SWIFT reacts: fintech endorsement proves value of gpi

As Ebury becomes first fintech to go live on gpi, Vikesh Patel, head of SWIFT UK, Ireland and Nordics, has his say

SWIFT has been the partner of choice for the world’s largest banks, it has received criticism in recent years for lack of innovation. But Ebury – the established cross-border fintech solutions provider – endorsed the firm by becoming the first fintech to go live with SWIFT’s global payments innovation (gpi) product.

Vikesh Patel, SWIFT’s head of UK, Ireland and Nordics spoke with PaymentEye on what the announcement means for competition and crucially, what it means for the firm’s innovation strategy.

Ebury isn’t your usual customer. How does this change things?

Naturally SWIFT has a biased view, we’re excited by every new SWIFT community member that goes live with gpi.

Where does it put us? Our banking community saw a need for track and trace in the payments space to allow for improved STPs in the payments chain and cross border. That remains very central to our gpi story.

We’ve seen a global effect as a range of banks are willing to speak publicly about gpi.

But Ebury is really exciting as they see the value of gpi’s track, trace and transparency and want to go early with us on that journey.

It puts us in a pretty good place for collaborative innovation with the SWIFT community and for the good of the payments process as well as the consumer experience.

The cross-border payments space is particularly saturated with innovative companies. How does SWIFT intend on keeping up with that innovation?

I’d start with the value proposition of SWIFT in a saturated and competitive market. SWIFT has decades of experience in providing secure and trusted network provisions in the payments space and a strong user led governance process.

Underneath all of that is our control mindset. We work with all of those three angles and what we’re seeing with gpi, from the onset it was a very speedy implementation 18 months we were live, and we’ve continued to evolve the product.

Our strategy is threefold with gpi. We work with the community on future development/roadmap, which may well take the benefits of gpi into different payment types or business classes.

We continue to think about the benefit of scale and reach and how we can generate a capillary effect for gpi, and we’re pleased with the progress we have. Progress summed up in statistics like 30% of traffic is gpi enabled; 70m+ payments on gpi since go live and; 600+ corridors that are active and also extending the reach.

We’ve talked about fintechs but we’ve recently launched our corporate pilot which looks at how the corporate community can collaborate with SWIFT and their banks to continue to bring the benefits of track and trace to their business models and liquidity management.

We want to make gpi the new norm by 2020. One element will be the unique tracker put on each payment, end-to-end reference UETR. The second element will be everyone confirming transfer of funds. So, track comes first followed by trace.

Combined this will increase the capillary effect and adoption.

In terms of innovation, there are many cross-border startups using newer, more agile and better technology. What are the benefits of using SWIFT?

I contend that the technology is ‘better’. SWIFT has benefited from decades of collaboration with our partners and community members and intimately understands the requirements of operating in a highly regulated environment.

Reliability and trust is also fundamentally important. SWIFT has a DNA that is built around control and more recently we’ve launched a customer security programme, unique in its ability to secure the end points of the ecosystem, so that there’s a baseline of security when transacting payments across borders with multiple intermediaries; you have the comfort that everyone is operating on that baseline.

Where I’d contend the innovation point would be on the scale point. Gpi data today can be consumed through APIs, that in itself is innovative. You can absolutely get a real-time view through cutting edge technology into your own internal payments application and you can use the tracker too.

What would that innovation look like specifically?

The continual evolution of SWIFT gpi, the corporate pilot. There’s work around APIs which will continue to be part of the service. As we continue to expand we’re focused on take up and working with our community to make it the new norm and make the process adopted across as many corridors as possible.

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