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SWIFT Payments: Looking to the future – instant, accessible, ubiquitous

Executive Summary

Innovations in domestic retail payments have multiplied at a gravity-defying pace in recent years, driving unimaginable improvements. Entire domestic markets have completely transformed the way they shift value.

Facilitating the exchange of value beyond tightly knit domestic, single-currency communities is inherently more complex for banks. Despite this, the world of wholesale cross-border payments has advanced rapidly alongside its domestic kin – at times prospering from domestic progress, at times fostering it.

Below we describe our vision for cross-border payments: to make cross-border payments as seamless and convenient as domestic ones: instant, accessible, ubiquitous.

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

With goods and services moving more quickly and across greater distances than ever before, value needs to shift further, faster. Value transfers must be friction-free. Bank account to bank account. They must also be safe, secure and compliant. While banks sit at the centre of this, the core architecture is key. It must be open and trusted, innovative and resilient; its reach must be ubiquitous and its operations robust. It must enable smart, embedded, instant payments, 24/7 from every account to every account, everywhere. It must support banks in this journey.


This future is within reach. The elements are already in place, the technology is available, and the SWIFT community is progressing towards it. Key players have the ambition and commitment to realise this goal. A coalition of the willing is forging ahead with change, making the future a...

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