SWIFTNet recently went live as Hong Kong's financial messaging platform for Clearing House Automated Transfer System (CHATS) payments as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) switched from its proprietary network to SWIFT. By mid-2010, SWIFTNet InterAct and Browse functions will be added to the platform. Customers will be able to use these two additional features to benefit from the interactive and query services available from SWIFT (La Hulpe, Belgium).
The HKMA and Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited (HKICL) decided in 2006 that they would implement the new open platform and replace their proprietary platform. The implementation went live May 25. "This is a classic example of why a market infrastructure moves from a proprietary platform to SWIFT," according to Esmond Lee, Executive Director of the HKMA's Financial Infrastructure Department, in a statement. "The benefits of moving to a platform already used by most of the banks were clear." Most of the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) participating banks have been using SWIFT for international payments for many years. Also, incoming domestic messages received by the banks in Hong Kong can now be automatically converted into the RTGS message, just as these firms were already doing for international transactions.
Michael Cheung, Head of North Asia, SWIFT, who started the SWIFT project back in 2006, added in a statement, "The implementation further establishes Hong Kong's position as a major financial center in Asia, and provides a platform for future growth for Hong Kong-based institutions as well as institutions from across Asia to use Hong Kong's platform to grow their cross-border activity. Besides HK dollars, HK RTGS participants can use their SWIFT connection to clear US dollars, euro and renminbi through Hong Kong for more efficient linking with their foreign counterparties, who are also using SWIFT."