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ISO 20022 – Background to the Standard

ISO 20022 is an open standard developed under ISO (the International Standards Organization) of which ASC X9 is a member and the US representative. ISO 20022 has as its usable components a series of message specifications (schema) supporting a broad, and increasing range of financial services standards. ISO 20022 uses UTF-8 encoding supporting essentially all languages and character sets.

ISO 20022, the standard and its schema was designed and is maintained by members of the financial services community: standardizers, banks, market infrastructures, end users and others. Financial services domains supported by ISO 20022: Cards, FX, Payments, Securities, Trade.

A primary component of ISO 20022 is the data dictionary, common to all financial services domains supported by ISO 20022 and syntax independent. An essential part of the ISO 20022 “recipe” is business process modeling as the foundation to design of message specifications. ISO 20022 has its own syntax, based in XML and supports other syntaxes where required, in the Cards space for example. 

Why ISO 20022?

The ISO 20022 schema was designed:

  • To replace a variety of legacy financial services message specifications, domestic as well as cross border. It also addresses a variety of issues and deficiencies of legacy standards including message and field sizes, support for character set, organized use in relation to other message standards, unmet requirements and other issues.
  • To supersede and replace a variety of creation efforts which threatened to proliferate a large number of overlapping but incompatible standards.
  • To work in concert with a number of other standards for example ifxforum, fpml, fpl, and TWIST.

Use of ISO 20022 is equally relevant via secured internet technology based transmissions and dedicated networks, over SWIFTNet via FileAct or InterAct, via APIs as well as other forms of communication.