The group that runs the Swift banking communications network recently said it had moved a new electronic messaging system from pilot mode to commercial use.
Swift's Interbank File Transfer message system enables banks to send larger and more complex electronic messages than the system previously allowed.
Swift is run by a consortium of banks, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, based in La Hulpe, Belgium.
Banks have used Swift for decades to electronically send payment instructions and letters of credit around the world.
Until recently, the network supported only rigidly defined messages that could hold limited information. The Interbank File Transfer system can carry virtually as much data as a bank might want to send, in almost any format.
The system is expected to facilitate, among other things, financial electronic data interchange, or EDI, in which invoice information accompanies electronic payment instructions.
Eleven international banks, including Barclays Bank, Generale de Banque, and Standard Bank of South Africa, are using Interbank File Transfer. Swift officials said another three banks plan to start doing so in September.