Banking News

SWIFT announces R3 enterprise blockchain payments trial

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Today at the Paris Fintech Forum, SWIFT announced that it has launched a Proof of Concept (PoC) of “gpi Link” which involves trialing a gateway to enable trade platforms to execute SWIFT gpi payments. Initially, gpi Link will be integrated with R3’s enterprise blockchain, Corda. GPI is SWIFT’s upgraded technology that provides greater transparency through the ability to track payments.

gpi Link is a departure for SWIFT where, in the past, the APIs have been available to member banks. Going forward gpi Link enables technology platforms, corporates and markets to initiate, track and confirm payments themselves via a special SWIFT gateway.

“With the gpi Link, banks will be able to provide rapid, transparent settlement services to e-commerce and trading platforms, opening up whole new ecosystems to the speed, security, ubiquity and transparency of gpi and enabling them to grow and prosper in the new digital economy,” said Luc Meurant, SWIFT’s CMO.

“Given the adoption of the Corda platform by trade ecosystems, it was a natural choice to run this proof of concept with R3.”

In early December, R3 announced a new Corda payments app called “Corda Settler dApp” which initially integrated with the XRP cryptocurrency. However, it’s technically easier to execute a payment with a cryptocurrency compared to a traditional payment rail such as SWIFT, because in the case of SWIFT, feedback is needed that the payment has arrived.

SWIFT’s blockchain history

This is not SWIFT’s first experiment with blockchain. However, the previous experiment involved using blockchain for core SWIFT activities such as payment messaging. By comparision, the gpi Link is just a new way to access SWIFT. It doesn’t touch the core. Gpi Link will enable integration with SWIFT using APIs, and messaging standards such as SWIFT’s and ISO’s.

SWIFT’s previous blockchain tests used Hyperledger Fabric for core messaging. At the time, almost a year ago, SWIFT commented that Hyperledger Fabric was not scalable. However, Ledger Insights heard there were other challenges unrelated to technology.

One of the main benefits of adopting blockchain for payments is there is no need for reconciliations. However, in the SWIFT Hyperledger test, banks mixed blockchain and non-blockchain payments in the same accounts. This mixing of funds meant that not only were reconciliations still required, but they were more work than without blockchain.


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