Local banks will now connect directly to global SWIFT network after the High Court dismissed a petition filed by a local agent of the global transaction platform opposing a Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) directive to bypass third party bureaus when accessing the network.
Kenya Commerce Exchange Service Bureau limited (Kenex) had complained that the directive by the banking regulator in May last year was made in violation of CBK Prudential Guidelines 2013, which provide that financial institutions are at liberty to choose providers for their infrastructure.
The firm further said its role in the process is to extend connectivity to banks to enable them send messages without connecting to SWIFT directly.
SWIFT is a platform used by financial institutions to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardised system of codes. Its operations are overseen by a collaboration of central banks comprising the G-10 countries with the lead overseer being the National Bank of Belgium (NBB).
Kenex, therefore, argued that as a bureau that merely offers SWIFT connectivity, it is not a payment services provider, hence the CBK cannot direct it to make an application regulation under the National Payment Systems Act.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi however agreed with CBK’s submission that Kenex, being a facilitator in the banks payment system, falls within the meaning of a payment service provider and hence falls under its regulator sphere.
The Court also found that there was evidence that CBK held meetings with the company before making issuing its directive, hence the agent cannot claim it was not given an opportunity to be heard.