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The future of payments and securities: Faster, Smarter, Better

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Swift has embarked on a strategy that will enable seamless transactions between accounts with end-to-end transparency and predictability. Chief Strategy Officer David Watson explains how this transition will impact payments and securities worldwide.

We live in a world of incredible change, intensified even further by the challenge of a global pandemic. New competition, propelled by innovative technology, is disrupting the financial industry, putting existing business models increasingly under threat.

SWIFT, as a trusted infrastructure provider to our community of over 11,000 institutions, is evolving to meet that challenge. In September, we outlined our vision: that payments and securities transactions should be instant, frictionless and transparent, with end-to-end integrity and global reach.

We will deliver on this ambitious goal by transforming our SWIFT platform, leveraging our already strong assets – like SWIFT gpi, cloud and APIs – to go beyond today’s capabilities to manage end-to-end transactions. We will mutualize services like fraud detection, data analytics and transaction tracking, reducing costs that are typically carried by each bank individually. Crucially, we will make sure everyone using our platform can adopt and take advantage of the new benefits at their own pace through backward compatibility.

There are inherent challenges of course. When you are dealing with 180 different currencies and even more regulatory jurisdictions, the financial services community has to navigate a thicket of complexities and the operational complications that come with it. However, by putting data at the center of the process and allowing all parties in the chain to access that data, we will improve the whole experience.

now is the right time to pave the way for better, instant and frictionless transactions

Given the adoption of ISO 20022-based messaging for cross-border payments, now is the right time to pave the way for better, instant and frictionless transactions. Of course, we have to do this in a way that helps the fastest movers progress quickly but doesn’t leave anyone behind, so interoperability between existing and future infrastructure is critical. The new platform will handle the translations between different formats during the transition, alleviating any pain banks feel and enabling them to realize benefits of ISO 20022 faster.

Stronger together

It has always been a core part of our DNA that if there is something that all players in the industry have to do, we should be able to find a way to either do it for everyone or help them do it much more easily. By talking the same, standardized language all around the world, we are ideally positioned to ask what services we can deliver for our community, and have our members decide individually which of our services they want to use.

The platform we are looking to develop as the next part of this transformation is going to optimize a set of common transaction process services and will build on many of the offerings we have today. We can look at delivering standardized data analytics across our 11,000+ members or an easier way to handle pre-validation and put the service at the center so it can be accessed in a standardized manner. Furthermore, improved data quality along with advanced analytics and insights will pave the way for financial institutions to offer new value-added services and further enhance the end-customer experience.

This new approach will also help financial institutions to improve the payments experience for SMEs and consumers. We are currently working with over 20 banks to develop a new low-value cross border service for these segments, with the ambition to make cross-border payments fast, transparent, easy and brilliantly simple for everyone.

I am pleased to report that since we launched this new strategy back in September, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. This confirms what our community was telling us over the many months of analysis and engagement prior to our announcement. Together, the whole industry shares our vision for payments and securities transactions – and together we are making it happen.

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