ISO 20022 XML version 9 – So what’s new?

December 2023
8 min read

As the SWIFT MT-MX migration gains momentum, we are now starting to see more questions from the corporate community around the potential impact of this industry migration.

But the adoption of ISO 20022 XML messaging goes beyond SWIFT’s adoption in the interbank financial messaging space – SWIFT are currently estimating that by 2025, 80% of the RTGS (real time gross settlement) volumes will be ISO 20022 based with all reserve currencies either live or having declared a live date. What this means is that ISO 20022 XML is becoming the global language of payments. In this fourth article in the ISO 20022 series, Zanders experts Eliane Eysackers and Mark Sutton provide some valuable insights around what the version 9 payment message offers the corporate community in terms of richer functionality.  

A quick recap on the ISO maintenance process?

So, XML version 9. What we are referencing is the pain.001.001.09 customer credit transfer initiation message from the ISO 2019 annual maintenance release. Now at this point, some people reading this article will be thinking they are currently using XML version 3 and now we talking about XML version 9. The logical question is whether version 9 is the latest message and actually, we expect version 12 to be released in 2024. So whilst ISO has an annual maintenance release process, the financial industry and all the associated key stakeholders will be aligning on the XML version 9 message from the ISO 2019 maintenance release. This version is expected to replace XML version 3 as the de-facto standard in the corporate to bank financial messaging space.

What new functionality is available with the version 9 payment message?

Comparing the current XML version 3 with the latest XML version 9 industry standard, there are a number of new tags/features which make the message design more relevant to the current digital transformation of the payment’s ecosystem. We look at the main changes below:

  • Proxy: A new field has been introduced to support a proxy or tokenisation as its sometimes called. The relevance of this field is primarily linked to the new faster payment rails and open banking models, where consumers want to provide a mobile phone number or email address to mask the real bank account details and facilitate the payment transfer. The use of the proxy is becoming more widely used across Asia with the India (Unified Payments Interface) instant payment scheme being the first clearing system to adopt this logic. With the rise of instant clearing systems across the world, we are starting to see a much greater use of proxy, with countries like Australia (NPP), Indonesia (BI-FAST), Malaysia (DuitNow), Singapore (FAST) and Thailand (Promptpay) all adopting this feature.
  • The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI): This is a 20-character, alpha-numeric code developed by the ISO. It connects to key reference information that enables clear and unique identification of legal entities participating in financial transactions. Each LEI contains information about an entity’s ownership structure and thus answers the questions of 'who is who’ and ‘who owns whom’. Simply put, the publicly available LEI data pool can be regarded as a global directory, which greatly enhances transparency in the global marketplace. The first country to require the LEI as part of the payment data is India, but the expectation is more local clearing system’s will require this identifier from a compliance perspective.
  • Unique End-to-end Transaction Reference (commonly known as a UETR): This is a string of 36 unique characters featured in all payment instruction messages carried over the SWIFT network. UETRs are designed to act as a single source of truth for a payment and provide complete transparency for all parties in a payment chain, as well as enable functionality from SWIFT gpi (global payments innovation)1, such as the payment Tracker.
  • Gender neutral term: This new field has been added as a name prefix.
  • Requested Execution Date: The requested execution date now includes a data and time option to provide some additional flexibility.
  • Structured Address Block: The structured address block has been updated to include the Building Name.

In Summary

Whilst there is no requirement for the corporate community to migrate onto the XML version 9 message, corporate treasury should now have the SWIFT ISO 20022 XML migration on their own radar in addition to understanding the broader global market infrastructure adoption of ISO 20022. This will ensure corporate treasury can make timely and informed decisions around any future migration plan.


  1. SWIFT gpi is a set of standards and rules that enable banks to offer faster, more transparent, and more reliable cross-border payments to their customers.


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