The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) has launched an instant payment system that dramatically accelerates cross-border transactions both to and from Europe. This initiative, part of the European Payment Council’s One-Leg-Out Instant Credit Transfer scheme (OCT Inst), operates continuously, bringing a new dynamic to the realm of global financial transactions.
As the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services, SWIFT stands at the forefront of global financial communications. Operating as a member-owned cooperative, SWIFT’s core mission is to offer a robust platform for messaging and communication standards, essential for smooth financial operations worldwide. With over 11,500 connected banking and securities organizations across more than 200 countries, SWIFT’s network facilitates vital financial conversations without directly managing funds or accounts.
According to Swift’s press release, the OCT Inst scheme, now live, permits cross-border payments to and from Europe to be processed continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This significant advancement followed a successful proof of concept earlier this year, where SWIFT collaborated with Iberpay, a leading European payment system. Notably, several major banks, including BBVA, CaixaBank, and Santander from Spain, as well as international banks like ANZ and the National Australia Bank from Australasia, Itaú Unibanco from Brazil, and Lloyds Banking Group from the UK, were integral to this initiative. This collaboration marked a significant achievement as dozens of international payments were successfully processed, reaching Spanish accounts within seconds.
Aligning with upcoming European legislation, SWIFT is adapting its system to offer instant payments at costs comparable to traditional payments. A key feature of this legislation is the mandatory verification of beneficiary details before initiating a payment. SWIFT is addressing this through the integration of its Payment Pre-validation with domestic Confirmation of Payee schemes. This strategic move ensures compliance across the Eurozone and enhances the security and efficacy of international transactions.
The launch of this instant payment system has been met with widespread acclaim from the international banking community. Industry leaders from institutions like Santander, Banco ITAU Unibanco SA, ANZ, BBVA, National Australia Bank, and BNP Paribas have expressed their support for the initiative, acknowledging its potential to refine customer experiences and advance global banking practices. Their endorsement underscores the industry’s readiness to embrace this transformative approach to international payments.
For example, Carmen Rey Poza, Swift Global Product Owner at Santander, said:
“This initiative leverages existing rails and connections, so there’s no need for big developments and investments, and offers not only the much desired ‘instantaneity’ but also the capacity to track your payments. It will improve significantly the customer experience for both senders and receivers.”
CBI, an Italian firm specializing in digital services, further supports this trend by extending its Confirmation of Payee service to the European level through SWIFT’s Payment Pre-validation. This move enhances the system’s reliability and security, reflecting the ongoing evolution of digital banking services.
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