Vodafone previously operated and supported its own SWIFT infrastructure however Fraser Lee, Treasury Systems Manager, Vodafone explained the decision to outsource and commented, “We identified that using a Service Bureau would enable us to more efficiently manage the high value payments that we process. We had a key requirement to maintain a direct relationship with SWIFT as well as retain a significant degree of control over the hardware infrastructure. Fortunately we were able to work with a flexible supplier such as SMA Financial in implementing a hybrid SWIFT Service Bureau.”
The Bureau went live on schedule to support Vodafone’s critical payments business. The process of switching over from Vodafone’s in-house infrastructure to the hybrid Bureau was successfully completed with no interruption to service availability for Vodafone’s business users. Vodafone receives bank statements as MT940 SWIFT messages and can initiate payments from its treasury system to relationship banks via the Bureau. Vodafone can also confirm Foreign Exchange and Money Market deals in an automated environment.
The project achieved and exceeded the original targets and the benefits include:
• Increased payments automation resulting in higher rates of straight-through processing (STP) and lower operational risk
• Reduced investigation times for exceptions
• A cut in the cost per transaction
• Consolidated multiple communication channels onto a single platform
The Service Bureau ensures that Vodafone can leverage its SWIFT capabilities into other business areas and there are plans to explore using the Bureau for CLS, Money Market funds and Tri-party Repos. This will allow future rationalisation of systems by maximising the use of SWIFT whilst minimising the risks involved as the relevant functionality already exists within the Bureau.
Migrating to a Bureau has a number of additional benefits as Fraser explained, “We have eliminated the effort required to keep our infrastructure up to date whilst maintaining control over the SWIFT environment. The hybrid approach maintains the feel of the in-house system but now our infrastructure is operated and supported by SWIFT experts in a highly secure environment. Additionally this has freed up resources to concentrate on other value added activity for Vodafone.”
Simon Murby concluded, “This project demonstrates the advantages to be gained from outsourcing SWIFT connectivity to a SWIFT specialist such as SMA. We can leverage the skills and experience gained from over 100 active Bureau customers to ensure that the benefits realised are long lasting and meet and exceed the original cash and treasury objectives.”