Swift has unveiled a real-time payment controls service designed to help banks spot fraudulent messages and avoid a repeat of the infamous Bangladesh Bank attack.
Bank customers will be able to integrate the service directly into their Swift messaging flows, making it easier to detect unusual patterns, screening the messages according to their own chosen risk and compliance policies.

Launched as a hosted utility, meaning no hardware or software installation or maintenance, the service will be initially targeted at smaller financial institutions and central banks struggling to meet new, more stringent security rules. The cost to customers has not been revealed.

The system will "red flag" out-of-policy payment messages and learn users' transaction patterns, developing a profile of their message traffic based on their specific business activities and the countries, counterparties and currencies they are involved with.

The tool is the latest effort from Swift to boost cybersecurity in the wake of the Bangladesh Bank attack, which saw hackers use the messaging network to steal $81 million from the bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Similar attacks have targeted firms in Ecuador and Vietnam.

Yawar Shah, chairman, Swift, says: "The new payment controls service is a direct response to our community’s request for additional services to complement and strengthen existing fraud controls.

"Through the development of new products, like the payment controls service and the roll out of the broader Customer Security Programme, Swift is demonstrating its commitment to delivering innovative community-based solutions that significantly enhance risk-management in cross-border payments.”

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