SWIFT has launched Alliance Lite2, its new cloud-based connectivity solution and replacement for the first iteration launched back in 2008.
Alliance Lite2 connects customers to the SWIFT network, enabling them to exchange messages and files with other SWIFT users. It will be deployed by end users on payment, securities and other messaging transactions and is now commercially available worldwide following pilot with financial institutions and corporations.
The second iteration of Alliance Lite supports all SWIFT message formats, standards and file types, asserts the body, as well as handling automated and manual exchange of messages and files. Additionally, it gives end users access to other services offered over the SWIFT network, including those from third parties. As Alliance Lite2 is a cloud-based service, customers will not need to install or maintain extensive software or hardware at their site, saving on capital expenditure costs if not on long-term fee expenses. Connection occurs via the Internet or a virtual private network (VPN).
Healthcare systems provider, Cerner, is one of several corporations and financial institutions that took part in the pilot testing and acted as launch partners. Leonard Nick, senior manager, treasury operations at Cerner, said: "We needed a single connection to our banking partners which is cost effective and provides the flexibility to add banks as our global operations grow. Alliance Lite2 will make it easy for us to use SWIFT without the need for additional equipment or a service bureau."
The launch of Alliance Lite2 has been keenly awaited since early in the year and it threatens to shake-up the existing way that corporations and financial institutions use SWIFT. Up until now the primary connectivity model and way to access SWIFT’s messaging services for payments, securities and so forth was to go to a SWIFT Service Bureau (SSB). These full-service vendors would ensure that you had all the necessary technology and integration modules to access the centralised SWIFTNet platform, as well as handling all the complicated and time-consuming paperwork and legal documents which scared off many a potential joiner in the past.
Alliance Lite 1 was supposed to cater to much smaller corporations and SWIFT users, providing an easy to access and use cloud-based solution that did not rely on a direct connection via a bank or an SSB. Uptake was very disappointing, however, with the vast majority of users following the SSB model as it saved on time, paperwork and hassle. It was be interesting to see if the launch of Alliance Lite 2 starts to reverse this model.
By Neil Ainger