Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

The Emirates Group

Best in Class Treasury Solution in the Middle East Highly Commended: Emirates Airlines

Graham Pepe, Emirates Airlines and John Murray, Citi

As a corporate dealing with multiple financial institutions, Emirates Airlines needed to first understand the Message Implementation Guidelines (MIGs) of all the banks they wanted to work with. They turned to Citi and have worked with SWIFT MyStandards to provide the solution.

Photo of Graham Pepe, Emirates Airlines and John Murray, Citi.

Umar Pirzada

Manager Treasury – Banking, Systems & Procedures PMO – Corporate Treasury

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Emirates is a global connector of people and places and an enabler for trade and tourism. With a fleet of 258 fuel efficient aircraft, the multi-award winning carrier flies to more than 150 destinations across six continents. Emirates is the industry’s largest operator of Boeing 777s with more than 160 in the fleet. The airline is also the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380 with 95 currently in its fleet. A total of 216 aircraft, worth US$108bn, are on the order books.

in partnership with

SWIFT MyStandards is a key part of the solution for Emirates Airlines

The challenge

As a multinational corporate dealing with multiple financial institutions, Emirates needed to first understand the Message Implementation Guidelines (MIGs) of all the banks they wanted to work with. The guidelines are typically documented in different ways across a variety of incompatible documentation formats. It is often difficult to clarify the needs and understand what you have to update if you want to start working with an additional bank. On-boarding a new destination required a lot of time to integrate payment systems with the respective banks. Emirate’s application development team were required to be dependent on banks during file format testing and it took a lot of time to get clarity on any new regulatory changes which needed to be complied with.

Umar Pirzada, Manager Treasury – Banking, Systems & Procedures PMO – Corporate Treasury explains, “Our objective was to have a self-service platform where the IT team managing the XML file formats is not dependent on banks to test the file format and to reduce the turnaround time in enabling efficient banking operations for new destinations.”

The solution

Emirates turned to Citi, who has provided them with digital access to cutting-edge technology that addresses speed to market. Citi has embraced the use of a digital enabler through a partnership and collaboration with SWIFT and together they have developed a new tool called SWIFT MyStandards, which simplifies on-boarding and the testing process for payment files, providing access to Emirates to drive and speed up the development of ISO 20022.

The SWIFT MyStandards Readiness Portal is a cloud-based on-boarding and testing tool, so that it could share Citi formatting guidelines in an easy-to-use interactive environment and start file structure and content validation testing in parallel with its planned account-opening process.

Best practice and innovation

Centralising, implementing and using standards-related information, which often involves a lot of time and resources across different departments can be a large undertaking for any organisation. MyStandards is an industry initiative, gathering message specifications from major banks and market practice groups in a central, user-friendly and up-to-date web platform. It simplifies the communication, implementation and maintenance of all standards-related information between Emirates Airlines and its banks.

Pirzada comments, “MyStandards is the platform where documentation about the MT and ISO 20022 standards is published. It eases your analysis and understanding of the message formats.”

Pirzada concludes, “The SWIFT MyStandards tool introduced to us by Citi has helped us independently test XML format changes in different regions globally before even sending the files across for testing to the bank. This has saved us implementation time and effort by avoiding the to and fro communication. The confidence level before UAT is much higher and the number of rounds of testing required with the bank have reduced leading to saving on both sides. This is a highly recommended tool for corporates who manage XML development on their side.”

Key benefits

  • User-friendly solution that enables Emirates to test messages and validate compliance with the Citi specifications in a self-service approach.

  • Consistent process and centralised format across the Citi network on a single web portal.

  • Self-service internet testing using the Readiness Portal.

  • Clear view on the testing activities and on-boarding process.

  • It provides Emirates with multi-format documentation such as PDF, Excel and XML.

  • Streamlined user experience as they have the information that is relevant to them.

  • It provides powerful comparisons to understand the small differences between countries or products.

  • Direct support from the portal, ensuring their queries reach the right teams across the network.

  • Receive bank-specific guidelines in an industry-wide representation.

  • Faster on-boarding process with Citi.

Portrait of Umar Pirzada

Umar Pirzada

Manager Treasury – Banking, Systems & Procedures PMO – Corporate Treasury

Umar Pirzada has been with the Emirates Group since 2007 and after having worked at a number of positions within the finance department at the airline, he is currently responsible for banking, systems & procedures and the project management office in corporate treasury since 2015. His core expert areas include business transformation, programme/project management and technology.

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