The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced the extension of its Sanctions Screening service to support all messages used in financial transactions, regardless of format or financial network.

Users can now screen all transaction formats, including SEPA (Single European Payment Area) and Fedwire, and transactions sent over networks other than SWIFT. The extended service also enables greater flexibility and back-office integration, addressing the needs of mid-sized banks and other users that have more complex business and operational requirements.

What is sanctions screening?

“Sanctions Screening is a community-based solution that makes transaction screening simple and affordable, even for the smallest institutions,” says Nicolas Stuckens, Head of Sanctions Compliance Services, SWIFT.

SWIFT developed Sanctions Screening for institutions that value a hosted solution to support real-time message screening against international sanctions lists. The service combines a highly sophisticated screening engine and sanctions list management with SWIFT’s security, reliability and resilience. Transactions can be screened against more than 30 of the most important sanctions lists, including those from the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control, (OFAC), the UK’s HM Treasury, the European Union, and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. SWIFT performs sanctions list updates at no additional charge, eliminating a major source of cost and risk for customers.

“Extending this service is a natural next step for SWIFT in our vision to support the evolving financial crime compliance needs of the industry,” Suckens adds.


Improved access to cost-effective compliance portfolio

Hugo Smit, Head of Sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT, says: “As sanctions regulations evolve, the burden of compliance on banks and other institutions is becoming increasingly costly and resource intensive. SWIFT’s enhanced Sanctions Screening service leverages SWIFT’s unique role at the heart of the international payments business to help financial institutions deal with the complexities of compliance in an efficient, real-time and cost-effective way. SWIFT is working closely with the local banking and finance community in Sub-Sahara Africa as they work to ensure compliance with domestic and international regulations.”

SWIFT introduced Sanctions Screening in 2012 as the first offering in its financial crime compliance portfolio. Nearly 300 institutions in 97 countries have subscribed to the service, including 15 central banks.

In Africa, there are more than 80 customers – including seven central banks – using Sanctions Screening. The Central Bank of Nigeria is one of the most recent new clients implementing the Sanctions Screening service. It has mandated use of the hosted service by the country’s banking community and it is anticipated that implementation will be complete by the end of January 2015.

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