SWIFT’s initiative to transform cross-border payments

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paymentsAs many as 73 banks worldwide have now joined SWIFT’s global payments innovation initiative, which is designed to improve the cross-border payments experience. Recent banks to join the initiative include, Alfa-Bank, Axis Bank, Banco de Crédito del Peru, Banco do Brasil, Bangkok Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Banque Européenne d’investissement, CaixaBank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Credit Agricole, CTBC Bank, E.Sun Commercial Bank, Fifth Third Bank, ICICI Bank, Itaù Unibanco, Mashreq Bank, Promsvyazbank, Rabobank, Svenska Handelsbanken, Swedbank, TMB Bank and US Bank.

“It is great to see so many banks from all corners of the globe participating in SWIFT’s global payments innovation initiative,” says Wim Raymaekers, Global Head of Banking Market and project lead for this initiative at SWIFT. “Together, they do nearly 75 per cent of all cross-border payments on the SWIFT network. We welcome additional banks to join this open initiative.”

As a part of the initiative, banks will enhance their approach to cross border payments and follow a set of strict business rules designed by SWIFT in collaboration with participating banks. Banks in the initiative will be able to give their corporate clients a dramatically improved payment experience, with same day use of funds, transparency of fees, end-to-end tracking, and transfer of rich payment information.

To enable the end-to-end tracking, SWIFT is developing a database ‘in the cloud’ hosted at SWIFT, to give end-to-end visibility on the status of a payment transaction, from the moment it is sent until it is confirmed – similar to tracking services provided by international shipping companies.

Raymaekers adds, “This new payments tracker is a great example of collaborative innovation. For the first time, banks will be able to give their customers precise information about their payments, in real-time, including confirmation of credit to beneficiary’s account.”

The first phase of the initiative is well underway with a pilot focused on business-to-business payments. Early results from the pilot will be presented at Sibos, SWIFT’s annual financial services event, in September 2016, with the go-live planned for early 2017.

In addition to this first phase, over 40 banks participated in a series of workshops held in Frankfurt, Singapore, London and New York in April and May, and defined a new vision for correspondent banking dubbed “the digital transformation of cross-border payments”. A supporting client-centric and pragmatic roadmap was established to deliver an additional set of data-enhanced payments services, creating more value for customers as well as further reducing operating costs for banks.

“SWIFT’s global payment innovation initiative is a real game-changer”, says Christian Sarafidis, Chief Marketing Officer, SWIFT. “The large number of banks, the new payments tracker, a pilot showing results, and a roadmap to deliver even more value – this initiative is the ‘new standard’ for any bank with cross-border payments.”

SWIFT and the participating banks from the GPII will discuss this challenge and more at Sibos 2016 with specific sessions focused on payments innovation. Follow the debate at swift.com/GPII and join us at Sibos in Geneva.