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Real-time revelations from SWIFT and BankservAfrica

By: Independent financial services and innovation journalist Katya Stead
SWIFT’s mammoth annual conference, SIBOS, is easily one of the premier events for financial services globally. Each year, more than 8,000 of the world’s best and brightest stars in insurance, banking and FinTech descend upon the city chosen to host Sibos that year and learn of cutting-edge innovations and thought leadership happening all around the world.
This year the conference was held in Sydney, and SWIFT and BankservAfrica brought these pearls of wisdom to SA shores this week with their SIBOS and payments insight event in Sandton.
With the theme of the 2018 SIBOS conference being ‘Enabling the Digital Economy’, the Bankserv’s theme was appropriately ‘Enabling the Digital Economy – What does this mean for Africa?’
One of the most exciting concepts put forward for the day was SWIFT’s announcement at SIBOS that real-time payments have all but become reality, with cross-border payments taking just 18 seconds now possible, according SWIFT chief executive EMEA and Asia Pacific, Alain Raes:
“At Sibos, SWIFT announced the successful test results of its new instant cross-border payments proof of concept, involving 12 banks across three country corridors – China, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. The trial confirmed that the SWIFT gpi “payments in seconds” experience can indeed be extended seamlessly via domestic real-time payment systems. The fastest SWIFT gpi payment in the trial was sent from China, reaching the end beneficiary account in Australia via the New Payments Platform, Australia’s domestic real-time payment system, in 18 seconds. All the payments sent during the trial were processed end-to-end within 60 seconds.”
The implications for this are massive, for both insurance and banking and, best of all, it could be all over South Africa soon.
SWIFT is in discussions, together with banks, with multiple domestic real-time payment operators and regulators to see how those payment corridors could also be enabled with gpi. A big priority in 2019 is to continue the roll out of SWIFT’s global payments innovation (gpi) service across Africa and support African banks in becoming more competitive by offering corporates fast, transparent and traceable cross border payments. Our goal is  to make SWIFT gpi the new normal for cross-border payments globally by 2020. Four banks are already live in South Africa, with more than 30 across the continent looking to go live in the coming months,” answered Raes, when asked by us if this was coming to South Africa.
Other highlights for the day included BankservAfrica CEO Chris Hamilton speaking on SIBOS’ Innotribe revelations, Nedbank on open banking, Standard Bank’s Vinod Madhavan on the future of trade in Africa and various BankservAfrica experts on pertinent topics like AI in financial services, cybercrime and a panel on potential payment market infrastructures in the future.

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