When you're the deputy treasurer for a company as big and spread out as General Electric Co.–$164 billion in annual revenue and over 17,000 accounts at 200 banks in 110 countries–you simply have to push for a solution that can simplify, standardize and automate payments, cash flow and bank communication. And for years, that's exactly what Dennis Sweeney did–with any bank or multinational that would listen. Finally, Sweeney and his counterparts at a few large European companies got the ear of the ultimate bankers-only club, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). With a secure and reliable global messaging system, banks had simplified their own inter-network communications years earlier, and now it is the corporates' turn.

With GE in the lead, large multinationals have gained direct access to SWIFT through its new Standardized CORporate Environment, or SCORE. In fact, SWIFT is now rapidly redesigning products and services to make them corporate-friendly. But is Sweeney satisfied? Not yet. He and the Fairfield, Conn.-based industrial and financial giant still have not reached their ultimate goal–total straight through processing of any payment, at any time, to anywhere. "It has taken time, but we've made progress," Sweeney points out. "There are still a number of initiatives under way that promise to bring important operational efficiencies."

Sweeney's next target? GE's deputy treasurer has his sights fixed on greater acceptance of SCORE and greater refinement and adoption of new XML messages (ISO 20022 format) by banks. "We want to deploy this connection to more banks around the world, and we want to expand our bank communication beyond payments and balance reporting into things like the Bank Billing Standard being promoted by TWIST, account openings and other financial messages," Sweeney says.

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