EBA CLEARING, SWIFT and The Clearing House Join Forces to Speed up and Enhance Cross-Border Payments

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Brussels, New York and Paris – With the support of banks from both sides of the Atlantic, EBA CLEARING, SWIFT and The Clearing House (TCH) have joined forces to make cross-border payments as seamless as the fastest domestic payment options.

The three private-sector, member-owned companies have completed a proof of concept as part of a new initiative, Immediate Cross-Border Payments (IXB), that demonstrates the ability to synchronise settlement in one instant payment system with settlement in the other and convert real-time messages between both systems. The concept could be expanded to additional currencies and is also replicable for more liquidity-efficient high-value payments.

The IXB initiative has had 11 banks contribute to the design, with seven banks – Bank of America, BBVA Group, Citi, HSBC, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, J.P. Morgan and PNC Bank – participating in the proof of concept, where the banks successfully exchanged payment and confirmation of receipt messages. The initiative responds to the rising expectations of consumers and businesses who have experienced the benefits of domestic real-time payments and now have similar expectations for cross-border transactions.

The IXB proof of concept shows that existing regional instant payment systems can be leveraged for cross-border payments and could provide financial institution participants of all sizes with access to a solution for cross-border payments without the need to build and connect to a separate network.

By taking advantage of existing infrastructure, technology and standards, IXB can help to satisfy, in the near term, customer expectations across the globe for a simple and more transparent way to send cross-border payments. Further, IXB uses ISO 20022 message standards, which allows for innovation and increased competition and its key features are fully aligned with the focus areas related to speed, access, cost and transparency, outlined by the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and Financial Stability Board (FSB) for enhancing cross-border payments.

The three private-sector companies bring extensive cross-border experience and two real-time payment systems to IXB:

  • EBA CLEARING’s pan-European payment systems connect over 4,800 financial institutions across Europe and include EURO1, a large-value euro payment system, and RT1, a pan-European instant payment system that reaches institutions from 25 different countries and processes 1.5 million transactions per day; and
  • The Clearing House is the operator of the RTP® network, the newest real-time payments network in the United States, and CHIPS, the largest private sector USD clearing system in the world, clearing and settling $2 trillion in domestic and international payments per day; and
  • SWIFT’s messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities institutions, market infrastructures and corporates in more than 200 countries. SWIFT enables innovation across the financial ecosystem through continuous evolution of its platform aligned with its vision for instant, frictionless end-to-end cross-border transaction management.

“By leveraging the RTP network in the United States and RT1 in Europe, along with ISO 200022 message formats, IXB demonstrates that a faster cross-border payments capability is possible and can be delivered using existing technology,” said Russ Waterhouse, Executive Vice President for Product Development and Strategy at The Clearing House. “By utilising existing faster payments systems, financial institutions can leverage existing processes, protocols and technology to make the user experience seamless across payment types, whether domestic or cross border.”

“IXB demonstrates how the current ecosystem of cross-border payments may be enhanced and made suitable for new high-volume 24/7 business,” said Erwin Kulk, Head of Service Development and Management at EBA CLEARING. “In combination with an international request to pay, its potential applications would be limitless.”

“Linking market infrastructures and financial institutions is a fundamental pillar of our strategy to enable instant and frictionless transactions around the world, and one of the key building blocks in the CPMI’s global roadmap on enhancing cross-border payments,” said David Watson, Chief Strategy Officer for SWIFT. “As a neutral party with worldwide reach that works with players from across the financial ecosystem, SWIFT is uniquely placed to support this partnership with EBA CLEARING and TCH and initiatives such as this worldwide.”

“The IXB initiative between EBA CLEARING, SWIFT, and TCH, together with a working group of 11 leading US and European financial institutions, demonstrates that faster cross-border payments between existing real-time systems are possible in one of the world’s largest currency corridors,” said Mark Monaco, Head of Enterprise Payments at Bank of America. “Having faster payments with transparent proof of settlement is a benefit for customers and economies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“BBVA is proud to be part of an initiative that can deliver tangible benefits for the international business of our customers,” said Raouf Soussi Laghmich, Head of Strategy for Enterprise Payments at BBVA. “The ability to synchronise the settlement process in both the USD and EUR domestic instant payment systems will enable cross-border payments to scale, because of the settlement certainty it provides to users.”

“Citi is excited to participate in the execution of the IXB POC across the TCH and EBA CLEARING real-time payments infrastructure in collaboration with SWIFT,” said Melissa Tuozzolo, Payments Financial Market Infrastructures and Industry Head, with Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions. “We believe this will help create a highly efficient and streamlined model for Market Infrastructure interlinkage which has the potential to provide end users with a vastly improved instant, 24/7, real-time cross border payments experience. We view this enhancement to the cross-border model as being key to accelerating economic progress and supporting banks, consumers, corporates and the continuously growing ecommerce flows across these economies.”

“This represents significant progress in the drive towards frictionless cross-border payments for our customers and communities that we serve,” said Thomas Halpin, Managing Director and Global Head of Payments Product Management at HSBC. “We believe that our participation in both TCH’s and EBA CLEARING’s real-time payments systems positions us to deliver services that improve payment velocity, transparency and security. We welcome the continued collaboration between commercial banks, SWIFT, EBA CLEARING and TCH on this initiative.”

“We have been pleased to join the IXB POC as one of the most interesting initiatives in the cross-border payments landscape,” said Stefano Favale, Head of Global Transaction Banking, IMI Corporate & Investment Banking Division, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank. “We see the initiative as the natural evolution from a domestic instant payment instrument to a cross-border instant payment instrument. The role of Intesa Sanpaolo confirms our leadership in instant payments, where we’ve been among the first European banks to join RT1 in November 2017.”

“At J.P. Morgan our focus is helping our clients pay anyone, at any time, from anywhere in the world,” said Cyrus Bhathawalla, Global Head of Real Time Payments at J.P. Morgan. “The opportunity to be part of an initiative that will make immediate cross-border payments a reality was really exciting for us. Our participation on both The Clearing House and EBA CLEARING payments systems means we’re uniquely positioned to ensure a consistent faster payment experience – end-to-end and across regions.”

EBA CLEARING, SWIFT and TCH are planning to engage in next steps towards developing IXB. By providing a model that can be replicated across other currency corridors and payment systems, the IXB initiative is expected to open up even greater opportunities for financial institutions and their customers around the globe.

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