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For Paul Tawel, senior manager of treasury operations at Canadian National Railway (CN), the solution was SWIFT but the obstacle was scale. The Montreal-based freight carrier, which was privatized in the 1990s and had C$10 billion (U.S. $9.8 billion) in 2011 revenue, needed to escape the inefficiency of using 12 separate online banking platforms to get reports and send payments. But Tawel couldn’t justify the cost of joining SWIFT, the cooperative that provides financial messaging for banks, to get a common communications platform for the company’s 12 banks.

Building a SWIFT infrastructure in-house was out of the question, and even using a service bureau was too expensive for CN’s modest but real needs. “When we heard that SWIFT would be open to corporate members several years ago, we were interested,” Tawel says. “But the solutions then were built for companies that used more banks and had more message traffic than we did.” 

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