Swift, the global banking communications network, has ended its test of granting access to nonbanks.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication had hoped the experiment would lead to commercially viable services for banks to offer corporate customers.
The pilot worked technically, but legal issues affecting Swift, member banks, and participating corporations were too burdensome to overcome.
The legal hurdles within "the national and cross-border legislative framework could not be solved in a commercially viable way," said Yawar Shah, Swift vice chairman and senior vice president at Chase Manhattan Corp.
"It was not a solution that anyone could be happy with," he said.
The Brussels-based Swift network allows more than 4,000 banks to transmit payment-related details among one another. The messages represent payments valued at more than $2 trillion daily. Settlement of the payments occurs off the Swift system.
The corporate-access pilot began in April 1996, involving 15 companies and 10 banks.
Swift officials had hoped to develop corporate services such as foreign exchange trade confirmations and trade-detail matching. Securities-related messages are now the fastest-growing category of network traffic.
But granting access to unregulated entities has always been a contentious issue within Swift.
Mr. Shah said the international cooperative has gone back to the drawing board, establishing a task force to investigate new message formats and protocols that let banks process corporate-initiated transactions.
"Corporations are telling us that they want more end-to-end, straight- through processing," Mr. Shah said. "We have to solve our clients' problems."