New Cash Reporting Standard

BTRS overhauls BAI-2 format, adds more uniformity and global capability.

A new standard for cash management reporting is coming that will streamline communications between banks and corporations, and provide greater uniformity, global capabilities and better interoperability with back-office systems, supporters say.

The X9 Accredited Standards Committee of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is nearing the end of its two-year effort to upgrade and expand the BAI-2 format, last updated 10 years ago and widely used for reporting account balances, transactions, lockbox details and controlled disbursement details. X9 expects to publish the new standard, known as the Balance and Transaction Reporting Standard (BTRS) in the first quarter of 2012.

BTRS “is a major standard that will impact corporations” says David Repking, senior product manager at J.P. Morgan Treasury Services, who chaired the X9 Codes Working Group.

BTRS addresses a laundry list of problems with BAI-2, including too much variation from bank to bank that required manual intervention, says John Scully, head of Information Reporting Services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and co-chair of the Language of the Standard Subgroup. “It lacked global capability,” Scully says. “BTRS makes BAI truly global.”

Certain transactions have faded from the scene, while others, like SEPA, have come into play, says Repking. “The BTRS code is interoperable with the ISO 20022 global codes, as well as the SWIFT MT cash reporting messages,” he says. The new standard also accommodates double-byte characters used in Russia, the Middle East and Asia.

“By harmonizing the inconsistencies in the previous two versions, we are creating a common language for corporate treasurers and their banking partners,” says James Wills, senior business manager at SWIFT, which was invited to join X9.

In addition to multilingual, multicurrency transactions, BTRS supports new batch and invoice records that corporations need for increasingly complex reconciliations.

BTRS also maps to the new wire transfer message format, Customer Transfer Plus (CTP), from the Federal Reserve Banks and the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS), which will accommodate up to 9,000 characters of extended remittance information, beginning Nov. 19.

The copyright ownership of the BAI format was transferred from the Bank Administration Institute (BAI) to the Accredited Standards Committee X9, which came up with the new name and will be responsible for updating the new BTRS standard.





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