Vodafone, an international mobile telecommunications group, has completed a migration project to outsource its SWIFT connectivity to a hybrid service bureau from SMA Financial. Vodafone achieved its goals to minimise operational risk, reduce the cost of processing payments and to future proof and leverage its SWIFT environment.
Vodafone previously operated and supported its own SWIFT infrastructure, however Fraser Lee, treasury systems manager, Vodafone, explained the decision to outsource: “We identified that using a service bureau would enable us to more efficiently manage the high value payments that we process. We had a key requirement to maintain a direct relationship with SWIFT, as well as retain a significant degree of control over the hardware infrastructure. Fortunately we were able to work with a flexible supplier such as SMA Financial in implementing a hybrid SWIFT service bureau.”
The service bureau went live on schedule to support Vodafone’s critical payments business. The process of switching over from Vodafone’s in-house infrastructure to the hybrid bureau was successfully completed with no interruption to service availability for Vodafone’s business users. Vodafone receives bank statements as MT940 SWIFT messages and can initiate payments from its treasury system to relationship banks via the Bureau. Vodafone can also confirm foreign exchange (FX) and money market deals in an automated environment.
The project achieved and exceeded the original targets and the benefits include:
- Increased payments automation resulting in higher rates of straight-through processing (STP) and lower operational risk.
- Reduced investigation times for exceptions.
- A cut in the cost per transaction.
- Consolidated multiple communication channels onto a single platform.
The service bureau ensures that Vodafone can leverage its SWIFT capabilities into other business areas and there are plans to explore using the bureau for continuous linked settlement (CLS), money market funds (MMFs) and tri-party repos. This will allow future rationalisation of systems by maximising the use of SWIFT, while minimising the risks involved as the relevant functionality already exists within the bureau.
Migrating to a bureau has a number of additional benefits, as Fraser explained: “We have eliminated the effort required to keep our infrastructure up to date while maintaining control over the SWIFT environment. The hybrid approach maintains the feel of the in-house system but now our infrastructure is operated and supported by SWIFT experts in a highly secure environment. Additionally, this has freed up resources to concentrate on other value added activity for Vodafone.”
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