Enhancing cross-border payments in the ISO 20022 era

ISO 20022 messaging standard revolutionizes the way financial data is exchanged.

Published on: September 12, 2023

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3 min read

The global financial landscape is evolving rapidly, with digital technologies and innovative standards reshaping how financial institutions conduct cross-border transactions. One such transformative development is the ISO 20022 messaging standard, which is revolutionizing the way financial data is exchanged. Alongside this, the Cross-Border Payments and Reporting Plus (CBPR+) initiative introduced by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and other regulatory bodies is striving to enhance cross-border payments. However, with the transformative power of ISO 20022, a pertinent question arises: Will this global standard replace SWIFT, the long-established messaging network used for cross-border transactions? The relationship between ISO 20022 and SWIFT is more nuanced than a simple yes or no. In this blog, we'll explore the significance of CBPR+ and its synergy with ISO 20022 and the relationship between ISO 20022 and SWIFT. 

Understanding CBPR+.

CBPR+ is a comprehensive initiative that aims to address the longstanding challenges associated with cross-border payments. It focuses on four key pillars: addressing frictions, increasing speed, enhancing access and inclusivity, and improving transparency and traceability. By streamlining procedures, leveraging innovative technologies, and fostering inclusivity, CBPR+ seeks to enhance the end-to-end cross-border payment experience. 

Integration with ISO 20022.

ISO 20022 serves as the messaging standard that enables enriched data capabilities crucial for transparent and efficient cross-border transactions. By adopting ISO 20022, financial institutions can convey more information in payment messages, including remittance details, fees, and transaction status. This fosters better end-to-end visibility, automated reconciliation, and improved compliance with regulatory requirements. 

The synergy.

CBPR+ and ISO 20022: CBPR+ and ISO 20022 complement each other in their pursuit of enhancing cross-border payments. While CBPR+ addresses the broader challenges and initiatives for improving the overall cross-border payment landscape, ISO 20022 provides the messaging foundation that enables enriched data, traceability, and transparency in these transactions. Together, they unlock the full potential of cross-border payments, fostering a more efficient, inclusive, and transparent ecosystem. 

A collaborative future.

The collaboration between CBPR+ and ISO 20022 paves the way for a more cooperative future in finance. As financial institutions embrace ISO 20022 messaging standards and CBPR+ principles, cross-border payments will become more seamless, accessible, and cost-effective. This combined power sets the stage for a transformative shift in cross-border payments, creating new opportunities for financial inclusion and innovation on a global scale. 

Will ISO 20022 replace SWIFT? A closer look at the relationship.

As the financial world embraces the transformative power of ISO 20022, a pertinent question arises: Will this global standard replace SWIFT, the long-established messaging network used for cross-border transactions?  

As previously discussed, ISO 20022 is a universal messaging standard that facilitates seamless communication across financial systems by defining a common language for financial data exchange. On the other hand, SWIFT is a secure messaging network that has been an essential part of the global financial infrastructure for decades, enabling financial institutions to send and receive messages related to cross-border payments and securities transactions. 

ISO 20022 and SWIFT serve different purposes and can be seen as complementary rather than replacements. ISO 20022 enhances the content and structure of financial messages, providing enriched data that improves transaction efficiency and transparency. Meanwhile, SWIFT acts as the communication infrastructure that facilitates the transmission of ISO 20022 messages among financial institutions. 

Recognizing the significance of ISO 20022, SWIFT has taken steps to support its adoption across the financial industry. Initiatives like the "ISO 20022 Harmonization Charter" encourage SWIFT's community to embrace ISO 20022 messaging standards gradually. This ensures a smooth transition for financial institutions while leveraging SWIFT's robust network. 


CBPR+ and ISO 20022 are interconnected initiatives that drive the evolution of cross-border payments. By addressing challenges, enabling enriched data capabilities, and enhancing transparency, efficiency, and inclusivity, they shape a new era of cross-border payments. The future of cross-border transactions lies in this collaborative approach, where speed, transparency, and accessibility define the global financial landscape. Additionally, the future of ISO 20022 entails collaboration and coexistence between ISO 20022 and SWIFT. As financial institutions transition to ISO 20022, they can continue leveraging SWIFT's secure infrastructure for seamless cross-border transactions, ensuring global interoperability and connectivity.

five°degrees helps its customers navigate through the complexities. 

As a leading provider of innovative software solutions for the financial industry, five°degrees plays a pivotal role in enabling financial institutions to embrace and integrate ISO 20022 messaging standards.

By choosing five°degrees, you're choosing a partner dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of modern finance, ensuring you stay competitive and compliant in this transformative era of cross-border transactions. 

Want to learn more about ISO 20022?

Take a look at our blog about the transformative impact of ISO 20022 and cloud-native core banking.

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