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SWIFT Makes Web Services Push

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) continued its XML-based Web services push with the announcement Monday of partnerships that will allow its 7,000 financial institutions to link payment processes.

The La Hulpe, Belgium-based financial services industry group said it struck a deal to use webMethods' integration software to tie financial institutions to their corporate customers through an online payment system. SWIFT also struck a deal with Cape Clear Software to provide closed user groups for banks and their customers, beginning with an XML application for cash reporting.

The two partnerships are part of the financial services industry's endorsement of XML Web services, as the company migrates its customers from its current X.25-based network to SWIFTNet, an IP network using XML. In early August, SWIFT announced an alliance with another Web services integration company, IONA, to promote messaging standard proposals and technical guidelines

The webMethods partnership is designed to allow banks using the SWIFT network to retool the payment process, which currently uses a combination of electronic and manual processes to put through transactions. Through webMethods' applications, banks will be able to connect with their customers' back-end systems, allowing corporate customers to link their bill-payment systems with their supply chain management and back-end ERP systems.

"By combining strengths with webMethods, financial institutions now have a tremendously valuable service offering for integrated payments initiation with their corporate customers," Johan Kestens, head of new business development at SWIFT, said in a statement.

Cape Clear said it will provide SWIFT members with the means to use SWIFT as a true Web service, linking its applications with those of other members through Web services standards like XML, SOAP and UDDI.

"The traditional means of integrating applications is difficult, proprietary, expensive, and time-consuming," David Clarke, executive vice president at Cape Clear, said in a statement. "The ability of Web services to radically alter the economics of integration, while still solving the same problems, is a powerful proposition."

SWIFT provides a messaging standard and value added network (VAN) to 7,400 financial institutions for payment processing, treasury, securities and trade services between banks, brokers, market utilities and service providers. The group estimates its network carries more than $6 trillion worth of payment messages every day.

In late November, SWIFT will complete its one-year implementation of its new XML messaging standard, ISO 15022, which replaces two earlier standards for communications between industry members, ISO 7775 and ISO 11521.

ISO 15022 messages are billed as easier to use and more flexible, giving banks and their clients more functionality and capacity.