The vision outlined above has now become reality and, with the recent launch of the ISO 20022 electronic billing (e-billing) statement standard, all these facilities and more are at the treasurer’s fingertips.
The story of the new standard and its predecessors began in the early 1990s with the advent of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 822 e-billing standard. At the urging of major US corporations and with the help of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) – at that time still known as the National Corporate Cash Management Association (NCCMA) – the 822 standard was developed. As a growing number of banks began to offer the 822 e-billing statement, more and more corporations of all sizes came to realise the benefits – the same benefits mentioned above.
Today every national bank operating in the US and all US regional commercial banks offer the 822. Over 1,000 corporations now receive and use the 822 and have experienced major cost savings and analytic benefits. The success of the 822 in the US provides a dramatic ‘proof of concept’ of electronic bank billing statements for commercial accounts.
However, what about offshore accounts? The 822 is a US ANSI standard. Companies accustomed to the US standards were disappointed to learn that e-billing statements in a standard format do not exist outside the US.
In early 2002, flushed with the success of the 822, General Electric (GE) and a large group of major US corporations urged their offshore banks to produce electronic bank statements in a standard format. But the question arose: what standard to use?
The US 822 proved insufficient because it could not accommodate taxes and/or multiple currencies and it also dealt exclusively with US services. The London-based electronic standards development group Transaction Workstation International Standards Team (TWIST) agreed to develop the new global standard along with a group of corporations, bankers, and technicians. The end result was the TWIST BSB bank services billing standard, introduced in October, 2006. This was a new extensible markup language (XML) global standard, which embraced all the data content of the 822 with the addition of tax and multiple currency data. Had we now arrived? Not quite yet as it happened.
Adoption of the TWIST BSB standard by international banks and corporations was slow. The new standard lacked the ability to provide a common service identification which could relate the same logical domestic and foreign services to each other. There were also worries about TWIST’s ability to provide the necessary resources to maintain and expand the standard over time.
As adoption slowed, TWIST and a group of concerned corporations and banks contacted SWIFT, the AFP and the International Standards Organisation (ISO). SWIFT saw the use of a permanent e-billing standard for inter- bank billing and use of the SWIFT network for bank-to-corporate billing transmissions. AFP saw the need to develop a new, global common service identification standard in addition to their US standard, and ISO agreed to put their worthy and honoured stamp on a new BSB standard. The stage was now set.
In 2010 a group of bankers, corporations, SWIFT and ISO came together to enhance and assume ownership of the modified TWIST BSB standard. The AFP developed a new set of common, global service codes to be used in the new standard. Now, following two years of development, the new ISO 20022 BSB global electronic statement standard, known as ‘camt.086’, is fully documented and available on the ISO web page.
The new standard is globally useable, features the
AFP global service codes
and bears the ISO stamp of approval. The question no longer is ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have?’, but rather ‘which of my banks are committed to the BSB?’ and ‘when can I expect to receive it?”.
According to a survey carried out by TWIST in late 2012, there are 12 banks live with the TWIST BSB, as well as an additional 11 banks in initial or additional development of the BSB, now the new ISO BSB. Eight of these banks expect to offer the ISO BSB within the coming two years. Four software companies either have or have committed to the support of both the TWIST and ISO BSBs. The future is hard upon us.
The ISO 20022 XML standard has received further support in recent years after the single euro payments area (SEPA) initiative made it mandatory for all payments across the region to use this as a messaging standard. When SEPA migration completes, from 1 February 2014, it should give the overall standard a further boost across all areas.
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