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Closing the case on payment investigations

Closing the case on payment investigations

26 September 2018

Even the best detectives need help to close a case: Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Watson, and Hercule Poirot had Mr. Hastings. But who, or what, can banks’ international payment investigation teams turn to when they need a hand?

SWIFT gpi is empowering banking operations teams to solve cross-border payment enquiries and investigations faster and easier than ever before.

Cross-border payments are subject to manual intervention for a variety of reasons: the sender requests a modification or cancellation; incorrect information prevents the payment from being processed; the beneficiary requests a status update; just to name a few.

But while the overall number of international payments that are subject to an investigation is very low, the time and effort it takes to investigate and resolve them is not. 

Delays, frustrations and costs arise due to a lack of end-to-end transparency in the cross-border payments processing chain. When a customer or an intermediary bank has a question about the status of a payment, operations teams need to investigate by tracking down the funds and contacting the right bank to find the answer. This process is time consuming and labour intensive, often involving multiple back-and-forth emails and phone calls before the issue is resolved.

Inefficiencies in this process bring additional costs for banks and their customers and can significantly increase the time it takes for the payment to be delivered. For banks, explaining such delays to their end customers can also put a strain on relationships, especially when information is lacking about where the payment is and when the client can expect to receive it.


Empowering operational efficiency 

Better tools and processes speed up the time it takes to solve enquiries and investigations and, in many instances, eliminate the case altogether. 

Cases when the beneficiary has not received the funds, for example, make up a large portion of investigations and have traditionally been incredibly time-consuming to resolve. Without a centralised tracking tool to locate payments and confirm statuses, beneficiary banks are left to investigate payments directly with each counterparty. 

Investigating these queries can take days or even weeks. The beneficiary bank must first contact its counterparty to know whether the payment has been initiated. If it has, the initiating bank must then send an enquiry up the chain of correspondent banks to locate the payment and find out why it has not been sent to the beneficiary. The information then comes back down the chain to the initiating bank who communicates it to the beneficiary bank so they can provide an answer back to the end customer.

Closing the case quicker

SWIFT gpi enables banks to access the information they need autonomously and without depending on counterparties. When a payment operations team receives an enquiry, they can look directly in the gpi Tracker to find the payment location and status in real time. They can then go straight back to their customer and close the case. There is no need to contact the other banks in the payment chain. 

The gpi Tracker makes handling investigations quicker for the initiating bank, and reduces the number of enquires the beneficiary bank receives. This reduces costs and improves customer service.

The gpi Tracker helps operations teams quickly answer other types of questions as well. Requests for information related to payment statuses; bank fees; payment instruction information; correspondent details; and proof of payment can all be answered immediately by checking the Tracker.


A better way of working

Increasing operational efficiency enables banks to re-focus resources on more difficult cases and reduce costs. 

It also improves counterparty relationships, customer experiences and job satisfaction – a result of replacing processes that are slow, opaque and unpredictable with ones that are fast, transparent and instil confidence that the payment will proceed smoothly and securely.

To improve cross-border payment efficiency further, later this year we will start piloting a new service enabling banks to pre-validate key payment instruction details. This will help ensure the payment is error-free and can be processed STP.


More information

To find out more about the benefits of SWIFT gpi for your operations, register for one of our upcoming webinars:

  • Thursday, 4 October 10:00 – 11.00 CET – Register now 
  • Thursday, 4 October 16:00 – 17:00 CET –  Register now 

Did you know?

As of November 2018, all payments on the SWIFT network will include the unique end-to-end transaction reference (UETR). For banks using the gpi Tracker, this means you can see the status of all payments no matter where it is in the chain and irrespective of whether the bank sending the instruction is already a gpi member or not. If you have not yet adopted gpi, we strongly encourage you to do so at the same time as making the SR2018 upgrades. This way you can maximise your return on your investment and pass on the value of gpi to your customers.