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SunGard Business Integration, the Israeli subsidiary of the giant SunGard group, announced yesterday that the Bank of Israel has selected its MINT SWIFTNet FIN software system to replace its legacy SWIFT interface environment.

The SWIFT systems handle all international traffic of funds and securities between banks around the world. In keeping with upgrades of standards, the Bank of Israel had to replace its inherited IBM system with an advanced one capable of operating via Internet, explained SunGard Israel's chief executive, Danny Barsella. He added that the systems went into production on Sunday.

The technology for international transfers of funds and securities is regulated by SWIFT, or the nonprofit Society for WorldWide InterbankFunds Transfer, Barsella explained. "Everything banks transfer between themselves, from country to country, passes through SWIFT."

But SWIFT does not only grant services; it also lays out the standards for such transfers. In today's Internet age, it decided that X.25 platforms were not enough: The SWIFT networks must abandon the X.25 platform entirely and operate on IP. That is where SunGard comes in.

Most of the more than 60 SunGard group companies engage in aspects of financial software, but the Herzliya Pituach-based firm is the one that handles interbank integration, Barsella said. "SWIFT ruled that the banks must adopt the Internet standard before the end of 2004, creating a great deal of opportunity for us to sell to customers all over the world," he added.

SunGard had competitors for the Bank of Israel contract, which may have been IBM and SWIFT itself, Barsella said. However, he firmly refused to reveal the financial scope of the contract. "The Bank of Israel chose us, I believe, because of our functionality and professionalism and the fact that we're here in Israel, which facilitates support and implementation," he said.

SunGard Israel does not customarily announce its deals, but another customer is Deutsche Bank, which reportedly recently closed a mammoth deal - again of undisclosed proportions.