SWIFT Is Trialing a New Payment System to Take on Fintechs and Blockchain Tech
- The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced its decision to launch a pilot Global Payment Initiative (GPI) service which aims to compete with the growing threat of competing blockchain and fintech solutions provided by institutions like Ripple, JP Morgan and Transferwise.
- Equipped to enable speedy identification and elimination of errors and omissions in payment data such as missing or incorrect beneficiary information or incomplete regulatory information, SWIFT hopes the GPI payments service will enable speedy and seamless transactions, thereby reducing delays and costs, as well as improving customer experience.
- With its membership still growing, IIN promises banks the ability to resolve errors and compliance issues speedily by sharing information on a mutual distributed ledger.
- SWIFT’s GPI, on the other hand, uses an Application Programming Interface (API) which enables banks to access each other’s data to validate recipient account information before payment is processed, thereby avoiding errors and delays.
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SWIFT is fighting back against cross-border payments challengers
- Nonetheless, inadequacies in the existing system have seen a multitude of offerings from fintechs and incumbents emerge, including Ripple and the Interbank Information Network (IIN) spearheaded by JPMorgan Chase with participation from over 130 banks.
- This blockchain-based platform gives all participants real-time access to the information shared on the distributed ledger.
- Moreover, given that banks are increasingly broadening their use of APIs — not least for customer data-sharing driven by open banking — the system could offer much easier implementation than a blockchain-based solution.
- JPMorgan's participation in SWIFT's pilot, despite leading the IIN initiative, implies it's hedging its bets over the possibility that the API-based alternative could hold more promise.
- As such, SWIFT's pilot is likely driven by banks looking to curb costs and compete better with fintechs — UK-based money transfer firm TransferWise typically charges 1% for transfers, compared with average cross-border transfer costs of 7%, per the World Bank.