SWIFT’s Global Payments Innovation Initiative gains traction

cross border payments

SWIFT announced that 73 banks worldwide have now joined its global payments innovation (GPI) initiative, which aims to improve the speed, transparency and predictability of cross-border.

Banks that have recently joined the financial messaging services provider’s 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 GPI initiative,” says Wim Raymaekers, global head of banking market and the initiative’s project lead at SWIFT. “Together, they do nearly 75% 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,” SWIFT announced.

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.

“This new payments tracker is a great example of collaborative innovation,” said Raymaekers. “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 in Geneva at Sibos 2016, SWIFT’s annual financial services event, in September, 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,” said 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.”

An audience survey conducted last month by BNP Paribas among delegates at its annual Cash Management University (CMU) event found that 38% of those polled regarded predictability and payments tracking as the most important benefit of the GPI initiative for a corporate treasurer’s daily activities. Same day use of funds was next, with 27%, followed by transparency of fees (19%) and the transfer of rich information (13%).

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