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African banks to become more competitive with SWIFT gpi

African banks to become more competitive with SWIFT gpi

17 May 2018

The new standard for cross-border payments dramatically improves the customer experience in cross-border payments by increasing their speed, transparency and end-to-end tracking.

Johannesburg, 17 May 2018 – 15 African banks have signed up to SWIFT’s global payments innovation (gpi) service, the new standard for cross-border payments. Of these, four are already live – Standard Bank of South Africa, FirstRand Bank, ABSA Bank and Nedbank - and many others are preparing to go live on the service in 2018. 

SWIFT gpi is the largest change in cross-border payments over the last 30 years. More than 100 billion USD in SWIFT gpi messages are being sent every day, enabling payments to be credited to end beneficiaries within minutes - many within seconds. The service has already been adopted by more than 160 financial institutions around the world, with 55 banks already live on the service sending hundreds of thousands of payments daily across 350 international payment corridors. 

Overall, nearly 50% of SWIFT gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within 30 minutes, and almost 100% of payments within 24 hours. Those that take longer typically involve more complex foreign exchange conversions, compliance checks or regulatory authorisations. For Africa, these numbers are even better. 70% of gpi payments leaving Africa are credited to the end beneficiary within 30 minutes. 

SWIFT gpi also enables the banks to leverage new technologies such as API. African banks are embracing these opportunities and have implemented this new technology to better serve their customers. The SWIFT gpi API solution allows them to easily integrate the gpi tracker in their internet banking channels and provide better services to their customers. 

Denis Kruger, head of Sub-Sahara Africa, SWIFT, said: “We are delighted that Africa’s leading banks are committed to SWIFT gpi – the new standard for cross-border payments. The performance of African banks on gpi to date clearly demonstrates the competitiveness of the African banking sector as it continues to evolve its customer offering and support African economic development.”

In addition to the 160 financial institutions that have adopted gpi, more than 50 payment market infrastructures are already exchanging gpi payments, enabling domestic exchange and tracking. Payment market infrastructures have a critical role to play in facilitating the end-to-end tracking of cross-border payments because as soon as international payments hit the destination country, they are typically cleared through local payment infrastructures. By being able to continue to track the payments in real-time, banks and their corporate clients can optimise their funds. 

“Thanks to SWIFT gpi, banks are able to credit payments within minutes and even seconds, while their customers are facing shorter supply cycles and able to ship goods faster. This is a very significant step forward for banks and for their customers” says Harry Newman, Head of Banking, SWIFT. “In addition, banks receive fewer queries and have told us their enquiry-related costs are reduced by as much as 50% when they use SWIFT gpi. This is a major service improvement to end-users and a considerable cost saving for the industry.” 

We have seen a surge in both gpi adoption rates and number of transactions, and we expect adoption of SWIFT gpi to now grow very significantly. Instead of focussing on a limited number of bilateral routes which has limited value both for banks and their customers, gpi already offers very extensive coverage across banks, markets and geographies. By adding new banks and corridors every day, SWIFT gpi ensures banks and their customers get a truly global, fast, secure, and transparent cross-border payments service.

Larize Nel, Payments Portfolio Manager, ABSA Bank, said: “By using SWIFT gpi, we are able to increase our competitiveness in the cross-border payments space and deliver on our customers’ requirements for faster, more transparent and traceable payments.” 

Indrees Kolabhai, Head of Cash Management Standard Bank South Africa, said: “As a SWIFT gpi bank we are able to offer our clients a cross-border payments service that is second to none. Some of our gpi payments have been finalised in as little as 10 seconds. As SWIFT gpi continues to establish itself as the new standard for cross-border payments, we anticipate that corporate customers will choose to have cross-border payments processed only by gpi banks.” 

Dewald Smit, Corporate Shared Services GM of Nedbank CIB, said: “We are proud to be one of the first African banks live on SWIFT gpi. The service gives us the opportunity to significantly increase the quality of our cross-border payments offering and be a part of the future of correspondent banking.”

Anthony Grant, CEO Foreign Exchange, FirstRand Bank, said: “Having gone live on SWIFTgpi in March 2018, we are impressed at the efficiency of the service and the transparency that gpi payments have produced. We look forward to passing the benefits of gpi on to our customers.” 

Press Contacts:
Eva Khosa
Atmosphere Communications
+27 (0) 11 215 0058 

Notes to editors:

Market context
The payments landscape is transforming at a rapid pace and the payments industry faces growing challenges and impacts. Changes in consumer behaviours, regulators pushing towards open banking models, compliance pressure and technology disruptions are shaking up the retail, corporate and correspondent banking businesses. The banking community is putting considerable effort into improving the customer experience for cross-border payments. In addition, cybersecurity and financial crime compliance remain high on everyone’s agenda, adding a layer of complexity. 

The global shift towards real time payments is driving increased expectations and demands for cross-border payments. Customers want it all – real-time, straight –through and transparency and traceability every step of the way.

In such a quickly evolving landscape and with a clear set of requirements set out for a much improved cross-border payments experience, the banking industry is committed to delivering on the demands of its corporate customers. 

About SWIFT gpi
To build the scope for SWIFT gpi, SWIFT interviewed corporate treasurers from around the world, to ask what their main challenges were when making and receiving cross-border payments. The four main needs that they identified were speed, transparency, tracking and richer remittance information. 

SWIFT gpi dramatically improves the customer experience in cross-border payments by increasing their speed, transparency and end-to-end tracking. Hundreds of thousands of cross-border payments are today being sent using the new gpi standard, and payments are made quickly, typically within minutes, even seconds. 

SWIFT gpi allows corporates to receive an enhanced payments service from their banks, with the following key features: 
•    Faster, same day use of funds within the time zone of the receiving gpi member
•    Transparency of fees
•    End-to-end payments tracking
•    Remittance information transferred unaltered

As an initiative, SWIFT gpi engages the global banking industry and fintech communities to innovate in the area of cross-border payments while reducing their back-office costs. Since its launch in January 2017, gpi has dramatically improved the cross-border payments experience for corporates across more than 350 country corridors. Key features of the gpi service include enhanced business rules and a secure tracking database in the cloud accessible via APIs. Thanks to SWIFT gpi, corporates can grow their international business, improve supplier relationships, and achieve greater treasury efficiencies. 

SWIFT is a global member owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. We provide our community with a platform for messaging and standards for communicating, and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration, identification, analysis and regulatory compliance. 

Our messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories. While SWIFT does not hold funds or manage accounts on behalf of customers, we enable our global community of users to communicate securely, exchanging standardised financial messages in a reliable way, thereby supporting global and local financial flows, as well as trade and commerce all around the world. 

As their trusted provider, we relentlessly pursue operational excellence; we support our community in addressing cyber threats; and we continually seek ways to lower costs, reduce risks and eliminate operational inefficiencies. Our products and services support our community’s access and integration, business intelligence, reference data and financial crime compliance needs. SWIFT also brings the financial community together – at global, regional and local levels – to shape market practice, define standards and debate issues of mutual interest or concern. 

Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT’s international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure. SWIFT’s global office network ensures an active presence in all the major financial centres.

SWIFT’s strategic five year plan, SWIFT2020, challenges SWIFT to continue investing in the security, reliability and growth of its core messaging platform, while making additional investments in existing services and delivering new and innovative solutions. 

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter: @swiftcommunity and LinkedIn: SWIFT.