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Swift builds underground datacentre to keep bank transactions in Europe

Karl Flinders

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift), is building a European datacentre underground as part of a €175m project to make it possible to fully process European transactions in Europe.

Mike Fish, CIO at Swift, says the initiative – known as the Distributed Architecture (DA) project – is one of three large projects, which are all at different stages of completion.

Due for completion in 2013, the five-year project will ensure transactions made between European organisations remain in Europe. In the past, transactions would pass through a US datacentre to be processed, but the €175m project will mean transactions never have to leave Europe.

Swift’s network, known as Swift FIN, sends an average of 17 million financial transaction messages between banks every day across 209 countries. About 8,000 financial services businesses use it. During 2010, it processed more than four billion financial transactions.

The DA project involved building an underground datacentre in Switzerland, which is near completion. The datacentre is underground to improve security and use natural cooling to reduce the carbon footprint.

“The purpose is to improve security and reliability as well as keep European data in Europe.”

Fish says all data from existing centres is to be transferred to the new datacentre in a meticulous manner, due to the highly sensitive financial transaction information being moved.

“We have to move it bit by bit so we can fall back to the other sites if required.”

Swift is also in the process of overhauling of the technology in its FIN service, and is planning an initiative to upgrade customer security hardware.

Fish said the company always carries its projects out slowly, with large projects taking years to complete: “We would never do a big bang at Swift.”


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