top of page

Understanding ISO 8583 and ISO 20022: Evolution and Application in Financial Messaging

~ Gustavo Cavazos


In the world of financial messaging standards, NuWave Technologies recognizes the pivotal roles of ISO 8583 and ISO 20022 in enabling secure and efficient communication across financial institutions, payment networks, and stakeholders. While ISO 8583 has historically been the go-to standard for card-based transactions, ISO 20022 is rapidly gaining momentum as a comprehensive messaging framework for diverse financial activities.

In this article, we delve into the evolution, features, and applications of both ISO 8583 and ISO 20022, highlighting their significance in modern financial ecosystems. NuWave understands the importance of leveraging these standards to optimize communication and streamline financial processes for our clients.

1. ISO 8583: The Foundation of Card-Based Transactions

ISO 8583, developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is a messaging standard that defines the format and structure of messages exchanged during electronic financial transactions. Originally designed for card-based transactions such as credit card payments and ATM withdrawals, ISO 8583 has become a cornerstone of the global payments infrastructure. 

a. Structure of ISO 8583 Messages:

  • ISO 8583 messages consist of a series of data elements arranged in a sequential format, with each element representing a specific piece of information related to the transaction.

  • Key components of an ISO 8583 message include the message type indicator (MTI), which identifies the type of transaction, a 16 byte BitMap and associated data elements containing information such as account numbers, transaction amounts, and transaction codes.

b. Application in Card Payments:

  • ISO 8583 is widely used in card-based transactions, including credit card payments, debit card transactions, ATM withdrawals, and point-of-sale (POS) purchases.

  • The standard facilitates secure communication between cardholders, card issuers, acquiring banks, and payment networks, ensuring interoperability and reliability across the payments ecosystem.

2. ISO 20022: The Next Generation of Financial Messaging

ISO 20022 is a newer messaging standard developed by the ISO that aims to provide a comprehensive framework for financial messaging across a wide range of business domains. Unlike ISO 8583, which focuses primarily on card-based transactions, ISO 20022 is designed to support a broader set of financial activities, including payments, securities, trade finance, and foreign exchange.

a. Features of ISO 20022:

  • Rich Data Model: ISO 20022 messages are based on a flexible and extensible data model that supports the representation of complex financial data in a standardized format.

  • XML and JSON Formats: ISO 20022 messages can be encoded in XML or JSON, providing compatibility with modern technologies and facilitating integration with existing systems.

  • Semantic Clarity: ISO 20022 messages use clear and unambiguous semantics, making them easier to interpret and process by both humans and machines.

b. Adoption and Implementation:

  • ISO 20022 is gaining widespread adoption across the financial industry, with many central banks, payment systems, and financial institutions migrating to the standard to enhance interoperability and efficiency.

  • The standard is being used in various domains, including high-value payments, cross-border transactions, securities settlement, and regulatory reporting, driving standardization and harmonization across financial markets.

3. Comparison and Integration:

While ISO 8583 and ISO 20022 serve different purposes and cater to distinct use cases, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many organizations are leveraging both standards in tandem to address the diverse requirements of modern financial ecosystems.

a. Interoperability and Conversion:

  • ISO 20022 being a newer standard is being accompanied by the use of REST interfaces. This is pushing the adoption of REST based interfaces within OLTP environments.

  • Nuwave aims to provide the interoperability for existing NonStop based OLTP systems to quickly integrate standard such as ISO 8583 and  ISO 20022

  • This interoperability could allow organizations to leverage the strengths of each standard while maintaining compatibility with legacy systems and networks.

b. Complementary Use Cases:

  • ISO 8583 remains well-suited for card-based transactions and real-time payment processing, where speed, efficiency, and reliability are paramount.

  • ISO 20022, on the other hand, excels in supporting more complex financial activities, such as securities settlement, cross-border payments, and regulatory reporting, where rich data and interoperability are critical.

4. HPE NonStop support and impact.

NonStop platforms have been at the forefront of implementation and support for multiple types of messaging and communications used within OLTP environments  LightWave Server™ and LightWave Client™ provide a working path towards the inclusion of new technologies such as ISO20022 and the opening of ISO8583 towards a more REST-aware business model.


In conclusion, ISO 8583 and ISO 20022 represent two essential pillars of financial messaging standards, each playing a distinct role in facilitating secure, efficient, and interoperable communication within the global financial ecosystem. While ISO 8583 remains the foundation of card-based transactions, ISO 20022 is driving standardization and harmonization across a broader range of financial activities. By understanding the features, applications, and integration strategies of both standards, organizations can navigate the complexities of modern financial messaging and unlock new opportunities for innovation and collaboration in the digital age within your enterprise.

At NuWave Technologies, our mission is to develop innovative, intuitive enterprise solutions and provide exceptional support, all while making a positive impact. Renowned for our leadership in HPE NonStop integration, our solutions empower mission-critical systems to seamlessly integrate with enterprises, enhancing the world's most valuable data.

Our clientele, which includes numerous Fortune 500 and Global 2000 businesses, chooses NuWave for our unparalleled ability to modernize legacy applications with intuitive and high-performing products. Through our solutions, we vastly improve business performance and efficiency.

At NuWave Technologies, our dedication extends beyond innovation to include sustainability and positive global impact. Join us in shaping a better future for our planet.



bottom of page