Busy week for SWIFT

SWIFT has had a busy couple of days in terms of issuing press bulletins. In one, it announced a global payments innovation initiative to dramatically improve the customer experience in correspondent banking by increasing the speed, transparency and predictability of cross-border payments. The initiative will initially focus on a business-to-business payments service supported by participating banks in early 2016, it says.

The new service will help corporates grow their international business, improve supplier relationships, and achieve greater treasury efficiencies. It will enable corporates to receive an enhanced payments service directly from their banks, with the following key features: same day use of funds; transparency and predictability of fees; end-to-end payments tracking; and transfer of rich payment information. The pilot programme will start in early 2016, says SWIFT.

It will operate on the basis of ‘business rules’ captured in multilateral service level agreements (SLAs) between participating banks. SWIFT says the new service is designed to address end-customer needs, without compromising banks’ abilities to meet their compliance obligations, market, credit and liquidity risk requirements. It will operate on SWIFT’s secure and resilient global platform; and participation will be open to any supervised financial institution that is a member of SWIFT and adheres to its business rules.

Gottfried Leibbrandt, CEO, SWIFT said: “Correspondent banking serves the industry with millions of secure cross-border payments day in, day out; with this initiative we are building on those strengths, enabling banks to provide distinctive cross-border payments services and providing real benefits to end customers. This is a critical step in cross-border payments innovation.”

Yawar Shah, chairman, SWIFT said: “This global payments innovation initiative is a reflection of the strength of the SWIFT community and its ability to collaborate and innovate, and deliver a new benchmark in cross-border payments.”

Following the pilot focused on cross-border payments for corporates, SWIFT aims to incorporate additional innovations and deploy new technologies as part of the global payments innovation initiative. SWIFT will work together with the industry to define additional service level agreements that will cater for other client groups, further reducing the costs and frictions arising from compliance, liquidity and processing efficiency considerations involved in cross-border payments.

Wim Raymaekers, head of banking markets, SWIFT, adds: “This initiative is an important first step in driving cross-border payments innovation. As part of the initiative we will continue to develop new and enhanced services, utilising SWIFT’s Innotribe initiative to further engage the FinTech community and explore the application of innovations such as real time payment status tracking, the use of peer-to-peer messaging and blockchain technology.”

A day earlier, SWIFT reported that all existing SGX (Singapore Exchange) SWIFT traffic has been moved to a new SGX SWIFT infrastructure. In addition, SGX securities clearing members will be able to conduct their post-trade processing via this new SGX SWIFT infrastructure as they launch their new back-office systems from July 2016 onwards. SWIFT says the infrastructure supports ISO 20022 messages, that have been successfully tested in the context of the new SGX post-trade system, as well as FIXML messages for clearing.