The evolution of ISO 20022: Simplifying payments across the globe

Ben Riley
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2 mins read

Table of contents

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Over the past 25 years, the world of finance has seen continuous evolution, with ISO 20022 emerging as a pivotal standard in global payment messaging systems. ISO 20022 is revolutionising payment messages by offering enhanced data capabilities, streamlined payments, and improved efficiency. However, achieving a successful transition requires organisations to navigate substantial complexity challenges.

Why ISO 20022?

Over 80% of high-value transactions globally now rely on ISO 20022. This standard is not confined to a single region, with over 70 countries adopting it to enhance the speed and efficiency of cross-border payments. Imagine a world where global financial systems communicate seamlessly – that’s the promise of ISO 20022.

The infographic below highlights some of the key organisational challenges posed by the global migration to ISO 20022.

The Evolution of ISO20022 Infographic - Curiosity

The challenges of implementing ISO 20022

ISO 20022 is continuously evolving, which means financial institutions need to keep up with ongoing updates and retesting. With numerous parties involved, managing this complexity becomes a significant challenge.

The richness of data fields and the required level of detail necessitate rigorous validation processes. Think of it as a meticulous chef continuously perfecting a complex recipe, ensuring every ingredient (or data point) is precise and accurate. This requires expertise, time, and investment. 

The modern payment landscape features various message types, such as MEPS and SWIFT, each with its own nuances. Implementing a universal standard like ISO 20022 across these diverse systems is a significant challenge. It’s akin to ensuring seamless communication at a massive international conference where everyone speaks different languages.

This transformation is not just about adoption, it's about ensuring these systems interact flawlessly worldwide.

ISO 20022 data variety and volume

ISO 20022 data is both extensive and complex, encompassing a vast volume of information and diverse data types that require thorough testing for accurate processing without errors. A mistake can incur significant costs in time, money, and effort to rectify, impacting thousands of payments. A critical consideration when dealing with trillions of dollars.

To put it into perspective:

  • 450 different message types.

  • 18% of payment instructions use ISO.

  • $1.8 Trillion processed daily by CHIPS migration, involving over five-hundred thousand payments. 

These numbers highlight the sheer scale and impact of ISO 20022 in today’s financial ecosystem. Each ISO 20022 message type comes with its own complexities and data relationships. Ensuring that requirements are accurately defined and understood for each business case is therefore incredibly important, and managing and mitigating risk is difficult, but not impossible with the right tooling in place.

Adapting to ISO 20022

As financial institutions worldwide continue to adopt and adapt to ISO 20022, the promise of more efficient, faster, and secure transactions becomes a reality. It's a journey towards a more integrated global financial system, where the complexity of today's messaging systems gives way to the simplicity and efficiency of tomorrow's standards.

The transition to ISO 20022 isn't just a technical upgrade; it's a collaborative effort that spans across teams and companies globally. To successfully navigate this transformation, collaboration, and clear communication will be crucial. 

Book a meeting with a Curiosity expert to learn how we can help you navigate your ISO 20022 migration today!

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