ISO 20022 - The new language of payments

What is ISO 20022?

ISO 20022 is a flexible standard for financial messages that enables interoperability between financial institutions, market infrastructures and the Banks’ customers. All banks must be ready to support the new language/standard to continue processing payments and customers should also prepare for changes.

The IS020022 standard supports the inclusion of richer, better structured transaction data in payments messages, and aims to deliver a better customer experience by enabling less manual intervention, more accurate compliance processes, higher resilience and improved fraud prevention measures.

ISO 20022

ISO 20022 Readiness Panel Discussion

Watch our SWIFT& HSBC panel experts review key considerations including: Getting ready for ISO 20022 adoption; SWIFTs update on TM and market practices; What FI's need to be ready for in March 2023.

Published 11th August 2022

HSBC & SWIFT: ISO 20022 & TM Update

Hear from SWIFTs Stephen Lindsay (Business Lead – SWIFT Platform), as he explains the latest plans that our FI clients should be considering in order to best prepare for SWIFTs cross border payment ISO 20022 migration in March 2023.

Published 16th November 2021

Accelerating in to Payment Transformation

Marco Hughes, MD Global Payments Products, helps explain about ISO 20022, what some of the benefits and the vital steps that customers need to start taking in order to be ready for this migration.

Watch the ISO segment from this replay video (from 26min35sec until 44mins34sec)

Benefits and timeline

What are the benefits of ISO 20022?

ISO 20022 adoption will provide benefits to the entire payments ecosystem i.e. Banks, Market infrastructures and to the Banks customers:

  • Rich structured party data and increased field size will provide greater levels of transparency and create efficiencies by reducing delays caused due to unstructured, incomplete, or inconsistent data.
  • By adopting dedicated returns and investigation messages and using standardized return codes, the current delays in applying returned funds back to the customers and responding to inquiries from other Banks will be drastically reduced.
  • By maintaining dedicated reference fields that remain unaltered in the end to end payment journey and introducing structured remittance data, customer’s reconciliation capabilities will be augmented.
  • Greater message harmonisation across the entire payments industry, with a universal message type for all payments will help integrate with many more schemes on a faster basis.

What are the timelines for migrating to ISO 20022 standards in different markets?

ISO 20022 adoption will take place over multiple years. Payment Market infrastructures (PMIs) of all major currencies are either live or in the process of adopting ISO 20022 by November 2025 for cross border payments. SWIFT has published a roadmap to migrate the existing message type 1,2,& 9 series starting from March 2023 (previously November 2022). Adoption plans are still evolving in each market and further clarity will be provided over time.

Adoption by major Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) market infrastructures/currency is currently planned as follows:

Scheme / Currency


Cross Border








Adoption Date

20 Mar 2023*

(Co-existence period until 2025)

19 Jun 2023*

20 Mar 2023*

20 Mar 2023* - Phase 1

08 Apr 2024* - CHIPS full ISO Adoption

Mar 2025*- FED full ISO Adoption

22 Apr 2024*

Impact, adoption and strategy

Which SWIFT messages are impacted by the ISO migration?

SWIFT plans to migrate all Customer and Inter-bank payments, as well as related advice and statement messages (the MT1xx, MT2xx and MT9xx series of messages).

What is HSBC’s plan to adopt ISO 20022?

HSBC is actively involved with SWIFT and the different market infrastructures that are migrating towards ISO. We will align ourselves with the market requirements and delivery timelines set by different market infrastructures and ensure we are well placed to comply with the adoption strategies set forth by the market infrastructure.

What is HSBC’s strategy to align to SWIFT’s adoption of ISO for cross border payments?

HSBC’s adoption strategy will be driven by two different approaches:

  1. Markets with domestic migration announced
    ISO enablement of SWIFT cross-border payments will be synchronized with domestic ISO migrations in HSBC markets with domestic PMIs:
    • If the country’s ISO adoption is before or at the same time as SWIFT migration starts, we will first migrate the domestic scheme and then migrate that country’s SWIFT cross border traffic;
    • If the PMI’s migration date is after SWIFT migration starts, then we are exploring (depending on the gap between domestic and SWIFT migration) whether we can open up SWIFT cross border traffic in certain markets before the domestic migration.
  2. Markets with no domestic migration announced
    The approach is to complete SWIFT cross border traffic migration in all countries and be compliant by Nov 2025. If a market infrastructure announces a domestic scheme migration before 2025, our current migration strategies are flexible enough to adapt accordingly.

What are the common adoption strategies?

The common adoption strategies are:

  • Like for like', where the message format will be replaced from MT to ISO 20022 xml format that has comparable elements and character lengths to the existing SWIFT MT messages.
  • Full/enhanced ISO', where additional and enhanced existing elements are available. In order to ensure consistent usage and inter-operability, guidelines are defined by the industry.

Market practice guidelines

What are the current market practice guidelines being followed by the industry for ISO adoption?

Two guidelines are available for the payment market infrastructures:

  1. High Value Payments Plus (HVPS+) market practice guidelines followed by certain Market infrastructures
  2. Cross Border Payments and Reporting plus (CBPR+) guidelines. The CBPR+ group are experts nominated from the SWIFT community tasked with developing usage guidelines for ISO implementation by Banks for SWIFT cross-border payments.

While HVPS+ and CBPR+ are almost fully aligned with a few minor differences, HSBC will provide updates to the possible impacts they may have on our customers in the respective markets.

How to prepare for ISO 20022

Readiness Handbooks

We have created readiness handbooks to support our customers through the transition to ISO 20022, highlighting the significant changes this will bring across the payments industry, how and why these changes will happen, and the benefits they can bring.

What should banks* be preparing for?

* Also includes NBFIs sending instruction via SWIFT

As published in SWIFT’s connectivity guidance document it is mandatory that all Banks are required to upgrade their messaging interface to support InterAct (store-and-forward) by 20 March 2023 - (For institutions that plan to use the API channel, a messaging interface is not required).

Institutions can also define the channel and format preferences for the transactions they receive through SWIFTs Transaction Manager (TM) platform. SWIFTs TM platform will ensure interoperability between users of different data formats and connectivity channels.

Here are some further considerations that banks should be looking at:

  • Industry Testing: Get ready to participate in industry testing as mandated by market infrastructures and SWIFT. If you use another bank for clearing, please reach out to that bank
  • Process & Systems: Have processes and systems geared up to fulfil your Sanctions and AML controls based on new party fields in the chain
  • Archive Data: Ensure that you are able to archive the rich ISO payments data as per your country regulations
  • Data Availability: Create solutions to make enriched data available to your customers
  • Structured Data: Start preparing to provide structured Name and address information for your customers(Debtors)
  • Training: Training and awareness of internal staff on the new language

For banks* sending Payments to:


  • Clearing: Be ready to accept and align with the clearing market infrastructure based on their timelines
  • SWIFT: As a minimum you are required to mandatorily upgrade your messaging interface to support InterAct (store-and-forward)

your Currency Provider

  • Have conversations with you Currency Provider
  • Agree the roadmap/migration timelines and expectations on message formats

For banks* receiving Payments from:


  • Clearing: Be ready to accept and align with the clearing market infrastructure based on their timelines
  • SWIFT: As a minimum you are required to mandatorily upgrade your messaging interface to support InterAct (store-and-forward)

your Currency Provider

  • If you use non-SWIFT based channels have a discussion with your provider

* Also includes NBFIs sending instruction via SWIFT

What should Corporate customers be preparing for?

We recommend our Corporate customers understand the potential of XML for your business and make the most of the opportunity.

Here are some considerations for Corporate customers:

  • Preparing for the future: A few market infrastructures already mandate corporates to provide XML as a standard while communicating to their Banks. With the increased adoption of ISO20022 as a standard by SWIFT and major market infrastructures worldwide it is possible that more market infrastructures may recommend ISO as a messaging standard for communicating. Considering this in your technology plans will support preparation for these requirements from market infrastructures in the future.
  • Structured Data requirements: SWIFT and all major market infrastructures have mandated structured addresses as a requirement for party fields that are not currently supported in MT, i.e. Initiating Party, Ultimate Debtor, Ultimate Creditor. We strongly recommend you, as our corporates, start looking at the data you currently provide to banks, and work closely with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Treasury Management System (TMS) providers to start making required updates to the static data, to ensure you are prepared for ISO adoption.
  • Capitalising on rich standards: ISO offers multiple benefits that will help streamline end to end processing. Early adoption will allow you to capitalise on the information that is supported in remittance information and enhanced end to end references, which will be available through ISO based cash management(camt) statements/advises.

What you can expect from us

HSBC is eager to work with our clients to assist in their migration to ISO 20022. HSBC has been a strong advocate for XML and a key driver in the evolution of the ISO 20022 XML standard. Customers will be able to leverage our experience gained from our implementation of various RTP schemes.

We’ve established a global program with a central governance model, delivering technology solutions aimed at providing a consistent customer experience. HSBC is an active participant in the TM platform initiative and we are engaged in industry collaboration to drive the direction and design of the TM via the Platform User Group (PUG), Cross-Border Payments and Reporting Plus (CBPR+) market practice working group, National Member User Groups and as members of the SWIFT Boards in both the UK and HK.

As market infrastructures finalize specifications, our team of experts will reach out to you and provide the details of changes to our existing offerings, and information on any new value added services that we will be able to offer leveraging the richer data elements that ISO 20022 offers.

Listen to our latest podcast – ISO 20022: The new language of payments

ISO 20022 will enable richer and more detailed data to be included in payment messages, along with a host of other benefits, resulting in a better customer experience. In this episode, Mark Avery, Senior Product Manager, HSBC, and Umut Uysal, Senior Global Product Manager, HSBC, discuss what you need to know about this exciting innovation in banking. (Accurate and published as at 21 Oct 2021)

Useful information

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