New Age of Account Statements

Payment transactions from corporate customers to banks are now fully automatic and have achieved a high level of efficiency. This automation started on a national level and now with the single euro payments area (SEPA) initiative within the EU aims to carry on this goal transnational. SEPA is based on the ISO 20022 standard for payment messages.

But what´s about the return transmission – account information from bank to customers? Is there also a high level of standardisation, facilitating the corporate clients automatic processing in terms of cash management and reconciliation?

The answer is no, since it is about 30 years old and based on SWIFT format MT940 (customer statement message) and provided by the banks either directly via SWIFT or via local electronic banking (e-banking) channel. Despite MT940’s worldwide level of awareness, the content structuring is very poor.

Figure 1:
MT940 Example

Source: UniCredit

In tag :61: (statement line), apart from value date, booking date and amount, only some dedicated details are available regarding transaction type, reference to the account owner, bank reference and (limited) supplementary details.

The tag :86: (information to account owner) is only free text and makes it difficult to pick out particular content such as a counterparty within a credit transfer movement. The size of tag :86: is limited to 390 bytes and sometimes the content of a transaction has to be truncated in the account statement.

The same restrictions apply for intraday reports via MT942 (interim transaction report).

Many approaches have been initiated based on country-specific rules as well as overarching initiatives in order to structure the free text of tag :86: through dedicated identifiers. From a national perspective the result is more or less sufficient, but for an international customer it isn´t enough.

New Areas Via ISO 20022

In 2006 ISO approved (maintenance release in 2009) the ‘bank-to-customer cash management” messages:

  • Camt.052 – BankToCustomerAccountReport.
  • Camt.053 – BankToCustomerStatement.
  • Camt.054 – BankToCustomerDebitCreditNotification.

Camt.05x messages are XML-based and well structured, populating all relevant content of a transaction in dedicated structure and fields. In addition to entries, camt messages provide (optionally) information regarding the account details, interest, balances etc.

In the long run, existing message types will be substituted by the camt.05x messages.

Figure 2: Message Substitution by Camt

Source: UniCredit

 

During a transition period, banks must offer MT94x and camt.05x messages in parallel in order to allow the customers a smooth migration.

Closing the Loop

Due to progressively migrating payment formats from national standards to ISO 20022 plain format, the payment chain from step 1 (initiation) via steps 2 and 3 (clearing) is XML-based without media disruption. Only step 4 (account statement) is based on MT format.

Figure 3: XML Payment Chain with MT Message (Step 4) for Account Statement

Source: UniCredit

 

Camt.05x messages close the loop from the payment order to the statement. The entry record of referring camt messages populates the relevant content of the payment order with according structure and fields.

Figure 4:
Entry for Direct Debit (DD)in Camt.053 Bank-to-customer Statement.


Source: UniCredit

Threat due to Various Ways of Implementation

Even though camt.05x messages are clearly defined by an ISO message definition report, there is a range for different implementations using options and variants. It may be comfortable to pick out options that could easily be realised. On the customer side such behavior would be a mess and cause incalculable effort for adaption. This was experienced in the MT940/MT942 area, where proprietary rules for structuring the content were developed.

The CGI initiative strives for implementation rules based on alignments between banks, customers and vendors. The following quote is from the CGI Mission and Objective: “Achieved through consultation, collaboration and agreement on common implementation templates for relevant ISO 20022 financial messages, leading to their subsequent publication and promotion in order to attain widespread recognition and adoption.”1

Implementation of Camt.05x: A Challenge for Banks

From a technical point of view, generation of account statements is based on the account keeping and booking procedure. It is located at the end of a long process across different applications within the IT infrastructure of a bank. Many of details at the end of this process demands access to the particulars of a transaction, even these particulars are not t relevant and therefore not stored by booking procedures. In consequence, to setup camt messages, the IT architecture of a bank has to be adjusted in terms of getting access to all relevant information.

In order to provide all required transaction details in account statements, UniCredit adjusted all the interfaces carrying relevant content for camt messages. Specifically the payment systems have been improved to provide payment details. Specifically Camt.05x messages can be offered for pilot customers via the e-banking channels EBICS and SWIFTNet File Act.

Drivers for Implementation of Camt.05x on The Customer Side

The SEPA initiative will motivate international acting customers to migrate to ISO 20022 XML-based payment formats. The obligatory end date of national formats, discussed in the EU, would be the final pulse for this migration.

Implementation of XML on the payment side (customer-to-bank) will be the trigger to switch to XML also in the reverse direction, the statements from bank to customers. It´s a strategic decision which customers have to make.

Nevertheless, the effort should not be underestimated – more than technical adaptations have to be done. Customers have adjusted their cash management and reconciliation processes in accordance to the existing MT940/MT942 (the same applies for UN/EDIFACT FINSTA) messages, adapting dedicated routines for the proprietary structure from different banks and countries. They have to analyse and test how all the proprietary features will be covered by the camt.05x statements. Vendors of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are prepared and supporting this challenge. For example SAP also joined the CGI initiative in order to play an active role in this new area.

Independent of SEPA,  customer are going to benefit from XML statements.

Conclusion

Migration to camt.05x messages will be a gradual process, driven by strategic reflections on the customer side. The perimeter includes the comprehensive customer-to-bank to customer communication, starting with payment orders and closing the loop to the bank-to-customer statements. The implementation of camt.05x messages could affect the whole process chain within bank IT infrastructure in order to provide particular details on entry level.

1For more details regarding CGI refer to www.swiftcommunity.net /CGI.

 

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