The first meal of the day is typically spent over the morning post in the comfort of one’s home, but for nine dates in nine cities a handful of representative experts from banks and government bodies will be enjoying their breakfast with none other than SWIFT & AC Worldwide at one of the 2019 SWIFT & ACI Worldwide GPI Partnership Roadshows.
At just under two hours, #PaymentsforBreakfast conferences are tailored to quickly lay industry acumen on progress, monetisation of new propositions, and latest projects in domestic and cross-border payment processing through a combination of panel and open discussions. Fintech Finance and 80 attendees joined SWIFT in a private suite at the St Pauls Grange Hotel to assist their London Edition co-hosted with ACI Worldwide, the scheme’s first accredited SWIFT gpi vendor.
The payments processing marketplace
Characterised by deep-rooted relations amongst corporate treasurers, the rarefied quality of the payment processing marketplace has largely protected it from Fintech or other competition. But the pressure for change seen across the financial sector has begun to build there both internally – with the list of services necessary to remain a top and relevant player unremittingly lengthening in time with the hyper-connected world – and externally, due to the prolonged period of low economic growth which has weakened and fragmented global market coverage, heralding the urgent need for a new business model for servicing international trade networks.
Pre-empting this technological squeeze, SWIFT designed and rolled out a new service in early 2017, SWIFT gpi – global payments innovation. SWIFT gpi is the largest change in cross-border payments over the last 30 years and has dramatically improved the customer experience in cross-border payments by increasing their speed, transparency and end-to-end tracking. It offers three key features: a tracker, which allows for transparent, Amazon-like tracking of payments from start to finish; a directory, which provides a complete list of gpi member banks and enables members to apply apt payment routing methods; and an observer, which monitors gpi member’s adherence to new service level agreements to enhance cross-border payments.
In addition to providing transactions solutions worldwide since 1974, ACI Worldwide has been a key partner for SWIFT for the past three decades, delivering the connectivity and processing power required for gpi to evolve from a suite of basic services to the modern ones available today. As of 2019, ACI Worldwide became the first accredited vendor and have launched their own suite of gpi-compatible services: ACI’s up® Real-Time payments solution, which allows for transparent tracking; ACI® Money Transfer system which offers near-instant transfers; and ACI SWIFT gpi Data Service which creates direct access to the SWIFT gpi data tracker central database to pull or push all data related to inbound and outbound gpi transactions, and links all charges and statutes of every message, including confirmation data, payments status, and FX and fee information for an end-to-end view.
What was on the menu?
With Stanley Wachs (Head of Bank Engagement, SWIFT), Craig Ramsey (VP, Head of Real-Time Payments, ACI Worldwide) and Tony Craddock (Director General of Emerging Payments Association) on the panel, the London Breakfast Conference kicked off with a heavy focus on the products’ rapid adoption rate.
Stanley Wachs, Head of Bank Engagement, SWIFT: “More than $40 trillion was sent via SWIFT gpi in 2018, a 270% year-on-year increase. $100 billion are being sent every day now via gpi, and, as we speak, transactions are happening over 1,200 country corridors. We are proud to announce that over 55% of SWIFT’s entire cross-border payments traffic is being sent on gpi, cementing the service as the true new standard for banks sending cross-border payments.
“Speed, certainty and transparency were our greatest ambitions from the beginning, and we’ve succeeded in creating that value for members here – especially with speed. On average, 40% of SWIFT gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within 5 minutes; 50% within 30 minutes, 75% within 6 hours, and almost 100% within 24 hours. “Banks have also seen significant reduction in number of payment enquiries and quicker investigations handling. Overall, the traction gained from members has been promising, and we are now aiming to bring the headiest benefits of gpi – speed, certainty and transparency – to the entire SWIFT community.”
Craig Ramsey, VP, Head of Real-Time Payments at ACI Worldwide, emphasised the improvements made possible through collaboration. “Whether it’s the initiation, the acquisition, the processing of a transaction, including all of the interaction points that the bank might have, or, indeed, the clearing and settlement connectivity to actually make sure the payment reaches the beneficiary, collaboration within the sector is key for success. SWIFT gpi has been gaining terrific traction with financial institutions all around the world, and so our aim is to bring the benefits of gpi to the entire SWIFT community and our own.”
The level of industry progress in terms of transparency and speed has certainly spelled a new era of business for gpi members, but the panel unanimously underlined that areas in serious need of improvement remained. For example, reports show that 60% of the world’s cross-border payments still contain errors. Additionally, the momentum created by the network of 3,500 banks and 460+ banking groups has created pressure for non-gpi adhering corporations to adopt gpi quickly, at the risk of being left behind. But adoption isn’t as easy as signing on the dotting line, explained Craig Ramsey. “Banks have to overcome some hurdles before being able to make a decision, no matter how cost effective or necessary it is. ACI’s suite is structured to enable a bank to bring their existing back-office systems onto gpi painlessly and in less time than it would take for them to rebuild their internal systems – whether they already use an ACI payment engine or not.
“Acceptance will work itself out as corporates move to leverage the infrastructures and mechanisms that are emerging, or already in place, across Europe. We have every faith that the concerned industries will all evolve without fatalities. Our focus is to help them to do it fast,” said Craig Ramsey.
After a volley of questions from attendees, which underlined the problems institutions are facing when it comes to satisfying customer needs, the conference disbanded, clear in their understanding that 2019 is the payment processing sector’s handover period from the twentieth century to the digital twenty-first. Established corporations and banks continue to have the upper hand, but for how much longer will largely depend on their ability to climb aboard.
Upcoming Swift gpi Roadshow Dates:
- New York, April 30
- Sydney, May 7
- Melbourne, May 9
- Panama City, May 21
- San Francisco, May 23
- San Paulo, June 6
- Bogota, June 6
- Mexico City, June 13
- Mumbai, June 21