and get richer data to automate payables and receivables reconciliation, auto-clearing and auto-posting. The effort has a projected ROI of 44% over three years, but savings and efficiency gains should continue beyond that. “Using a common standard opens up tremendous benefits for all parties involved,” notes George Zinn, treasurer and corporate vice president.

Last April, Microsoft, working with Bank of America and Citigroup, became the first corporation to achieve a common language for bank reports received in version two of ISO 20022 and get them through one SWIFTNet  pipe. Microsoft’s BizTalk translates the XML camt messages that come out of the SWIFT pipe into iDOC language that its SAP system can process automatically. It no longer has to deal with bank virtual private networks to get statements. Version two of the intra-day reporting and end-of-day reporting messages provides richer detail and aligns the components with the payment messages, explains Anita Prasad, general manager of U.S. treasury capital management.

With bank statement reporting wrapped up, the project will move on to channeling all wire traffic over the same single SWIFT pipe in the same ISO 20022 version two uniform format, reports Jayna Bundy, group manager of treasury operations.

Microsoft was pushing into new territory ahead of its banks, so it called them together, along with SWIFT representatives, to negotiate a consensus over exactly how version two of ISO 20022 would be implemented. “We knew that if banks implemented and used fields in their own ways, it would defeat our purpose,” Prasad says. No banks supported version two at the time, but Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch were willing to move first. Other banks will be on-boarded as they adopt the newer version, Zinn says.

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