ISO 20022: The future of payments

Payments Canada is leading the effort to introduce ISO 20022 — an international standard designed to simplify global business communication — for payments in Canada. ISO 20022 provides consistent, rich and structured data that can be used for electronic funds transfers.

In recent months, ISO 20022 has reached significant milestones worldwide, including its successful implementation in Canada (Lynx), the United Kingdom (CHAPS, CBPR+), Europe (EURO1 and Target2), South Africa (SAMOS) This global adoption of ISO 20022 holds promises of transforming payments. One of the most remarkable aspects of this transformation is ISO 20022’s ability to usher in a new era of data-rich, structured messaging, offering benefits to individuals, corporations, fintechs and financial institutions alike.

ISO 20022's structured data can empower individuals to understand their financial transactions more easily. Richer data within ISO 20022 messages provides detailed information about each transaction, allowing individuals to view their bank statements with clarity, knowing exactly what each debit or credit refers to.

For corporations, ISO 20022 offers significant advantages in terms of reconciliation and dispute resolution. In the past, the lack of standardized remittance information caused confusion and delays because necessary information would be omitted or not clearly stated, causing further investigations. ISO 20022's structured remittance information element solves this by providing clear paths for invoice details and descriptions. This structured approach reduces errors, automates processes, and accelerates dispute resolution.

Fintech companies
Fintech companies can harness ISO 20022's standardized data structure to develop solutions that work across jurisdictions. ISO 20022's global acceptance allows fintechs to build applications that address the diverse payment ecosystems of different regions. For instance, fintechs can create applications that cater to both European IBAN requirements and Canadian clearing codes, enabling seamless cross-border payments.

Financial institutions
Financial institutions (FIs) stand to gain comprehensive insights from the richer data provided by ISO 20022 messages. The structured data aids in understanding clients better, which, in turn, helps FIs manage risk more effectively. Today, payments are not as transparent as they should be, which raises concerns around payments meeting regulatory compliance requirements. ISO 20022 will allow for more information to be included in a payment, and to stay with that payment, through its complete lifecycle. More data within a payment increases transparency and alleviates compliance concerns for FIs.

The worldwide implementation of ISO 20022 is paving the way for a financial landscape defined by data richness, streamlined operations, and enhanced transparency. Once fully adopted by the payment industry, the benefits of ISO 20022 will extend to individuals, corporations, fintechs and financial institutions, all of whom will be able to leverage structured data to drive efficiency, reduce risks, and foster innovation.

As we move forward in this era of advanced payment messaging, the power of ISO 20022 will continue to unfold, revolutionizing the way financial transactions are conducted and experienced by all stakeholders. We’re just at the beginning of this financial revolution. It will be exciting to see the possibilities realized.



Karl Lee
Senior ISO 20022 Analyst
Payments Canada

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