ISO20022 Migration - Australia's Status, Plan and Strategy


In Australia,  Financial institutions exchange high-value payments in HVCS using the SWIFT Payment Delivery System (PDS).

Though the number of transactions is relatively small at 42000, the average value is close to $2.5 million and more than $100 billion is transacted every day. 

So how is RBA planning the ISO20022 migration?


In Australia, the final settlement of AUD interbank payment obligations occurs across Exchange Settlement (ES) accounts through the Reserve Bank Information and Transfer System (RITS). It is Australia’s high-value payments system, which is used by banks and other approved institutions to settle their payment obligations on an RTGS basis. RITS supports a host of payment transfers - time-critical wholesale payments for other financial market infrastructures (FMIs), AUD pay-ins to or pay-outs from CLS, margin payments to central counterparties (CCPs), and debt and equity settlement obligations arising in securities settlement systems. 


Early 2019, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Payments Council (APC) issued the first in a series of three consultation papers aimed at assisting the industry to come to an agreement on key strategic issues regarding the adoption of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 20022 message standards in some parts of the Australian payments system. The first paper, the Issues Paper, set out the key strategic issues and posed related questions to seek industry feedback. The second paper, the Responses and Options Paper, issued in September 2019, provided a summary of responses received and potential implementation options for consideration. This third paper presents the RBA and APC’s final conclusions based on industry consultation. 

Here is a summary of the conclusions based on RBA's paper.  

Project Scope: 

In Scope

  • Upgrade the HVCS from the MT message format to ISO 20022 message standards. The HVCS will, once the migration is complete, continue to run as a separate system using the SWIFT InterAct partial Y-Copy service for clearing and settlement. (SWIFT is targeting a Q2 2021 delivery of this service, to allow for a minimum of six months of industry testing.)
  • Develop ISO 20022 message usage guidelines for clearing and settlement. 
  • Develop and implement agreed enhanced message content. 
  • Develop ISO 20022-based reporting, investigation, and reconciliation messages for the HVCS. 
  • Develop appropriate ISO 20022 HVCS message usage guidelines for customer-to-FI and FI-to customer messaging.  


Out of Scope 

  • Cheque clearings 
  • Direct credits and debits (direct entry (DE)) clearings 
  • BPAY clearings
  • Card clearings 
  • RITS Low-Value Settlement Service (LVSS) settlements 
  • Batch settlements, including property settlement and reservation (see below) 
  • RITS AIF
  • Development of a common credit message for Australia’s credit transfer systems
  • Other SWIFT messages, such as Category 3, Category 5, and Category 7 messages used in securities and treasury markets.


Message Design Enhancements: 

Structured data and enhanced content

When originating a payment message, structured data elements for party identification (e.g. name, address) and remittance should be used in line with HVPS+ and CPBR+ message usage guidelines. The use of these structured data elements will facilitate processing efficiencies that can be leveraged to improve the quality and efficiency of compliance monitoring processes, including payment screening. 

Payment purpose codes, enhanced identification information (e.g. name, address) and expanded remittance information (e.g. reference identifier) should also be used. Usage of IBAN and LEI is currently optional. 

Message Harmonisation

Message usage guidelines will be aligned with HVPS+ and CBPR+ guidelines. These will be harmonized, where possible, with ISO 20022 message usage definitions and versioning across domestic payment systems such as NPP. The 2020 version of ISO 20022 should, therefore, be used as the baseline for the domestic HVCS migration. 

Migration Approach and Strategy

Industry project schedule:  

Planning and design: March 2020 – February 2021 

Participants are also expected to plan for the migration of their own systems, as well as engaging with their clients and vendors in preparation for the migration.

Build and Test: November 2020 – November 2021 

Concurrent with the planning and design phase, participants will need to embark on the development and build required to support ISO 20022 messaging in their systems, they are also expected to participate in industry-wide testing. 

Coexistence: November 2021 – November 2024 

The migration will include a three-year coexistence phase. During this phase, all participants are expected to be able to receive enhanced ISO 20022 messages. Participants are required to maintain their SWIFT MT capability for the duration of the coexistence period. By the end of the coexistence phase in November 2024, participants will need to have completed their payments migration to ISO 20022.

End of support for domestic MT: November 2024 

At the completion of the coexistence phase in November 2024, or earlier if all participants have fully completed their migrations, domestic support for SWIFT MT will end. From this point, all domestic payment messages in the HVCS will use ISO 20022. Once MT is not supported domestically, a project review and other project completion activities will take place.


Coexistence Period : 

  • Concurrent operation of separate SWIFT Message Type (MT) and ISO 20022 Closed User Groups (CUGs) - It requires all participants to join the ISO 20022 CUG at the start of the coexistence phase. At the same time, participants must also remain in the SWIFT MT CUG until the end of the coexistence phase (or until the last participant has fully migrated to ISO 20022). 
  • Mandatory requirement to receive enhanced message content from November 2021.
  • Mandatory requirement to send cross-border instructions received in ISO 20022 as ISO 20022, if they are to be processed in the HVCS.
  • Mandatory requirement to continue to comply with regulatory obligations, including obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.


As per ISO20022 standards, it is a mandatory requirement for all participants who act as an intermediary for incoming cross-border payments received in ISO 20022 to pass on those messages, in full, in ISO 20022 if they are to be processed in the HVCS. This means that it will be mandatory for these intermediaries to be able to send ISO 20022 HVCS messages from the start of the coexistence phase. 

Participants will also need to consider AUSTRAC IFTI reporting requirements and make necessary system changes to accommodate reporting in the existing MT format (for MT messages) and the ISO 20022 format (for ISO 20022 messages). 

For participants who are not intermediaries for cross-border payments and who do not otherwise receive customer payment instructions in ISO 20022, it will only be mandatory to be able to receive ISO 20022 messages from the start of the coexistence phase. 

Strategy - Migrate directly to enhanced content capability from November 2021. Following the PMPG’s recommendation and a reconsideration of international migration strategies, the Australian migration of payments messaging to ISO 20022 will not include a like-for-like phase. Instead, the domestic migration will allow for enhanced ISO 20022 message content from inception, as outlined in Section 3.2. The domestic migration will have a period of coexistence between the existing MT message format and the ISO 20022 format. 

Translation Services - 

RBA will not be providing message translation services. Participants intending to use a message translation service for their back-office processing should determine their requirements as soon as possible and commence engagement with internal stakeholders and vendors as necessary. 



The above status is as of the end of March 2020.

Reference Documents -