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ISO20022 message standards are being adopted by the financial services industry as a way to achieve consistency and enhance service in payments and transaction banking.

Financial messaging standards are not uniform across markets, jurisdictions or even banks. However, many projects are under way that will effectively make ISO20022 a true worldwide standard – some of the largest payment infrastructures, central banks and SWIFT have moved already to ISO 20022 and away from legacy messaging formats.

On this page we list some widely used ISO20022 variants defined by payment infrastructures (we also refer to them as clearers) – all of which are supported by XMLdation, so we can support banks adopting ISO 20022.

There is also an XMLdation Infographic explaining how ISO20022 is used in the payments domain and listing some key things to keep in mind in understanding ISO20022.

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XMLdation offers self-service testings that support ISO20022 transition, and streamline participant on-boarding and testing, for payment and other market infrastructures


Banks need to adopt to ISO 20022 on two fronts:

1. Sending and receiving payments

Banks who use legacy standards for sending and receiving payments to and from market infrastructures such as central banks and clearers, and partners such as correspondent banks, will need to migrate their payment and messaging systems to ISO 20022. The timings of the moves to ISO 20022 depend on the migration plans of these parties.

The changes in message formats used on this front are usually the following:

  • Messages used with market infrastructures are often based on SWIFT MT, or proprietary formats. Each of the market infrastructures has or will define their own variation of the respective ISO 20022 set of messages used for clearing, which the banks need to adopt.
  • Messages used between correspondent banks that connect over the SWIFT network will need to adopt SWIFT’s MX messaging format, which is based on ISO 20022.
  • Messages used between correspondent banks that connect over VPN networks or other methods can remain as agreed between parties.

This often means the bank has to

  • adapt its systems to several different ISO 20022 schemas
  • make significant changes to its systems
  • test comprehensively by simulating payment instructions and transactions with market infrastructures, as well as correspondent banks.



XMLdation offers a self-service testing tool for banks to transition to ISO 20022-based messaging with market infrastructures and correspondent banks.

2. Integrating with customers

Banks have an incentive to migrate to use ISO 20022 in automated messaging with their corporate clients because then they will be able to offer banking products and streamline their internal processes to utilise the rich data available in ISO 20022. Examples of these are:

  • Automated reconciliation between payments and invoices based on available reference data
  • Improved KYC, AML and sanctions checks
  • Reduced amount of payment processing failures due to more structured and accurate payment data
  • Better cash management reporting due to replacement of data truncation and ISO20022-based reporting messages from parties involved in the transactions.

However, this means that any customer-facing IT applications, such as integration gateways, must be able to process data in ISO 20022 format in order to do this.

When banks take ISO 20022 into use in client integration, they need to define their own variant of the ISO 20022 set of messages suited for integration with clients (such as payment instructions). This variant takes into account how the bank uses the attributes present in the messages.

The variance in adoption of ISO 20022 for client integration by banks has been the motivating force behind the Common Global Implementation Market Practice (CGI-MP) initiative. CGI-MP’s aim is to enable multi-bank, standardised, and global ISO 20022 XML implementations in the corporate-to-bank business area.


XMLdation offers a self-service client testing tool for client integration which enables banks to offer ISO 20022-based messaging integration.

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Payment infrastructures

Payment infrastructures roughly consist of:

  • “High value” systems, also called RTGS (or real-time gross settlement), run most often by central banks
  • “Low value” systems such as STEP2 in EU, BACS in UK or ACH in United States
  • Real-time payments schemes such as SCTInst/RT1, TIPS or TCH RTP
  • Securities repositories

The European Central Bank, Bank of England and Payments Canada have moved to ISO 20022. SWIFT now supports ISO 20022 and CBPR+ on its network. The Clearing House, Federal Reserve and other central banks and clearers are committed to migrating. All new real time payments infrastructures, such as FedNow, use ISO 20022. It thus seems clear that much of the world’s cross border payments will follow. ISO20022 is also being adopted by many securities repositories and clearing systems.

High Value Payments Initiatives

Payment infrastructures, including RTGS systems run by central banks, select ISO20022 as the messaging standard for their system modernisation initiatives. The table below lists some of them:

Scheme or Initiative Scheme owner Purpose
TARGET2 and T2S European Central Bank TARGET2 (RTGS) and T2S (Securities settlement) are based on ISO20022 messaging.
CHIPS The Clearinghouse, United States CHIPS is the bank-owned high value payment system for the US. The ClearingHouse has set up an ISO 20022 Program, aiming at migrating a new messaging set based on ISO 20022.
Fedwire Federal Reserve Banks, United States Fedwire® Funds Service is the US Fed’s RTGS system. The Federal Reserve System has initiated an ISO20022 Implementation project.
CHAPS Bank of England CHAPS is the RTGS in the United Kingdom and uses ISO 20022 messaging. 
Lynx Payments Canada Lynx is the new, modernized high value payments system (RTGS) in Canada, operating on ISO 20022-based messaging.
MEPS+ Monetary Authority of Singapore MEPS+ is the RTGS owned and operated by MAS and operates on ISO 20022-based messaging. 

Low Value Payments and Real-time Payments Initiatives

All new RTGS systems will be using ISO20022 in the foreseeable future. Owners and stakeholders of existing low-value payments schemes are also committing to migrate to ISO20022. Here are some of these initiatives, where XMLdation supports the ISO20022 variant format:

Scheme or Initiative Scheme Owner Purpose
SEPA / STEP2 EBA Clearing STEP2 is the Eurozone clearing and settlement system (CSM) low-value SEPA payments, based on ISO20022. It is migrating to the 2019 version of ISO 20022 in 2023. 
SEPA / RT1 (SCTInst) EBA Clearing RT1 is the Eurozone CSM for real-time payments, i.e. SCTInst payments, running ISO 20022.
TIPS European Central Bank TARGET Instant Payment Settlement (TIPS) is a real-time CSM run by the ECB, developed as an extension of TARGET2 based on ISO20022 messaging, with settlement in central bank money. Next update is in 2025.
TCH RTP The Clearinghouse The RTP® network in the US is a real-time payments platform available for US-based, with messaging based on ISO20022.
NPP NPP, Australia NPP is the real-time payments platform in Australia, operating on ISO 20022-based messaging.
PESALink IPSL, Kenya PesaLink is a real-time payments platform available in Kenya and uses ISO20022.


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The party who reaps the most benefit out of the global change is the party actually using the payments services – corporates.

Corporates will be able to complete payments in near real-time, with tracking and a lot more associated data to help associate the payment to other data in cash management, trade finance, FX and other use cases.