15th Oct 2021

Connecting to the SWIFT Network: the Build or Buy Debate

To build, or not to build – that is the question.

To support a more flexible, agile approach to their banking processes, large businesses often look to replace their decentralised, manual online banking processes with fully integrated SWIFT connectivity across their shared service centres and payments factories.

But before choosing to partner with AccessPay, a debate needs to be settled: do you build or buy connectivity to the SWIFT network?

Let’s get ready to rumble.

The Build Argument

The first option for corporates looking to use SWIFT or its gpi tracking service is to build your own internal system to handle SWIFT messages.

The core benefit to this is total ownership and transparency of payment messages. But it does come with a very real set of challenges.

  • Knowledge – An in-house build does not simply involve an integration between internal systems and SWIFT – there is a thorough application of business rules and processes to consider first. Its imperative to have an understanding of the collection of SWIFT MTs and gpi messages – and an awareness of an additional 10 or more gpi statuses which indicate where a payment is in its lifecycle.
  • Compliance – Custom builds must be updated every year to comply with the annual SWIFT standards release. Then there is the challenge of migrating all messages to ISO 20022 by the end of 2022.
  • Investment – Last but not least, connectivity from legacy systems to the SWIFT network do not come without significant cost, as well as heavy investment in time and resource from IT, Treasury, Finance and other areas of the business to turn your custom build in to a reality. It is also frequently these very legacy systems that are hindering adoption of new technologies such as SWIFT gpi.

“We ruled out an on-premise gateway for swift due to it being too resource intensive and heavy security requirements around the SWIFT audit.” Chris Davies, NSG Pilkington


Outsourcing to a SWIFT Bureau

At the other end of the spectrum, there is the option to outsource completely to a SWIFT Bureau.

The main benefit here is the reduction in manual intervention and back office processes, as the third party will take care of message reconciliation on your behalf, only sending back the final message.

But the reality is that Swift bureaus are costly and are typically only a viable option for tier one banks dealing in very high volumes of financial messages.

“We also ruled out a SWIFT bureau because of expense and wanting to retain some control over the system with our own BIC” Chris Davies, NSG Pilkington

Looking to Vendor Partnerships

For the majority of corporates, the most logical solution lies in working with technology providers like AccessPay to augment both cloud and legacy systems with a “plug and play” SWIFT solution.

AccessPay is the UK’s 1st SWIFT Alliance Lite 2 provider, providing a fast, cost efficient way to insulate existing business systems, whilst also giving corporates the control and transparency they need over their payments processes.

Compared to building a solution in-house, speed to value goes through the roof. With set up times taking weeks, not months.

“It made sense for us to look towards buying a ready-made solution to cut down the amount of time it’d take for us to start seeing the benefits, so quite quickly we decided to review the market.” Chris Davies, NSG Pilkington

Not to mention the reduction in on-going maintenance costs, as any updates and migrations are handled by vendors like ourselves.

But one of the biggest benefits to using third party vendors like AccessPay lies in addressing the knowledge gap between corporates and banks.

For example, at AccessPay, we provide full assistance with your compliance in SWIFT’s Customer Security Programme during onboarding and eliminate the need for regular auditing – which wouldn’t be the case if you were to build your own solution. This is all served with AccessPay’s signature service.

What’s more, we’re future-proofing the way in which organisations are handling compliance to changes like the new ISO 20022 messaging standard, with AccessPay acting as a file-agnostic platform that automatically transforms messages to the correct format on behalf of the corporate client.

ISO 20022 is a huge operational change for anyone looking to connect to SWIFT, so unless you have significant resource available to invest in researching and complying with the new messaging standards, choosing a SWIFT vendor is a wise investment.

NSG Group Chose AccessPay’s SWIFT Solution

A few years ago, global manufacturer NSG Group came to us with a cash visibility issue.

Much like we described earlier, their large-scale banking processes called for a SWIFT solution that boosted productivity, sped up payments, and helped with audit regulations.

By helping position NSG Group at the cutting edge of technology, AccessPay not only helped to greatly streamline their workflow, but allowed them to adopt to a modernising workflow. In the face of the pandemic, the automation of their operation removed the need for in-person paper authorisation and allowed employees to more effectively work from home.


What’s the Best Option for Connecting to the SWIFT Network?

Ultimately, it’s your choice.

Building your own internal system is replete with advantages, but ultimately relies upon in-house expertise, a navigation of the ever-changing landscape of financial compliance, and the cost associated with connecting your legacy systems.

Choosing to outsource SWIFT certainly frees up your team’s time, requiring little manual intervention, but is typically the most expensive – and therefore inaccessible – option.

Turning to a technology provider like AccessPay is the most outwardly appealing option, unbuckling you from the time and talent pressures of building your own and drastically mitigating the cost associated with outsourcing.

All in all, the current pace of transformation across the industry is intense, with changing standards, migrations and payment types being introduced. Whatever method you choose to connect to SWIFT, the technology you have needs to respond quickly to allow you to take advantage of future payments innovation.

Check out the full webinar with NSG Pilkington: