25 years of SWIFT in Romania - Community and collaboration
On 8 November 2017, the Romanian banking community gathered in Bucharest at the eighth edition of the SWIFT Business Forum Romania, an international landmark event organised jointly by the Romanian Association of Banks (RAB) and SWIFT, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Romanian banks connecting to SWIFT.
Among the main topics tackled at the Business Forum Romania this year were the impact of new regulations on the banking industry, the projects of the Romanian community as regards payments and transactions with financial instruments in the context of the European initiatives, SWIFT’s Customer Security Programme, the digital agenda and innovation in financial and banking services, as well as new industry initiatives such as SWIFT gpi (the global payments innovation initiative) and Instant Payments.
The Forum’s opening session looked at the Romanian banking sector’s developments in the 25 years since the first banks from Romania connected to the SWIFT infrastructure.
Radu Grațian Ghețea, President of the Romania SWIFT Member Group and Honorary President of RAB, stated that: "For Romania, connecting the first four banks to SWIFT in 1992 meant an unprecedented opening toward the international banking community, due to the possibility of making payments, treasury, financial instruments and foreign trade operations, based on an electronic messaging system and a secured technical infrastructure. It also meant that we had to align to the best practices of the industry and integrate into the global financial and banking community".
For Romania, connecting the first four banks to SWIFT in 1992 meant an unprecedented opening toward the international banking community.
Radu Grațian Ghețea, President of the Romania SWIFT Member Group and Honorary President of RAB
Currently, the SWIFT User Group from Romania has 43 members, representatives of all credit institutions, the National Bank of Romania, the State Treasury, TRANSFOND, the Central Depositary, and representatives of some payment institutions and corporations. We must underline the fact that, in Romania, the SWIFT traffic went up by over 50%, in a sustainable manner, in the last five years.
Sergiu Oprescu, President of RAB’s Board of Directors, talked about the characteristics of the Romanian banking sector and about RAB’s strategy in the near future, contemplating the context generated by the new European and national regulations, technological progress and more competition.
"We are celebrating today a quarter of a century since the first Romanian banks connected to SWIFT, a fact which represents a milestone in the history of the financial industry of Romania, post December 1989. Such milestones in RAB’s history, which pertain to creating the banking sector’s infrastructure, represent strong arguments for the implementation of the strategy and the roadmap of the Romanian banking industry. Romania can obtain a convergence advantage by faring at a speed faster than the speed of the group it chases, in the following three strategic directions: financial inclusion (62% in Romania compared to over 90% at European level), the digital agenda (last in Europe based on DESI, but ranking second as regards high speed connectivity) and financial literacy, where Romania ranks last in Europe 28 and where, with not too much effort, we could gain special traction when it comes to the sustainable growth of financial intermediation " mentioned Sergiu Oprescu.
We are celebrating today a quarter of a century since the first Romanian banks connected to SWIFT, a fact which represents a milestone in the history of the financial industry of Romania.
Sergiu Oprescu, President of RAB’s Board of Directors
On his first visit to Romania, Matthieu de Heering, Head of Central & Eastern Europe, SWIFT, said: "I am very happy that my first visit to Bucharest coincides with such a milestone event for the SWIFT community of Romania and I am very grateful for the opportunity to address the SWIFT Business Forum. The current environment is very different compared to the one we had 25 years ago – cyber threats, compliance, pressure upon the correspondent banking model; but SWIFT’s cooperative model continues to demonstrate its relevance by bringing solutions at the industry’s level, such as the new programme for enhancing transaction security, SWIFT gpi to enhance the performance of messaging among correspondent banks, SWIFT’s Instant Payments Gateway and our portfolio of Financial Crime Compliance services".
SWIFT’s cooperative model continues to demonstrate its relevance by bringing solutions at the industry’s level, such as the new programme for enhancing transaction security, SWIFT gpi to enhance the performance of messaging among correspondent banks, SWIFT’s Instant Payments Gateway and our portfolio of Financial Crime Compliance services.
Matthieu de Heering, Head of Central & Eastern Europe, SWIFT
Søren Haaugard, member of the SWIFT Board, spoke about implementing the SWIFT 2020 strategy, an ambitious programme that envisages enhancing and consolidating the core messaging services, expanding the supply for market infrastructures, a consistent and innovative portfolio of solutions complying with the regulations on financial crime, as well as a new approach as regards cyber security for the SWIFT users and for the connections with their partners.
Marianna Janssens, SWIFT gpi expert EMEA, presented the service launched by SWIFT in 2015 to significantly improve the customer cross-border payments experience, by bringing more speed, transparency and predictability, and using SWIFT’s main assets: the messaging platform and the global coverage. To date, about 125 banks with a global presence covering over 75% of SWIFT cross-border payments have joined gpi.
The new European Directive on payment services – Directive EU no. 2366/2015, the manner in which it will change the business model in the payments industry and the central bank’s concerns about transposing and enforcing this regulation were presented by Ruxandra Avram, Head of the Payment and Settlement Systems Regulation and Oversight Unit in the National Bank of Romania.
Instant payments, already available in Europe starting in November 2017 for euro-denominated operations, were tackled upon by Ionel Dumitru, TRANSFOND advisor, who presented a project initiated by TRANSFOND together with the banking community for the development of a lei-denominated instant payments system so that, starting in 2018, Romanian banks will be able to provide their customers payment services 24/7/365, in no longer than maximum 10 seconds and in a secured environment.
During the same session, Mihaida Meila from Depozitarul Central Romania, told the audience about the challenges and opportunities of the Romanian capital market and reviewed the current and the future projects regarding the processing and settlement infrastructures on this market.
A topic of great interest in the Forum was SWIFT’s Customer Security Programme (CSP), which was presented by Michael Formann, Head of SWIFT Germany & Central Europe.
Following the fraud cases perpetrated during 2016, some of which also involved the use of SWIFT messaging services (the most well-known being the Bangladesh case), SWIFT initiated a programme that imposes on all its members and users a new model approach to cyber-security across their organisations. This programme includes several security objectives, principles and controls.
In a first stage, the CSP obliged all SWIFT users to make a security self-assessment that was to be completed by the end of 2017 and the results of which will be published in the SWIFT community in a special section of the SWIFT KYC Registry.
Gizem Tansu, Compliance Expert CEE, SWIFT, mentioned the novelties regarding the compliance solutions portfolio, especially the Know Your Correspondent – KYC Registry, a centralised platform at global level that currently stores the qualified data and documents of over 4,300 financial and banking institutions and which can be accessed when establishing, assessing and updating the relationship with correspondent banks.
The last session of the SWIFT Business Forum Romania was dedicated to innovation, new technologies and their impact on financial and banking services.
Alina Florean, Senior Project Manager Roland Berger Romania, presented the outcome of a survey regarding the digital transformation in banking services, its implications upon banks and the impact of the revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2) on the business model of the banking industry.
Anca Nutiu, Head of Retail Business Development Division, PIRAEUS Bank spoke about the need for banks to innovate and also about the concrete projects deployed in order to grant customers the experience they are looking for, via fast, efficient and safe services.
Open technologies in financial and banking services and the collaboration among banks, software providers and FinTechs were the topics covered by Sorina Bera, CEO Allevo. The conclusion of this session was that a strong community and a close collaboration among all involved entities, can make the most of existing opportunities, to the benefit of the industry and of customers alike.
On the occasion of the SWIFT Business Forum Romania, SWIFT – via its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme – informed us about their donation of €3,000 to SOS Children’s Village Bucharest.
More information and the presentations held during the Forum are posted on the RAB site .