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Russia's alternative to SWIFT

Authored by Tom Luongo,

During the ruble crisis of 2014/15 Russia announced in the wake of U.S. and European sanctions over reunifying with Crimea that it would begin building a domestic electronic financial transfer system, an alternative to SWIFT.

That system, System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), is not only now functioning in Russia, according to a report from RT it now handles the financial transfer data for more than half of Russia’s institutions.

According to Anatoly Aksakov, head of the Russian parliamentary committee on financial markets:

The number of users of our internal financial messages’ transfer system is now greater than that of those using SWIFT. We’re already holding talks with China, Iran and Turkey, along with several other countries, on linking our system with their systems,” Aksakov said. “They need to be properly integrated with each other in order to avoid any problems with using the countries’ internal financial messaging systems.”

This is a follow up to last month’s boast by the Russians that their system was seeing a lot of international interest.  How much of this is boast and how much of it is reality remains to be seen, but the important point here is that the minute the U.S. weaponized SWIFT for use in its foreign policy, something like this was bound to occur.

China has its own internal system.  And other countries are building theirs as well.

The SWIFT Cost

A common theme on this blog is that control is an illusion.  Power is ephemeral.  The best way to exercise your power is to have it but never use it.  Because once you do use it you define for your enemies the costs of their lack of compliance to your edicts.

And if there is one thing humans are good at it is responding to known incentives.  Once we can calculate the cost of one behavior over another we can then decide which one is more important to us.

Once costs of staying in SWIFT rise above the bene...

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