What is ISO 20022 and what it is used for

ISO20022 is a repository of standard messages that are used between financial institutions across a variety of financial transactions including:

  • Payments
  • Card
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Securities
  • Trade

In general, when ISO 20022 is described, it is in reference to one or more of the messages that that standard delivers. From a technical perspective, ISO 20022 is the standard that provides the rules for how to develop the messages and the documentation of these messages. There are multiple sources of detailed information on the standard, which can be found in the following web pages:

Official ISO 20022 website: https://www.iso20022.org/

Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_20022

SWIFT Standards website: https://www.swift.com/standards/about-iso-20022

Where is it used in the world

Implementations of the ISO 20022 Payments standard has been undertaken and implemented in 12 countries/regions around the world, where there are currently 6 implementations in progress (including Namibia). Due to the nature of international initiatives, it is expected that even more countries are currently in early stages of initiatives to implement the standard, however this has not been formally published at this stage.

More information regarding the adoption status of the standard can be found on the official ISO 20022 website: https://www.iso20022.org/adoption.page  

What does ISO 20022 bring to Namibia

The Namibia implementation of ISO 20022 is specifically for EFT Debit and Credit Payment transactions and does not extend to the other financial transactions listed above at this stage. The standard has been implemented using a set of workflows tailored to the Namibia payments environment and in line with international best practice. Not all of the messages contained in the standard will be implemented initially in Namibia as they are either not required or are earmarked for future initiatives. The implementation of the standard will bring Namibia to the international stage and future-proof the National Payments System for the worldwide modernisation and digitisation trends.

Opportunities with ISO 20022

There are several key opportunities that are created as a result of the standard, which will be iteratively pursued by the Namibia National Payments System into the future. Such opportunities could involve:

  • Seamless cross-border payments with CMA/SADC countries using ISO 20022 standard
  • Involvement in the SWIFT migration to ISO 20022 as a future international project
  • Anti-money laundering initiatives to further reduce risk and identify incidents
  • Integration of Namibia payment streams into a single standard format to improve interoperability, create further efficiencies and reduce risk

PAN, in association with partners and its stakeholders, will implement a Continuous Improvement Initiative across the various payment streams to seek ways to further introduce enhancements, utilise the system to full capability, leverage best practice and implement new improvements for the Namibia National Payment System.