Belgium-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has officially announced its intention to explore blockchain technology in a global payments innovation initiative meant to improve customer experience by increasing the speed and the reliability of cross-border payments.
The initiative is expected to commence in early 2016, and will focus on a business-to-business payments service supported by participating banks. SWIFT provides its products and services to over 10,800 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate clients.
“This initiative is an important first step in driving cross-border payments innovation. As part of the initiative, we will continue to develop new and enhanced services, utilising SWIFT’s Innotribe initiative to further engage the FinTech community and explore the application of innovations such as real-time payment status tracking, the use of peer-to-peer messaging and blockchain technology,” said Wim Raymaekers, Head of Banking Markets at SWIFT.
Founded in 1973, SWIFT enables its users to exchange automated and standardized financial information securely and reliably, thereby lowering costs, reducing operational risk and eliminating inefficiencies. After the completion of the initiative, SWIFT will work together with industry groups to define additional service level agreements (SLAs) that will cater to client groups, in order to further reduce the costs and friction arising from compliance, liquidity and processing efficiency in international payments.
Many financial institutions and banks have been more-or-less hesitant to use blockchain technology, but with a leading global organization such as SWIFT coming into the picture, the participating banks will get a first-hand experience of the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. And given the enormous potential of the blockchain’s ledger technology—which supports fast, extremely low-cost and reliable transfers—the picture may become a lot rosier.
To obtain more information about the innovation initiative or to participate, please visit swift.com/gpi.