SWIFT has announced news that 22 global banks recently joined its blockchain proof of concept (PoC) initiative, which is part of the company’s global payments innovation (gpi) service aimed to “re-arm the correspondent banking system for a new age of technological disruption.”
The PoC initiative was launched in January 2017 with six founding banks: ANZ, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, RBC Royal Bank and Wells Fargo. According to Finextra, it was designed to find out whether blockchain can be used by banks to improve the reconciliation of their international nostro accounts in real time. Currently, banks cannot monitor their account positions in real time due to lack of intraday reporting coverage.
“Cross-border payments are like a black box for us,” said Martin Schlageter, head of treasury operations at Swiss healthcare conglomerate Roche. “We don’t know when the funds will be credited, we don’t know what fees will be charged and we also have problems with reconciliation.”
SWIFT gpi delivers an improvement in the speed of cross-border transaction, as well as boosts overall customer experience by giving predictable settlement times and clear statuses. Key features of the service include a secure tracking database in the cloud, accessible via APIs and enhanced business rules.
“The ability to deliver enhanced remittance information alongside the payment will help customers make better decisions along the payment chain, while also creating better efficiency opportunities,” said Tom Halpin, global head of Payments Product Management, HSBC Global Liquidity and Cash Management. “The decision to make gpi available in the ‘cloud’ is also exciting, and we anticipate this will lead to the development of entirely new services that combine SWIFT gpi with capabilities provided by banks, clients and vendors.“
Membership is open to any supervised financial institution that agrees to comply with SWIFT’s business rules, but non-bank organizations can also join the initiative. The company expects additional banks to join in the coming months, with the goal of all countries live by the end of 2017.