ISO20022 Migration and the evolution of RMA

Relationship Management Application (RMA) is a service provided by SWIFT to help manage the business relationships between financial institutions.

It is a SWIFT mandated filter that was created to enable financial institutions to define which counterparties can send them FIN messages. It enables banks and FIs to issue granular RMA authorizations which contain a list of message types or message categories that can be received from a counterparty. 


Two main functions: 
  • Authorization: Customers exchange or create authorizations, indicating "who can send traffic to whom”.
  • Filtering: The customers' messaging interfaces apply these rules to control which traffic they can exchange with which correspondent
Advantages:
  • It provides full control over the traffic received from a user's correspondents.
  • It allows customers to control the traffic they receive from other users in a many-to-many environment, thus ensuring that traffic is only exchanged with those users with whom they have a business relationship.
  • It can reduce operational risk – unwanted traffic is blocked at the sender's side when used on a bilateral basis.
  • It can enable the fine-tuning of correspondent banking relationships – customers only receive the traffic reflecting the type of business that they conduct with their correspondent.

RMA uses a SWIFTNet InterAct Store and Forward service to exchange the permission data between financial institutions. It is SWIFTs advanced protocol-based messaging platform offering 4 services: FIN, InterAct, FileAct and Browse. It is designed to be reused for any combination of the SWIFTnet messaging service across business areas. It is run on SWIFT’s secure Internet protocol network (SIPN), a protected, private network offering the highest availability rates in the industry.


FIN - FIN enables the exchange of messages formatted with the traditional SWIFT MT standards. Works in store-and-forward mode and offers extensive value-added functionality, such as message copy, broadcasts, and online retrieval of previously-exchanged messages.

InterAct - InterAct enables the exchange of messages based on XML format. In addition to store-and-forward messaging, it also supports real-time messaging, and real-time query and response. 

File transfer with FileAct - It is most efficient when used to transfer large batches of messages, such as bulk payment files, very large reports, or operational data.

Browsing - Users can browse securely on financial web sites available on SWIFTNet using standard Internet technologies and protocols such as HTTP-S and HTML. 

As per SWIFTs 2020 release timeline, SWIFTnet Link 7.5 is scheduled for July 2020. 

RMA and ISO20022 Migration - 

With ISO20022 migration, RMA is also going to evolve. All existing RMAs will need to be replicated for the InterAct service. To facilitate this, SWIFT will make RMA available for ISO 20022 messages over the many-to-many InterAct service and RMA Plus will be the new default. 
Though the market participants will be automatically enrolled in this service, it is strongly recommended to perform a clean- up of the current RMA portfolio prior to the migration. 

Centralized platform

Currently, RMAs are under the control of the banks. If a receiver revokes an RMA, they may continue to receive messages until the sender updates their own RMA. As such, to avoid any impact to compliance decisions, RMA relies on synchronization being maintained and respected by both parties. Following the migration, RMAs will also be recorded and enforced by SWIFT through a centralized platform. This will mean that messages will be rejected by the network as soon as an RMA has been revoked, which will help to avoid any impact to daily operations. 

BICs to Distinguished Names (DN)

In SWIFT FIN messages, the sender and receiver were always specified in blocks 1 and 2 of the message. These values are known as Bank Identification Codes more commonly named BICs. 
A BIC is an 8 character long unique identifier for all BANKs on the SWIFT financial network. It is the Banks messaging equivalent of an address. A specific branch of a bank can also be defined with 3 further characters making a BIC 11 code whereby the default code XXX is commonly used as general Identification.

Example - CRESCHZZ80A

So in the world of FIN, addressing the message was simple. Each bank had a BIC and the central list was maintained by Swift. 

The ISO20022 standard, however, changes this. BICs are generally replaced with Distinguished Names (DNs). Distinguished names originate from the LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) where they are used to uniquely identify each element in a Hierarchical Directory structure. 
DNs consist of LDAP attributes like cn (common name) ou (organizational unit) uid (user identifier) and o (organization). With all value always in lowercase, these are given in comma-separated order of hierarchy whereby the left value is the lowest most local and specific identifier moving up to the value on the right which is the top-level parent.

To simplify it, let us understand CRESCHZZ80A as a DN. 

FIN BIC based on BIC11. 

CRES     CH     ZZ   80A  
Prefix Country Suffix Branch

Distinguished Name

Always a 3 level DN. 

ou=Branch,o=BIC8,o=SWIFT 
      3                             2                      1

ou=80a,o=creschzz,o=swift 


The addressing in SWIFT FIN is based on BIC11, while the addressing in InterAct Store and Forward is based on distinguished names. SWIFT will facilitate the coexistence and interoperability of the network addresses used by FIN and InterAct. They have defined a rule to create distinguished names out of the registered BIC11 (image 3). This rule will be enforced by the network. A file containing the converted RMAs will be made available to the bank for upload in their interfaces. Each customer will be given an adjustment period, allowing them to correct their RMAs if required. 

We at Nth Exception collaborate with Banks and Financial Institutions to analyze, solutionize, and optimize cross border payments processes. To complement our services and product we have partnered with companies in the payments space to deliver best in class payment solutions delivered by our partners.