International

Cross-Border Grabs Spotlight Amid SWIFT, Blockchain Headlines

Payments infrastructure news tends to be global in scope, as firms and stakeholders eye efficiency and speed in transacting in new and existing markets far-flung in nature.

To that end, the payments messaging service known as SWIFT has gotten the go-ahead to offer up access to the TARGET Instant Payment Settlement scheme to be offered by the Eurosystem. The access becomes official on November 30, with financial firms able to connect after the launch of SWIFTNet Instant. That latter solution lets users access multiple instant payment systems across Europe via single access point, leveraging existing SWIFT infrastructure.

The news comes as the messaging service has said that its continued drive to connect to several clearing and settlement mechanisms will include the aforementioned TIPS, and RT1, which is operated by EBA CLEARING. As noted by PYMNTS in this space, those two schemes facilitate instant domestic payments. That dual availability had been announced in recent months.

In UK, Firms Eye Global Trade (and Payments)

Might the move toward faster payments, and especially cross-border payments, be illustrated in an example seen recently — though writ on a smaller scale — where data that debuted from WorldFirst shows that smaller firms, at least in the U.K., are boosting international trade activity? Last week came the data that as many as one third of the smaller firms surveyed by WorldFirst said they had made at least one transaction across the international stage each month through the second quarter. That’s a 6 percent increase from the first quarter.

A slight majority of mid-sized firms, at 52 percent, transacted outside their domestic borders, which is up sizably from the 37 percent in the first quarter. The value of the transactions was on the rise, too, as transaction transfer values were up 25 percent from 2016 to 2017.

In one example of international initiatives, Visa said it was expanding its presence with an eye on small businesses, operating in Kenya through a new partnership with alternative lender Branch International, which disburses funds through mobile conduits. Branch operates as a mobile small business lender. The partnership would link Visa-friendly SMBs with financing. The merchants, according to reports, can obtain loans of up to $300 with six-month repayment terms through Visa.

In other separate, individual company news, and germane to the world of blockchain, the B2B payments firm known as PayStand said this week that it has integrated with accounting and bookkeeping software firm Xero, with a goal of optimized B2B payments. Through the use of the PayStand Xero plugin, users can accept bank payments across ACH, Smart ACH, eCheck and also card payments, spanning debit and credit options, directly tied to invoices. The firms have noted that the offerings speed up transactions and automate accounting processes.

Beyond what might be termed traditional payment rails and options, and delving into the world of cryptocurrencies, Flow, which focuses on cross-border payments, said that it is boosting its international payment options to underpin cryptocurrency payment processing through BitPay. The latter firm processes cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and bitcoin cash. The relationship brings more than 60 payment methods spanning 200 countries to Flow’s platform.

Also in blockchain, a Singaporean firm, Rate, has grabbed $15 million for its own cross-border payments platform, via token sale, for the platform known as Rate3. The platform aims to let firms translate physical assets to tokens, and to create smart contracts. Rate CEO Jake Goh said in a statement that: “We believe that blockchains have not reached mainstream adoption because the current infrastructure is not ready yet. First, there are no common legal frameworks to tie ownership and control of real-world assets to digital tokens. Second, there are still many differing smart contract standards and lastly, the current identity ecosystem on blockchain is still fragmented.”

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