Swift, the bank-owned global financial messaging service, has launched several new interbank communication formats, including some for securities trading.

Several of the new message formats will replace existing Swift formats. Others are designed exclusively for securities.

The Brussels-based network - formally the Society for Interbank Financial Telecommunication - developed the message formats to streamline confirmations and affirmations during securities trading.

Swift and its owner banks hope the new formats ease the burdens of complying with the "T-plus-three" three-day securities settlement deadlines, therefore reducing the risk of trade failures, which can be costly and labor-intensive to both buyers and sellers.

"The move to T-plus-three demands that processing of securities trade information be done quickly and seamlessly," said Anthony Kirby, director of securities markets with Swift.

Robert Davies, a senior market manager, said the new message formats will help traders perform electronic trade confirmation through links with securities clearing houses such as New York's Depository Trust Co. and several European-based securities clearing houses like Euroclear, Cedel, and the soon-to-be launched Crest system.

"The current message standards on the network don't really support that activity," Mr. Davies said.

He said the new formats include trade allocation instructions, which will let investment managers and brokers split blocks of traded securities into several settlements.

The existing message types will remain on the network until November. As many as 200 of the nearly 2,900 member banks have begun converting their systems to the new formats, officials said.

Anna Hannon, a vice president and global product manager with Citicorp, said the new formats will reduce the risk of settlement errors, which she described as "the most costly thing that we all deal with, particularly with cross-border transactions."

She said the new formats are designed "to standardize elements, standardize messages, and move prematching up in the process."

"We get an instruction, and we call up the counterparty," she said, describing the prematching process. "We say, 'We have this trade, do you have the other side of this? Do you recognize it?'"

When details do not match, parties to the trade then must contact the originator - either via fax or telephone - in order to salvage the transaction.

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