Investment banks including ABN Amro, Citibank and HSBC have signalled their commitment to the International Standards Team harmonisation group. The group aims to develop an XML-based payment "kernel" to be used by banks to send payment instructions. It will publish detailed plans next year.
A common standard will mean that existing financial standards bodies will have to resolve their differences.
The creation of a messaging standard will also help to cut banks' IT costs by allowing different payment systems to talk to one another without the need for specially written interfaces.
Software suppliers have also released products to automate the transactions. IBM launched Websphere Business Integration for Financial Networks last month. It is a software product designed to enable companies to automate trade processing over different financial networks, including the new Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift) IP network.
Swift has 7,000 financial institution members and is a global co-operative that handles security, messages and international payments between banks through its X.25 and IP networks.