Structured Financial Messaging System

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Structured Financial Messaging System (SFMS) is a secure messaging standard developed to serve as a platform for intra-bank and inter-bank applications. It is an Indian standard similar to SWIFT (Society for World-wide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) which is the international messaging system used for financial messaging globally. SFMS can be used practically for all purposes of secure communication within the bank and between banks. The SFMS was launched on December 14, 2001 at IDRBT. SFMS has a number of special features and it is a modularized and web enabled software, with a flexible architecture facilitating centralized or distributed deployment. The access control is through Smart Card based user access and messages are secured by means of standard encryption and authentication services conforming to ISO standards. RBI applications like Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), Negotiated Dealing System (NDS), Security Settlement System (SSS) and Integrated Accounting System (IAS) have interface with SFMS and RTGS uses SFMS for messaging.

The intra-bank part of SFMS, which is most important, is used by the banks to take full advantage of the secure messaging facility it provides. The inter-bank messaging part is useful for applications like Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), Real Time Gross settlement System (RTGS), Delivery Versus Payments (DVP), Centralized Funds Management System (CFMS) etc. The SFMS provides easy to use Application Program Interfaces (APIs), which can be used to integrate all existing and future applications with the SFMS. Several Banks have integrated it with their core or centralized banking software.

In order to explore how SFMS can be used for Mobile Payments in India, let us look at the scope of different Message types, that it provides. They are (a) several messages with specific INFINET (INdian FInancial NETwork) Format Number (IFN) for each of the IFC (INFINET Format Category) message, (b)Proprietary Messages and (c) System Messages. The IFC and IFN follow the pattern of SWIFT standards. The following are the categories of IFC messages.