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AFP 2020 Blog

Leveraging ISO 20022 in the U.S.

Jun 9, 2020

By Matt Loos, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Treasury Services

ISO 20022 is finally coming to the United States and will make a major impact on global transactions. In a session at AFP 2020, we will show attendees how to prepare for ISO 20022 migration and how it will solve many of issues with making international payments.


ISO allows data to be organized in a structured and consistent way so treasurers can make better decisions on cash forecasting and payment processing. The standard opens up the conversation around interoperability across currencies and payment types, offering more optionality and efficient pay methods in the future. This is a major change heavily promoted by banking regulators, and every organization needs to prepare to adopt the new standard, while planning to take advantage of opportunities it will bring.

The new normal is making the need for digital and electronic payments to be even more prevalent in all global markets. The focus on better technology—to make payments frictionless and simple—is at the forefront due to COVID-19, and ISO can be a large provider of better capabilities in global payments. In fact, all the new and innovative fintechs are using APIs on the front end and ISO 20022 as a canonical data model and its integration pattern on the back end. COVID-19 could also accelerate the timelines for many market and clearing changes.


The pandemic has made us all think about how important this major market shift to ISO is. Having the best way to process digital, cross-border transactions is even more critical in a stay-at-home environment, impacting everyone from the individual consumer up to the largest financial institution. Each company is at a different stage in their digital transformation journey. It is important to create a plan that starts with today but is flexible enough for the future and one that meets global standards for efficient onboarding and integration.

Be ready for inevitable change. ISO has been around for a while, but the need for global consistency has never been greater than it is today. While adopting the ISO 20022 messaging standard can solve this urgent need, it will require all parties to prioritize technology changes and plan for the future state. ISO 20022 is already in use for the new Real Time Payments rails and will be even more of an interbank mandate by 2024. Although banks will support corporate use of legacy formats, forward-looking competitors are already planning to take advantage of the rich data and common standards of ISO 20022.

Build a plan not just for the next year or couple of quarters but for the next 3-5 years. This ISO shift will not happen overnight, but we all know how quickly time passes. The need to be ready for major changes in 2-3 years will be here before we know it. Plan, plan and plan…and remember you’re not in it alone. Work with a trusted partner to help you. Banks will likely offer these capabilities at different speeds—so plan for coexistence, which can create opportunities to experiment on a smaller scale. Like banks, consider this shift as a catalyst for an overall modernization program rather than purely a regulatory tax.

Don’t miss Leveraging ISO 20022 in the US – What, Why and How? at AFP 2020. Register for AFP 2020 here.