B2B Payments

SWIFT Signals Further Openness To Blockchain?

The movement to bring blockchain to cross-border payments proceeds apace.

Might SWIFT be giving a nod, at least partially, toward the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT)? As noted by OracleTimes, it seems the messaging network that ties banks and other financial firms together may indeed be open to DLT — if not directly, then deployed by some of its network.

In an interview with CNBC, SWIFT Asia-Pacific Managing Director Lisa O’Connor said that some of its members are indeed using blockchain. One caveat? SWIFT is not planning to use blockchain directly in efforts to settle transactions done between banks.

“We’d be very open to working with DLT platforms [that] are looking at that, but we are not in the market ourselves to do things like multi-lateral netting, to do the clearing of transactions,” said O’Connor, adding that “that’s not what SWIFT does. At our core, we are a platform, and we are a place where we could connect up potentially to those infrastructures. I think that it’s really interesting, everything that’s gone on in the payments space around DLT.”

In reference to competitive movements, such as with Ripple (with XRP, for example, and other payment offerings), the executive said that as gpi gains traction, “I would say the numbers speak for themselves, in that $300 billion a day is done across the SWIFT network,” she said. The news comes as SWIFT gpi is slated, according to OracleTimes, to work with R3’s Corda Settler platform, which is blockchain-based.

Separately, earlier this week, ACI Worldwide said it has extended a relationship with a South African bank, Capitec Bank, to support card and non-card payments through the UP Retail Payments solution, billed in a press release as “an integrated platform for all payment channels.” The retail payments solution is based on the Universal Payments Framework, and boosts the number of self-service options for Capitec as it expands its corporate banking efforts.

“We anticipate significant growth in transaction volume over the next 10 years, as a variety of innovative digital [payment] products are launched. The combination of scalability and flexibility that ACI’s UP Retail Payments solution offers will not only support that growth, but also ensure we’re future-proofing our payments environment,” said Japie Britz, systems development manager for card processing at Capitec.

Elsewhere, Forbes said, per an interview with Craig Ramsey, head of real-time payments (RTP) at ACI Worldwide, that 2019 will see “significant” strides in real-time payments.

“Once we get the merchants and the big institutions recognizing the benefits of RTP, then adoption will rapidly settle in. [The year] 2019 is about Request For Payment (RFP). That is going to be a big driver [in new] services,” he said. As for the competitive landscape, “If competitors offer these services in a stack of services, once merchants recognize benefits of RTP, they will all want it very quickly. If banks aren’t supporting it, they will see a reduction in their business.”

By way of background, as Forbes noted: In RFP, a biller can send an electronic request for payment. A customer can respond to that request through the use of mobile phone or laptop and make the payment as a credit push, according to Ramsey.

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