Norwegian software vendor Commercial Banking Applications (CBA) says it has shipped the latest annual release of its IBAS GBF (Global Banking Factory) software to all customers over three months ahead of schedule, allowing additional time for testing in advance of the upcoming transition to SWIFT Release 2021 in November this year.

SWIFT Release 2021 upgrades the functionality and format of messages for guarantees and standby letters of credit (L/Cs), building on the updates to documentary credit messages completed as part of SWIFT Release 2018.

Digital trade finance

The SWIFT changes are part of an industry-wide initiative to support the digitalisation of trade finance that departs from unstructured messages to more complex and structured message types that allow for increased automation and straight-through processing.

To prepare for the November 2021 transition, banks need to ensure all back-office applications, front-end systems, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and other interfaces are ready for the transition.


By involving all user banks in workshops early on in the process and allowing them to test a pre-release version, CBA says it is allowing them ample time to interface with other systems, optimise the customer front end and establish new operational routines to ensure a smooth changeover.In its efforts to simplify the process for corporates CBA says the changes to its IBAS GBF front-end solution are based on an interface which is user-friendly for corporates unfamiliar with SWIFT's message structure but still complies with the new SWIFT standards.

New standby L/C requirements

CBA says it has optimised the business logic associated with handling the new requirements for standby L/Cs, which must now always be issued using the same message type as guarantees to make the process as straightforward as possible for user banks.

This includes the roll-out of new applications for handling standby L/Cs which are not only SWIFT compliant but also tailor-made in line with standby L/C market practice.Initially, what is now SWIFT Release 2021 was planned for 2019. It was deferred to 2020 to allow banks more time to prepare and subsequently deferred to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.