SWIFT has come a long way in its 38-year history. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication was initially conceived as a way to enable its members to communicate securely with each other and to replace the old Telex technology. The member-owned cooperative began opening up its services to corporate users in 1997 and now offers several options for companies to connect to its network: directly to SWIFT, via a SWIFT service bureau or with Alliance Lite. Today, 841 corporations use SWIFT and while they have been attracted by the efficiencies and cost savings offered by a standard means of connecting to multiple banks, SWIFT’s services for corporates continue to evolve beyond sending payment messages.
Companies are closely watching SWIFT’s recent move into electronic bank account management (eBAM), an industry-wide initiative to automate the paper-based processes associated with managing bank accounts. EBAM solutions are also intended to serve as a database for signatory information—an area currently riddled with inefficiencies for many companies.