The process of joining SWIFT should start with an internal cost/benefit analysis, says Bryan Kirkpatrick, vice president, senior product manager for treasury services and SWIFT expert at Bank of New York Mellon. What do you want to use SWIFT for? How much would it cost to do that? How much would you save? Some of those answers will come from talking with SWIFT sales or consulting people. Some may come from treasury peers. Together, you should be able to figure out if the business case is there.

Don't expect those triple-digit ROIs you may have heard about. Some of the earliest case studies claimed ROIs of several hundred percent, but those were special cases. Routine ROIs have now flattened out but are still attractive in many cases, says Brian Wedge, executive director and global product manager for SWIFT at J.P. Morgan Treasury Services.

When sizing up the business case for SWIFT membership, think enterprise-wide, not just about treasury. For pioneers like General Electric, the interest always went beyond treasury because GE is both a huge multinational industrial corporation and a financial institution. Both the industrial and financial segments would have reasons to join SWIFT, notes Tom Nelson, cash management specialist for Wall Street Systems, about his client. Put the two segments together and a single direct connection to serve both can make sense, he says.

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