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Swift to move into low-value consumer payments market

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Interbank messaging network Swift is to move into the low-value remittance market, providing member banks with the means to make instanteous transactions across borders for small and medium-sized companies and consumers

The banking co-operative is working with over 20 banks to develop the service, which builds on the strength of Swift gpi and the high-speed rails that have already transformed the business of high-value payments.

The initiative will enable consumers and SMEs to benefit from predictable payments, with costs and processing times known upfront, and real-time status available to both originator and beneficiary customers via their financial institutions.

David Watson, chief strategy officer at Swift, says: “The success of Swift gpi, which is used by thousands of banks and carries billions of payments globally, enables ever-faster transaction processing times and transparency. And it now provides us with the opportunity to transform the experience in the SME and consumer payment markets.”

Last week, the first payments through the new service were successfully exchanged between banks who are helping to develop it, including Bank of China, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, KEB Hana Bank, MYbank, National Australia Bank, SMBC, Standard Bank, StoneX, UniCredit and Wells Fargo.

An additional seven banks will participate in a pilot phase starting at the end of October: Banca Intesa, BBVA, DNB, HSBC, Sberbank of Russia, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered.

The service is expected to be available to all gpi financial institutions in 2021.

Lucy Hawley, head of CBFX & multicurrency payments at Barclays, comments: “Customer needs and expectations are changing as the world is becoming increasingly digital and instant, and cross-border payments are no exception to this. Customers want to know upfront how much their beneficiary will receive and when they will be credited, while still feeling confident that their payment will be made seamlessly and securely, direct from their bank account. This is exactly what we have achieved, a service for low-value cross-border payments that is transparent, predictable, frictionless and simple so that customers can focus on running their business or securing their holiday, not how they pay for it.”

The new initiative will pitch banks into a market dominated by new challengers such as TransferWise and Revolut and other carriers that provide low-value remittance corridors across borders.

Marc Recker, global head of clearing products, cash management, Deutsche Bank, says: “With corporates now profiting from improved cost-transparency, speed of execution and predictability of their payments, the plausible next step is to enable SMEs and consumers to reap similar benefits for their lower value end-to-end cross-border payments”.

Shirish Wadivkar, global head, correspondent banking products, Standard Chartered, adds: “We aim to deliver a better experience than close-loop cross-border payments systems can through an open gpi ecosystem.”

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