SWIFT Tests CBDC Interoperability To Enable Cross-border Payments


The well-known global financial messaging service, SWIFT, is set to test the Central Bank of Digital Currency (CBDC) by interlinking several CBDC networks in order to execute cross-border payments. Besides currently linking financial institutions worldwide to communicate and execute financial payments, the Belgium-based network has approached consulting firm Capgemini and French information technology services to propel the project.

An official blog post published on May 19 suggests that using CBDCs for cross-border payment solutions may have been a blind spot for this type of digital currency since its development had the primary focus on resolving issues in line with domestic policies. However, Thomas Zschach, Chief Innovation Officer at SWIFT, expressed that new different CBDC networks must work together to enable “frictionless” transfers across the borders, and SWIFT will play a critical role.

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He said;

Facilitating interoperability and interlinking between different CBDCs being developed around the world will be critical if we are to fully realise their potential. Today, the global CBDC ecosystem risks becoming fragmented with numerous central banks developing their own digital currencies based on different technologies, standards and protocols.

Similarly, Nick Kerigan, Head of Innovations at SWIFT, pointed out that when the CBDCs will be increasingly perceived as “a new form of fiat currencies,” too many such projects will come into the development linking the traditional financial infrastructure.

SWIFT,  currently being accessed by over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries, will pave the way for CBDCs’ implementation to enable “a highly scalable and easily integrated solution” for cross-border payment transfers.

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SWIFT Finding Solutions With CBDCs’ Collaboration

In addition, the experiments at its core feature include deploying a gateway on the central bank of the digital currency network, as highlighted in the official blog post.

The gateway will intercept cross-border transactions on the network, translate them, and send them to the SWIFT platform for onward transmission to another CBDC network or established payment system.

Citing the collaboration with Capgemini, the post revealed that the giant firm would focus on deploying three use cases, including fiat to CBDC, CBDC to CBDC, and CBDC to fiat. Not only that, but SWIFT also has plans beyond CBDC and attempts to bring interoperability between virtual assets and other currencies.

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SWIFT, also known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has been the most prominent financial messaging system globally. But, it’s under the spotlight since the West decided to exclude Russia from it over the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As it should be, financial institutions have been facing troubles in the region and lost stability.

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The West took this decision to cut the financial sources of Russia to make the state unable to liquidate assets and prevent it from transferring funds to the institutions that are part of the system. Although this move was intended to punish and isolate the nation, it contrarily drew criticism mainly from China and Russia. As a result, they planned to shift to their own messaging system to combat the U.S. sanctions.

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