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ICC and Swift, the global leader in secure financial messaging services, have unveiled the first application programming interface (API) industry standards for bank guarantees and standby letters of credit.

The partnership unites ICC and Swift members, encompassing banks, corporates, fintech platforms, and service providers, aiming to forge leading industry standards to streamline the entire life cycle of financial instruments, from issuance to advising, amendments, cancellations, and claims.

Besides offering a minimal footprint, APIs will facilitate standardisation and offer real-time visibility, which will augment interoperability, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure the seamless integration of banking functions into corporate treasury, enterprise resource planning systems, and third-party platforms, specifically regarding guarantees and standby letters of credit.

The API model is primed for testing, implementation, and adoption within the sector. It is in line with SWIFT Message Types (MT) standards and forthcoming ISO 20022 compliance to mitigate disruption to prevailing trade systems. This strategy guarantees a future-resistant implementation and responds to the pressing demand for standardisation in the trade API domain.

Andrew Wilson, ICC Global Policy Director, said, “The completion of the standard model API for guarantees and standby letters of credit is a great step forward towards interoperability and digitisation of trade finance. The cooperation with Swift is essential to reach this point, and we are confident it will lead to further development for other trade finance services after a successful implementation phase. “ 

Samuel Mathew, ICC Banking Commission Steering Group Vice-Chair and Global Head of Documentary Trade at Standard Chartered, said, “These API standards for guarantees reflect the technical expertise and collaboration within the working group, and address the reality and needs of the market. The result is a standardised set of APIs with future trade ISO compliance flexibility. We are confident the industry will adopt these standards for seamless integration and data movement. This API is the first of its kind in the trade domain, and the working group aims to deliver similar specifications for the entire trade product in the near future.” 

Shirish Wadivkar, Global Head of Wholesale Payments and Trade Strategy at Swift said: “The unified Trade Guarantee API standards will facilitate seamless and structured data exchanges, making multi-bank interactions – which is a critical process – much more efficient. As adoption of the standards accelerates, businesses will also benefit from improved security and liquidity in the guarantees space. This is part of Swift’s continued collaboration with ICC and the community to create a future-ready digital trade ecosystem, anchored in common standards and interoperability.” 

The detailed API specifications can be found at