ISO 20022 Hackathon

503 Registered Allowed team size: 2 - 10
503 Registered Allowed team size: 2 - 10

This campaign is over.

starts on:
Mar 11, 2021, 04:00 PM UTC (UTC)
ends on:
Mar 20, 2021, 07:00 AM UTC (UTC)


Watch the Winners' Announcement!

The hackathon is now closed. 260 participants across 60 teams spent 7-days applying ISO 20022 and APIs to improve cross-border payments.

A huge congratulations to the three winners:

  • Atomic Wire won for its highly scalable stream processing solution that performs real-time atomic settlement of FX transactions, eliminating settlement risk and removing barriers to adopting payment-versus-payment for cross-border payments.
  • Mojaloop won for its solution for bridging the "last mile," bringing cross-border payments to users in emerging market economies who rely on mobile money transfer systems.
  • The Isonauts (Virtusa & AWS) won for their solution using machine learning to ensure completeness and correctness of data as a basis for smoothing international payments.

Thank you to all teams and participants!

Join a global hackathon to improve cross-border payments by using ISO 20022 and APIs

The era of API-enabled data-rich payments has arrived! Payment systems, service providers, global networks and forward-thinking corporates are adopting the ISO 20022 message standard, ushering in a new world of possibility for domestic and cross border payments. Data-rich payments will help streamline compliance processes, automate back-office processing, enable new business models, and ultimately make cross-border payments cheaper, faster and more transparent for all.

The ISO20022 Hackathon, hosted by the BIS Innovation Hub and SWIFT, invites participating teams to develop and showcase solutions that improve cross-border payments, using the ISO 20022 standard for payments messages and APIs. Whether you are a bank, a fintech, payment service provider or corporate, this event will give your team a head start in preparing for and showcasing innovative solutions for the upcoming ISO 20022 transformation through:

  • A masterclass with the ISO 20022 & API leads from cross-border payment network SWIFT. Tom Alaerts, a SWIFT ISO 20022 expert, will explain the benefits and requirements to adopt the standard in retail and wholesale payments and highlight the essential elements for use in payments. API experts from SWIFT will also cover how to use best-practice standardised APIs.
  • A deep-dive with Magnus Lageson of Swish, the ISO 20022-based mobile payments app which is used by more than 75% of all Swedes. Magnus will explain how to build with ISO 20022 from a developer's perspective, and highlight the benefits for consumers and end-users.
  • A 7-day virtual Hackathon that will give teams the chance to apply ISO20022 and APIs to address opportunities in cross-border payments. Teams can adapt their existing product to make use of ISO 20022 or build and demonstrate new solutions leveraging ISO 20022 and APIs.

Three winning teams will:

  • showcase their solutions at the BIS Innovation Summit (a global virtual conference from 22-25 March).
  • be featured in an interview for, which will be promoted through Sibos social media in Q3 of 2021. (The annual Sibos conference, organised by SWIFT, brings together thousands of business leaders, decision makers and topic experts from across the financial ecosystem.)

Why cross-border payments?

Making a cross-border payment is not just about moving money from country A to B. To make payments safe, efficient and compliant with regulations, data about the payment must be transferred as well. A number of checks and processes need to happen either before the payment is made, while it's moving through the financial system, or after the payment is received. The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) highlights how these processes can add cost, friction, and delays to cross-border payments, particularly when a payment goes wrong and needs manual intervention. (For example, a payment that is incorrectly matched against a sanctions list will be delayed for 24 hours on average.)

Significant improvements have been made to cross-border payments in recent years. Notably SWIFT's Global Payment Initiative (gpi) has take major steps forward in increasing the speed, transparency and reach of cross-border payments since its launch in 2016.

Yet frictions remain. Many complications stem from the use of different and incompatible data formats in cross-border payment messages. This makes it difficult for payment systems and services to talk to each other, can cause data loss between systems, and requires manual processing. However, standardised data formats, such as ISO 20022 and APIs can potentially streamline, improve and automate these processes.

It's time to get ready for ISO 20022 messages and APIs!

The underlying payments infrastructure is rapidly adopting ISO 20022 as a common messaging standard, making it more important that the wider payments industry is ready:

  • By 2025, SWIFT's global cross-border payments community will fully transition to ISO 20022, as part of an enhanced SWIFT platform.
  • The Eurosystem's TARGET 2 system already uses ISO 20022 for high-value payments, and another 14 high value payment systems will switch to ISO 20022 in the next 4 years.
  • The Bank of England's renewed RTGS service will use ISO 20022, as will the Federal Reserve's FedWire and new FedNow instant payment services.
  • By 2025 more than 90% of HVPS value worldwide will move on ISO 20022 rails.
  • ISO 20022 is already used in retail payments, including Europe's Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and Australia's New Payments Platform.

As well as the underlying payment systems, an increasing number of APIs are compatible with ISO 20022. The SWIFT Global Payments Innovation (gpi) APIs are already used globally for tracking and pre-processing cross-border transactions. APIs in general are making the financial industry more open, cheaper, faster, and always available. New payment providers are using APIs and ISO 20022 to offer their services to banks and established financial institutions, allowing them to grow faster than signing up end-users directly. However, like payment messages, APIs come in all shapes and sizes, so there's a need to harmonise API standards across global payment chains.

How can ISO 20022 & APIs help improve cross-border payments?

ISO 20022 is the de-facto common messaging standard for the financial industry, allowing payment systems to share data, particularly across borders, without loss or corruption of payment information. The CPMI has highlighted that the adoption of a harmonized ISO 20022 version is one of the key building blocks to improve cross-border payments. A common message format can lead to additional efficiency gains by avoiding workarounds and translation from one execution to another, thus reducing the implementation costs for new PSPs and enhancing the ability to achieve fully automated straight-through processing functionalities.

APIs allow payment providers to plug into different services to manage the various steps of a cross-border payment, such as account validation, payment routing, money laundering checks and sanctions screening.

Together, ISO 20022 and APIs offer significant benefits for payment service providers, banks, fintechs, technology providers and corporates. They can:

  • reduce data loss as payments move from one system to another
  • provide richer data with more context (eg sending a payment with the itemised invoice that the payment relates to)
  • provide corporates with greater visibility of where payments are, and when funds will arrive, making it easier to manage their cash
  • increase automatic processing of payments, and reducing manual intervention when things go wrong
  • streamline Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering checks and sanctions screening
  • allow firms to use the best provider for each step or process, in a modular way, rather than integrating all functions into one complex system

Adopting ISO 20022 and APIs are key steps towards making cross-border payments faster, cheaper and more transparent.

Key dates and deadlines

The team leader should register by Monday 8th March (by 23:59 US Eastern Time). (You can add additional team mates any time before the kick-off workshop.)

When registering, please mention the payments pain points you want to address (eg sanctions checking, AML & identity, invoice reconciliation, message translation, end user transparency in terms of speed and fees) during this hackathon.

All participants will be invited to join the kick-off sessions on Thursday 11 / Friday 12 March (with 2 workshops to accommodate all time zones).

Teams are free to decide how much time to spend developing solutions, but all solutions must be submitted by Friday 19 March (by midnight US Eastern Time).

Solutions will be judged by a panel of judges from the Federal Reserve Bank New York, Bank of England, European Central Bank, SWIFT, Innovate Finance (UK), CPMI, Payments Canada, New Payments Platform (Australia), Swish (Sweden) and DBS Bank (Singapore).

Winners will be announced at the BIS Innovation Summit (23-25 March).

The Hackathon is now in progress, so registration is now closed to new teams.

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