Citigroup (NYSE: C) announced Wednesday that it has begun using a corporate-to-bank Swift message type for multinational corporate clients.
The new format, MT (Message Type) 798 is the first Swift message that can be used by a corporate client to communicate with its banks for trade transactions. Before the MT 798, corporate banks had to submit trade requests such as the Issuance of a Commercial Letter of Credit using each bank's proprietary client portal (such as CitiDirect Online Banking) or arranging file feed formats based on each bank's messaging protocol. This resulted in a complex process for global corporate clients working with multiple banks. Now those corporate clients use one standard message to communicate with all their banks.
"Since most banks are SWIFT ready, they need to do some development for the new MT 798, but it is expected that the global players will do so," says Fran Martell, global capabilities product manager at Citi. "Citi wanted to be early to the market since we support a number of these global corporate clients."
The New York bank began employing the MT 798 messages — which send communications through any bank capable of handling that data — in the fourth quarter of last year.
"Use of MT 798 removes the complexity of running multiple platforms for a common purpose," said Andre Casterman, Swift's head of corporate and supply chain markets, in a press release. "Both banks and corporates have the freedom to make their own technology decisions and yet can connect with all of their counterparties. This also translates into cost savings and avoids vendor lock-in."
Citi handles more than 65,000 clients through its transaction services business. The bank's corporate customers are in more than 95 countries. In the fourth quarter, Citi said it held roughly $13.2 trillion in assets.