Banking & finance

ICC and Swift unveil first API standards for guarantees and standby letters of credit

  • 13 August 2023

ICC and Swift, the global leader in secure financial messaging services, have released the first application programming interface (API) industry standards for bank guarantees and standby letters of credit.

The collaboration brings together ICC and Swift members, including banks, corporates, fintech platforms, and service providers to create market-leading industry standards to streamline the entire life cycle of financial instruments, including issuance, advising, amendments, cancellations and claims. 

In addition to providing a light footprint, APIs will help in providing standardization and  real-time visibility which will enhance interoperability, operational efficiency and enable seamless integration of banking capabilities into corporate treasury, enterprise resource planning systems and third-party platforms, specifically for guarantees and standby letters of credit.  

The API model is now ready for testing, implementation and adoption by the industry. It aligns with SWIFT Message Types (MT) standards and future ISO 20022 compliance to minimise disruption to existing trade systems. This approach ensures a future-proof implementation and addresses the urgent need for standardisation in the trade API space. 

Andrew Wilson, ICC Global Policy Director, said:

“The completion of the standard model API for guarantees and standby letters of credit is a great step forward towards interoperability and digitisation of trade finance. The cooperation with Swift is essential to reach this point, and we are confident it will lead to further development for other trade finance services after a successful implementation phase.” 

Samuel Mathew, ICC Banking Commission Steering Group Vice-Chair and Global Head of Documentary Trade at Standard Chartered, said: “These API standards for guarantees reflect the technical expertise and collaboration within the working group, and address the reality and needs of the market. The result is a standardised set of APIs with future trade ISO compliance flexibility. We are confident the industry will adopt these standards for seamless integration and data movement. This API is the first of its kind in the trade domain, and the working group aims to deliver similar specifications for the entire trade product in the near future.” 

Shirish Wadivkar, Global Head of Wholesale Payments and Trade Strategy at Swift said: “The unified Trade Guarantee API standards will facilitate seamless and structured data exchanges, making multi-bank interactions – which is a critical process – much more efficient. As adoption of the standards accelerates, businesses will also benefit from improved security and liquidity in the guarantees space. This is part of Swift’s continued collaboration with ICC and the community to create a future-ready digital trade ecosystem, anchored in common standards and interoperability.” 

The detailed API specifications can be found at  

The ICC Banking Commission is a global rule-making body for the banking industry and a worldwide forum of trade finance experts whose common goal is to facilitate international trade finance. 

Find out more about our work on harmonising standards for digital global trade.