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SWIFT and HSBC to define industry standard for APIs in Hong Kong

03/10/2019

Hong Kong, 3 October 2019. SWIFT and HSBC announce today they are joining forces to define a common industry standard JSON for APIs, re-using ISO 20022 components, the initiative will see the Hong Kong banking community working together to review and agree on this standard.

In July 2018, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority introduced its Open API Framework, to facilitate the development and broader adoption of APIs by the banking sector. Since its launch, over 500 APIs have been made available by the 20 participating banks.

The new standard allows merchants to setup direct debit authorisation and initiate the collection instruction to bank on behalf of their consumers. This initiative by SWIFT and HSBC aims to avoid fragmentation on common use cases, speed up and ease API integration efforts and incremental investment for industry participants, and ensure interoperability with the Hong Kong Faster Payment System’s (HK FPS) underlying clearing and settlement system by reusing ISO 20022 as a standard. ISO 20022 is already widely adopted by market infrastructures across the world, including HK FPS, and is set to become the new standard for cross-border payments in the years to come, making it a logical choice when adopting a new technology.

Lisa O’Connor, Managing Director, Capital Markets and Standards, APAC said: “In recent years, the financial industry has moved from safe payments to fast payments, and is now embracing richer data payments as the world is moving towards Open Banking. In this context, the adoption of a common set of standards, such as ISO 20022, is a necessity to ensure interoperability between systems and reap the full benefits of Open APIs.”.

Nadya Hijazi, Head of Digital, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC said: “We are delighted to lead with SWIFT to develop the ISO 20022 JSON standards that enables more of our corporate clients and treasurers to reap the benefits of API connectivity. At HSBC we understand that the market is rapidly changing, with customers more technologically sophisticated and digitally oriented in their approach. We are thus committed to meeting the demands for an industry that is faster, more personalised and easily accessible. At HSBC we see immense value in defining an ISO 20022 JSON standard and have adopted these standards in our Treasury APIs for collections in Hong Kong”.

As a cooperative, SWIFT is working to minimise inefficiencies caused by heterogeneous regulatory requirements that could limit opportunities for common API frameworks and lead to fragmentation between regions. It brings its expertise in standards, specifically ISO 20022 – the standard for electronic data interchange between financial institutions – to work with HSBC to define the building blocks for standardisation of Hong Kong Open APIs and ensure their further interoperability with other markets.

Author: Kate Nelson