Nordic Banks Partner With Microsoft And TietoEnator to Implement SEPA-Compliant Corporate-to-Bank Connectivity Solution And Service

Corporate customers and banks to benefit from secure and open standards-based communication channel.

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands — 4 April 2006 — At the European Payments Consulting Association Conference 2006 (EPCA) in Amsterdam, Microsoft Corp today announced that is has joined forces with TietoEnator and three leading banks in the Nordic region — Nordea, OP Bank Group and Sampo plc — to implement a secure and efficient corporate-to-bank connectivity solution and service for transactions and payments. The package, to be developed by TietoEnator, will facilitate secure and easy automated payments processing between corporations and banks and will meet the requirements of SEPA as set out by the European Commission and European Central Bank.

The solution and service, which is yet to be named, will help the partner banks to offer the necessary transparency, open connectivity and security that corporations are demanding for financial transactions and payments.

Using trusted software from Microsoft, the scalable corporate-to-bank solution will adopt ISO 20022 and industry open standards, including eXtensible markup language (XML), simple object access protocol (SOAP) and web services. The implementation will be based on Microsoft® BizTalk® Server 2006 and Windows Communication Framework (WCF), providing corporate customers with a robust, cost-effective, fast, reliable, internet-based connectivity between corporates and banks. Reflecting the agility of the technology, banks may also bilaterally agree with Microsoft to expand the solution to include messaging over SWIFTNet.

Through implementation of the new Microsoft technology-based corporate-to-bank solution, corporate customers will benefit from operational efficiencies and better visibility of their financial position. This is because the solution will have the functionality to interface easily with a corporate’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and treasury functions.

Sheida Hadji-Ashrafi, industry manager for financial messaging at Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said, “With the pressure on corporates to save costs and increase efficiencies, corporate-to-bank proprietary networks are no longer economically viable. With a standardised solution, European banks can provide corporates with a low-cost communication channel that will enable them to deal with their banks electronically, achieving an automated financial value chain.”

Olli Kähkönen, manager of strategy and infrastructure at Nordea, said, “Europe’s banks are all experiencing a squeeze on margins and pressure from corporate customers to deliver premium services at lower cost. We are aware that today it is much easier for business customers to vote with their feet if they become dissatisfied with their current provider. Together, Nordea, Op Bank Group and Sampo have chosen to create this connectivity solution to ensure that we remain competitive and retain the goodwill of our customers. Working with TietoEnator and using Microsoft technology, we are guaranteeing that the total cost of ownership for us, and our corporate customers, will remain low while productivity and security will be at the highest level possible.”

Petri Aalto, vice president, Payment Services from OP Bank Group said, "Open standards and new technology solutions enable corporate customers to achieve greater efficiency in their internal processes and gain a competitive edge in their banking relations. With a new corporate-to-bank connectivity solution the banks are able to better achieve SEPA's basic principle: to create an open, harmonised and competitive payments market.”

Jyrki Poteri, vice president, value networks, TietoEnator, said, “As a leading European provider of B2B integration, e-invoicing services and payments-related solutions for the banking industry, this is a very exciting opportunity for TietoEnator. The new solution and service will help both enterprises and banks to achieve payments automation and move towards a more integrated payments network in Europe with SEPA. We are delighted to be working with Microsoft, Nordea, OP Bank Group and Sampo develop this solution.”

Alain Raes, regional director at SWIFT, said, "Connectivity over SWIFTNet is a win-win for corporates and banks: they benefit from consistent standards, significant cost savings, improved security and high resiliency. With Microsoft BizTalk Server already SWIFTNet- and XML-enabled, it is now even easier for corporates and banks to leverage SWIFTNet."

David Vander, worldwide managing director of banking for Microsoft’s Financial Services Group, said, “At Microsoft, our focus in on delivering a modern, integrated and competitive payments platform that can help banking institutions to meet the demands of corporate customers as well as providing the ability to identify and capitalise on potential new payments services and revenue sources. The working relationship we have formed with the banks and TietoEnator to help the banks meet SEPA requirements is another great example of how we work with organisations to make this happen.”

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