swift payments

SWIFT has published an interim report on the proof of concept (PoC) for real-time Nostro reconciliation – using its distributed ledger technology (DLT) sandbox with 33 global transaction banks – as part of its SWIFT gpi service.

The PoC is testing whether DLT can help banks reconcile Nostro accounts more efficiently and in real-time, while lowering costs and operational risk. The report provides an overview of the PoC to date, including technical objectives, early findings on the potential business benefits and key challenges that still need to be addressed to achieve industry-wide adoption.

Under the current correspondent banking model, banks need to monitor the funds in their overseas accounts via debit and credit updates and end-of-day statements. The maintenance and operational work involved represents a significant portion of the cost of making cross-border payments, according to a statement.

Preliminary results of the PoC show that the SWIFT-developed DLT application can deliver the business functionalities and data richness required to support real-time liquidity monitoring and reconciliation. DLT provides real-time visibility to both the account owner and its servicer on the available and forecasted liquidity on the Nostro account and supports payment reconciliation and investigations by providing an enriched data model based on ISO 20022.

Wim Raymaekers, Head of Banking Market and SWIFT gpi at SWIFT, said: "The DLT PoC supports SWIFT's goal of making cross-border payments more efficient – a mission we have championed through SWIFT gpi, which offers customers fast, transparent and traceable cross-border payments."

SWIFT's DLT sandbox also demonstrated progress in DLT technology and helped identify issues that still need to be addressed to achieve industry-wide adoption. Specific challenges include the need to develop unique value propositions in response to the different levels of sophistication, automation and past investments of banks. In addition, it is crucial that integration with legacy back office applications and co-existence with existing processes are taken into account.

Damien Vanderveken Head of Research and Development, SWIFTLab and User Experience at SWIFT, said: "Preliminary results from the DLT PoC are positive for this use case. Significant progress has been made, but it is still early days for the latest generation of Blockchain technology, and it will take time before it is mature and scalable enough for mission critical applications."

SWIFT's DLT PoC started in April 2017 and will conclude in November 2017, with the final results available in December.