Straight-through processing (STP)

Straight-through processing (STP) enables the entire trade process for capital markets and payment transactions to be conducted electronically without the need for re-keying or manual intervention, subject to legal and regulatory restrictions. The concept has also been transferred into other sectors including energy (oil, gas) trading and banking, and financial planning.

Currently, the entire trade lifecycle, from initiation to settlement, is a complex labyrinth of manual processes, taking several days. Such processing for equities transactions is commonly referred to as T+3 processing, as it usually takes three business days from the “Trade” being executed to the trade being settled. Industry practitioners, particularly in the US, viewed STP as meaning at least ‘same-day’ settlement or faster, ideally minutes or even seconds. The goal was to minimise settlement risk for the execution of a trade and its settlement and clearing to occur simultaneously. However, for this to be achieved, multiple market participants must realize high levels of STP. In particular, transaction data would need to be made available on a just-in-time basis which is a considerably harder goal to achieve for the financial services community than the application of STP alone. After all, STP itself is merely an efficient use of computers for transaction processing.