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November 1, 2004

Cheaper European Clearing Costs

By Staff Reports

An industry-owned network provider says it is releasing common communications standards that will result in more efficient European cross-border settlement. Swift, which services some 7,500 institutions around the world, is acting on the recommendations of the European Commission-sponsored Giovannini Group.

Three years ago this group suggested that European regulators and market players cease the different practices that have led to high clearing costs. The commission assigned the group the job of replacing the different interfaces used by clearing and settlement infrastructures. The new European Union protocols are expected to be immediately adopted by member countries.

Indeed, they will have incentives to do so. Giovannini Group officials said that existing differences increase backoffice expense for market players. The latter would have to spend money on multiple technologies and sometimes rely on manual inputs.

The Giovannini Group contains some of the biggest financial players in the world. It is led by Alberto Giovannini, a former Italian banker.