SWIFT clocks 13 second cross-border instant payment in global trial

A payment from Australia into Singapore recorded the fastest payment in the trial over SWIFT's gpi instant payments platform.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Secure financial messaging service SWIFT has published the results of its global cross-border instant payments trial, which shows that the fastest payment in the trial only took 13 seconds.

The payments trial over SWIFT's cross-border payments service SWIFT gpi instant and Singapore's domestic instant payment service Fast And Secure Transfers (FAST) showed that a payment from Australia into Singapore and processed onward via FAST clocked in as the fastest payment in the trial.

The trial which involved 17 banks across seven countries – Australia, China, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore and Thailand – recorded that while all payments were processed end-to-end within 25 seconds, the fastest payment recorded from Asia into Singapore was 14 seconds, 15 seconds from Europe, and 20 seconds from North America.

SWIFT added that six country corridors into Singapore were involved in the trial, with the maximum time difference of 12 hours being recorded on the Canada-Singapore corridor. 

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According to SWIFT, its instant gpi payments reuses existing cross-border and domestic payments infrastructure, while eliminating common delays caused by domestic clearance settlement.

Some of the participating banks in the global trial included Australia and New Zealand Banking (ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Westpac, HSBC, Bank of China, and Royal Bank of Canada.

"We are systematically linking domestic instant payment systems on the gpi platform through our existing rails, and Singapore's track record for payments innovation makes it a fitting launch pad for gpi Instant," SWIFT Asia Pacific managing director Eddie Haddad said.

"The successful testing of the Thailand-Singapore corridor also confirms the scalability of gpi instant towards a pan-ASEAN cross-border instant payments service essential for integration across the region.

"The trial is a nod to SWIFT's vision of ensuring that cross-border payments become as seamless and convenient as domestic ones, and speaks to the global scalability of gpi for ubiquitous cross-border instant payments."

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The global trial comes off the back of SWIFT testing its instant gpi payments service using Australia's New Payments Platform, in which payments from China to Australia took 18 seconds. 

ANZ bank, CBA, and National Australia Bank were among some of the banks that participated in the trial during 2018. Other participating banks were from China, Singapore, and Thailand.  

SWIFT said additional tests are planned in other markets, including in Europe with its TARGET Instant Payments Settlement system, ahead of a planned global launch of gpi instant later this year. 

SWIFT also announced a proof of concept earlier this year that trialled its gpi Link gateway that interlinks e-commerce and trading platforms with the SWIFT gpi, using R3's Corda distributed ledger technology (DLT).  

At the time, SWIFT said it has plans to extend the trial to support other DLT, non-DLT, and e-commerce trade platforms.

In its whitepaper released last month, the financial network described its vision for cross-border payments and its aim to make them as seamless and convenient as domestic ones.

In its white paper Payments: Looking to the Future - Instant, Accessible, Ubiquitous (SWIFT – Engineering a payments revolution), SWIFT said facilitating the exchange of value beyond tightly knit domestic, single-currency communities is inherently more complex for banks, and wants its standard to be adopted globally to help all parties involved.

"Importantly, we don't think that cross-border payments challenges should be solved for with closed loop systems. Doing so would easily solve for a subset -- or multiple subsets -- of participants, but value needs to move everywhere -- from every account, to every account," SWIFT wrote.

"Loops create barriers and friction; they reduce fungibility and portability, they limit competition and they fragment liquidity."

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