SWIFT Adds First Two Indian Banks to Its Global Payments Innovation Initiative


SWIFT added the first two Indian banks to its global payments innovation initiative this week. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, both headquartered in Mumbai, join some 70 other financial services institutions across the world that are trying to increase the speed, tracking ability, and fee transparency of international transactions.

“We believe that our clients will immensely benefit with same-day credit, increased visibility, and certainty of charges,” said Ajay Gupta, senior general manager at ICICI Bank. “This will enhance the payments product.”

The organization’s innovation initiative was launched last December and is currently in its pilot stage. The primary goal is to ensure same-day transaction processing. In the past, its has often taken days for funds to clear, but the goal is to cut that down to hours. SWIFT also wants to improve the transparency of transfer fees, making the exact figure clearly available before a transaction is made, and allow member institutions to track transactions in real time.

SWIFT plans to reveal the results of its pilot program in September at its annual event in Sibos with an official launch to follow in early 2017. “This initiative is the new standard for any bank with cross-border payments,” said Christian Sarafidis, SWIFT’s chief marketing officer.

When SWIFT announced its global payments innovation initiative, it recognized the need for improvements given the competition and efficiency of today’s fintech disruptors. The collective noted that innovations like real-time tracking and blockchain are pushing the need to advance.

Beatriz Kissler, general manager of the Barcelona-based GDS Cusa, which is a SWIFT member and part of the Spanish CaixaBank Group, highlighted the importance of innovation. “Payments and correspondent banking are undergoing changes at a very fast pace, and we do not want to miss this opportunity to contribute to re-shaping them,” said Kissler.

SWIFT also recently reported ongoing growth in the first quarter of 2016, with 56 new corporate groups joining. This was an 8% increase compared to the same period in 2015, according to the organization. Traffic was also up. SWIFT reported a 22% increase on FIN traffic, 25% increase on FileAct, and 34.5% increase on ISO 20022 formatted messages.

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