Swift tests faster payments for consumers, small businesses

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Swift is working with more than 20 banks in its network to test a service designed to help consumers and small and medium-size companies send low-value cross-border payments with the same speed and transparency benefits larger banks enjoy on Swift rails.

The service operates in tandem with Swift's Global Payments Innovation Initiative operations and the use of high-speed rails currently used for high-value payments.

Swift says the new initiative will allow consumers and smaller businesses to benefit from knowing costs and processing times upfront, and monitoring transactions through real-time status from their banks for both the originator and the beneficiary of the payment.

"The success of Swift GPI, which is used by thousands of banks and carries billions of payments globally, enables ever-faster transaction processing times and transparency," David Watson, chief strategy officer at Swift, said in a Thursday press release. "And it now provides us with the opportunity to transform the experience in the SME and consumer payment markets."

The service is also another step for the new instant-payments digital platform strategy Swift revealed last month. Financial institutions strengthening their position in the B2B space are a key part of that strategy, according to Swift, which cites the importance of small business and consumer payments.

Last week, the first payments through the new service were made between banks that are helping to develop it. The banks, representing a global presence, include Bank of China, Barclays, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, KEB Hana Bank, MYbank, National Australia Bank, SMBC, Standard Bank, Stone X, UniCredit and Wells Fargo.

Others planning to join testing near the end of the month include Banca Intesa, BBVA, DNB, HSBC, Sberbank of Russia, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered.

"Barclays is excited to have been involved in the development of Swift's initiative for low-value cross-border payments," Lucy Hawley, head of CBFX and multi-currency payments at Barclays, said in the release. "Customer needs and expectations are changing as the world is becoming increasingly digital and instant, and cross-border payments are no exception to this."

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Faster payments B-to-B payments P-to-P payments Cross border payments Barclays SWIFT