B2B Payments

ACI Worldwide Exec Warns APIs, ISO 20022 'Completely Incompatible'

Payments messaging firm SWIFT announced Thursday (April 4) the establishment of an ISO 20022 working group to promote adoption of the payments messaging standard. But as the financial services industry embraces ISO 20022, the market is also shifting toward an open banking model and API adoption — two trends an ACI Worldwide executive warns are incompatible.

Reports in bobsguide on Thursday said ACI Head of Real-Time Payments Craig Ramsey spoke at an industry conference in the U.K. this week, warning of the conflicting initiatives.

"APIs and ISO 20022 are actually completely incompatible with one another," he said, according to reports. "You wouldn't want modern, agile API using ISO 20022 standards because [the standard] is too thick and too heavy. It's a very heavy weight message to be moving around for a nimble and agile API."

The publication noted SWIFT's recent consultation paper, released last year, that notes the ISO 20022 standard is "designed to adapt to new technologies as they emerge, and can be applied to APIs and other technologies to ensure end-to-end consistency of business processes."

He added that corporates and small businesses are driving the shift toward open banking.

"We see a transformational shift going on at the moment," he said. "Even SMEs wanting access to a bank's terminal, to a place the FinTech provides the SME a broad range of services, including access to the bank or, more likely, the banks, that the SME works with.

"We will see an evolution of APIs," he continued, adding that corporates should approach their financial institutions to accelerate bank adoption of SWIFT gpi.

Previous reports revealed SWIFT is establishing a working group of payments industry experts and players to guide the market in adoption of the ISO 20022 standard, which aims to accelerate cross-border payments by promoting standardization of payments messaging between corresponding banks.

"Our mission is to standardize business and operational interaction as much as possible, rendering a seamless service that banks can offer competitively to their clients," said SWIFT head of banking Harry Newman in a statement.

Some financial services firms have found a connection between APIs and the ISO 20022 standard. In 2017, TreasuryXpress launched its API, Payment+, which converts system data within ERP or treasury management platforms into payments under the ISO 20022 messaging format.

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