Cross-border payments are currently slow, expensive and opaque. Ripple offers sub second efficiently priced payments using a variant of blockchain technology. In response, SWIFT has launched GPII, same day credit of funds, up front pricing and payment tracking. This article explores the two solutions, and what they mean for treasurers.
Ripple is disrupting this model with sub second cross-border payments with automated best pricing from its network. Since Ripple payments are nearly instant, their model removes credit and liquidity risk from the process, thus lowering bank (and societal) costs considerably. Since the network finds the best price for exchange and liquidity, pricing is optimised and customers are no longer locked in to the wide spreads currently reflected in bank board rates.
Ripple announced 10 new bank customers Wednesday, including BBVA and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, bringing the total to 75. The blockchain-savvy newcomer offers a so-called Interledger Protocol for connecting payment networks and distributed ledgers that financial institutions can use to send and settle international payments among one another. Potentially, this would allow them to bypass the traditional correspondent banking model in which a payment makes several hops across a network of banks that have direct relationships. It’s essentially an alternative to Swift, the incumbent and guardian of the correspondent banking model.
Rising to the challenge, the Society for Worldwide International Financial Telecommunication is adding some modern technology components to its messaging network, which is used by 11,000 banks. It’s working on a FedEx-style tracker for international payments called Global Payments Innovation that bankers have been raving about. GPI, which is due to go live May 23, will provide API access to real-time data about the status of an international payment as it passes through each bank in a correspondent banking chain. Banks will then need to build their own applications that present this information, dashboard-style, to their corporate clients; they may end up making it a screen in an existing electronic banking portal.
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