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ISO 20022: What is ISO 20022 for Dummies [+ISO 20022 Crypto List]

What is ISO 20022, and how does it compare to SWIFT? Our Ultimate Guide to ISO 20022 for Dummies explains everything you need to know. Plus, we'll share a complete ISO 20022 crypto list.

by | Sep 8, 2022

ISO 20022 is a new international monetary standard that is guaranteed to change the world of banking – and cryptocurrency. But what is ISO 20022 exactly, and how does it compare to the current SWIFT system?

In this Guide to ISO 20022 for Dummies, we will explain precisely what ISO 20022 is and its advantages over the current SWIFT system. We’ll also share a complete ISO 20022 crypto list and explain how ISO 20022 will affect cryptocurrency.

Ready to learn all about ISO 20022? Let’s go!

Here’s what we’ll cover.


What does ISO 20022 mean?


Is ISO 20022 the same as SWIFT?


Does ISO 20022 replace SWIFT?


ISO 20022 Advantages


How will ISO 20022 affect cryptocurrency?


What does ISO 20022 compliant mean?


ISO 20022 Crypto List

ISO 20022 for dummies - finanical institutions switch from SWIFT to ISO 20022

ISO 20022 is pronounced, “I-S-O twenty-oh-two-two.”

What does ISO 20022 mean?

You’re probably wondering – what does ISO 20022 mean, and what exactly is it?

ISO 20022 is a special messaging format for exchanging financial information. In other words, ISO 20022 is a common language for payments worldwide.

The ISO 20022 messaging language is open, global, and standardized. This means that, by using ISO 20022 to create and send electronic financial messages, financial institutions can ensure they are exchanging clear and consistent data.

ISO 20022 messages can be understood by anyone and used for all financial business transactions. As a result, financial institutions can exchange transaction data more effectively and efficiently. Since financial organizations rely on accurate and real-time data, increased efficiency means that organizations can operate more cost-effectively and provide better services.

Is ISO 20022 the same as SWIFT?

ISO 20022 is not the same as SWIFT. That said, SWIFT is the predecessor to ISO 20022.

Now, you already have an idea of what ISO 20022 is. But what is SWIFT exactly? To better understand SWIFT vs ISO 20022 and their differences, let’s look at what SWIFT is.

What is SWIFT?

Like ISO 20022, SWIFT is a messaging format that financial institutions use to transmit data through standardized codes.

SWIFT messaging standards were developed to allow financial institutions to communicate, regardless of language. The SWIFT messaging network was also designed to automate the transmission and processing of financial data.

Who created the SWIFT system?

In 1973, more than 200 banks from 15 countries formed a cooperative – the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The goal was to determine how to communicate about cross-border payments. In other words, the group hoped to create a common language that could be used to exchange financial data across the globe.

In 1977, SWIFT went live. SWIFT replaced Telex technology.

When it was first introduced, SWIFT offered several services, including a messaging platform, a computer system to validate and route messages, and a set of message standards.

SWIFT vs ISO 20022: What is the difference between SWIFT and ISO 20022?

So, then, what is the difference between SWIFT and ISO 20022?

The format is the most significant difference between ISO 20022 and SWIFT. That is, each messaging language uses unique message components and ways of expressing data.

There are also other differences (and similarities) between SWIFT and ISO 20022. Let’s compare SWIFT vs ISO 20022.


Messaging Attribute SWIFT ISO 20022
Data Represented Using Tags Tags
Message Length Concise More verbose (i.e. longer form)
Message Structure 3 headers (i.e. {1:} Basic Header Block. {2:} Application Header Block. {3:} User Header Block), message content, trailer Group Header, Payment Information, Credit Transfer Transaction Information
Readability Difficult for people to read Easy for people to read
Syntax SWIFT proprietary (also known as MT) XML (Extensible Markup Language) and ASN.1
Format Text-based Text-based
Supported Alphabets Latin Latin and Non-Latin


When SWIFT was introduced in the 1970s, data was much more expensive to transmit. Therefore, SWIFT messages needed to be as concise as possible. Unfortunately, this conciseness means that the data is cumbersome and difficult to read.

ISO 20022, on the other hand, is a more modern messaging format. This messaging structure uses more tags, contains more data, and is XML-based. ISO 20022 also allows for the use of non-Latin alphabets. This means that data can be transmitted in non-Latin languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Mandarin, etc.

Here is a short example to help you visualize the differences between SWIFT and ISO 20022 messages.


ISO 20022 financial message compared to SWIFT message

Image: Compact


As you can see, ISO 20022 messages are much longer and more detailed. Although this requires more processing power and storage, it provides much richer data. And, as we all know, data is king in today’s technological world!

Does ISO 20022 replace SWIFT?

ISO 20022 will replace SWIFT. However, this transition will be gradual.

Beginning in August 2022, ISO 20022 messages will be enabled for cross-border payments and cash reporting businesses. From this point, organizations can start using ISO 20022 standards on an opt-in basis. In November 2022, ISO 20022 will become available for all business use.

Following this introduction of ISO 20022 messaging, there will be a three-year period where both systems (ISO 20022 and SWIFT) will coexist. This overlap will allow financial institutions to adopt this new technology at their own pace.

The original SWIFT system will be entirely replaced by ISO 20022 in November 2025.

ISO 20022 Advantages – Why Replace SWIFT?

You might be wondering – why replace SWIFT in the first place? Well, as you now know, SWIFT was initially introduced in the 1970s. Thus, it is outdated in many ways.

As a new and improved international messaging standard, ISO 20022 offers many benefits. These advantages are the most significant reasons to switch from SWIFT to ISO 20022.

ISO 20022 Advantages

ISO 20022 offers the following benefits for financial institutions and their customers.

  • Greater automation
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Significant cost savings
  • Lower cost services
  • Ability to reduce financial crime
  • Improved customer experience (e.g. real-time reporting, instant payments)
  • Data-driven insights
  • Interoperability


-> Learn more about the benefits of ISO 20022 for banks, businesses, and consumers here: ISO 20022 Benefits


Ok, here’s what we know so far:

  • ISO 20022 is an international convention for financial messages.
  • This standard offers many benefits over the traditional SWIFT system, including rich data and faster, cheaper transactions.
  • ISO 20022 will completely replace SWIFT in 2025.

But what does this mean for cryptocurrency?

How will ISO 20022 affect cryptocurrency?

It is unclear exactly how ISO 20022 standards will affect cryptocurrency. However, it is believed that ISO 20022-compliant cryptos will experience accelerated adoption by central banks and the traditional financial system.

The idea is this – if a cryptocurrency is ISO 20022 compliant, it could be assigned an official ISO code. In this case, financial institutions could easily use the crypto coin for cross-border payments. In addition, ISO 20022 coins may be treated more leniently by regulatory bodies.

Ultimately, this means that ISO-compliant crypto coins and tokens could see mass adoption and, therefore, experience significant price increases.

What does ISO 20022 compliant mean?

Now, you might be wondering – what makes a crypto ISO 20022 compliant?

A crypto blockchain must meet the following criteria to be ISO 20022 compliant:

  • XML compatible
  • Fulfill all the SWIFT communication requirements
  • Be able to communicate customer data via the blockchain

Although compliance seems straightforward, very few cryptos are currently ISO 20022 compliant.

Which crypto is ISO 20022 compliant? Let’s take a look.

ISO 20022 Crypto List

If you’re wondering which crypto is ISO 20022, here’s a list of all the ISO 20022 coins.

ISO 20022 Coins

To date, only 8 crypto coins are ISO 20022 compliant (out of more than 20,000 that exist!).

These ISO 20022 coins include:

  1. XRP (Ripple) – Ripple is a member of the ISO 20022 Standards Body
  2. XLM (Stellar) – Stellar is also a member of the ISO 20022 Standards Body
  3. ALGO (Algorand)
  4. HBAR (Hedera)
  5. IOTA (IOTA)
  6. ADA (Cardano)
  7. XDC (XDC Network)
  8. QNT (Quant)

ISO 20022 Ripple (XRP)

Many people wonder – is XRP an ISO coin? The answer is yes, XRP is an ISO coin. In fact, Ripple is one of the largest ISO 20022 compliant cryptos.

In addition to being compliant with ISO standards, Ripple sits on the ISO 20022 Standards Body. This means that members of the Ripple organization may play a role in developing and implementing the standard.

Ripple was designed as a digital payment network for lightning-fast international financial settlements. Therefore, Ripple could see mass adoption by financial institutions thanks to this compliance.

Read more about Ripple here – Coming Soon.

Is HBAR ISO 20022 compliant?

HBAR (Hedera Hashgraph) is not officially ISO 20022 complaint

Although no company representative or ISO 20022 rep has confirmed HBAR’s compliance, Hedera Hashgraph is rumoured to be ISO 20022 complaint.

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