The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced its decision to launch a pilot Global Payment Initiative (GPI) service which aims to compete with the growing threat of competing blockchain and fintech solutions provided by institutions like Ripple, JP Morgan and Transferwise.

Still in its initial stages, the ambitious pilot aims to “build the foundation of a new integrated and interactive service that will significantly improve efficiencies in the payments process and which will ultimately be made available to all 10,000 banks across the SWIFT network.”

A recent GPI test, was successfully conducted  in October, carrying out instant cross-border payments with banks in China, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. Equipped to enable speedy identification and elimination of errors and omissions in payment data such as missing or incorrect beneficiary information or incomplete regulatory information, SWIFT hopes the GPI payments service will enable speedy and seamless transactions, thereby reducing delays and costs, as well as improving customer experience.

Taking on Blockchain’s Threat

With the move, SWIFT has turned its attention to containing the threat of blockchain-based fintech startups offering the same services at a cheaper price. One such blockchain project is J.P.Morgan’s Interbank Information Network (IIN). Launched in September, it now boasts a membership count of more than 130 banks, including Satander and Societe Generale.

IIN, claims to minimizes friction in the global payments process, enabling payments to reach beneficiaries faster and with fewer steps. With its membership still growing, IIN promises banks the ability to resolve errors and compliance issues speedily by sharing information on a mutual distributed ledger.

SWIFT’s GPI, on the other hand, uses an Application Programming Interface (API) which enables banks to access each other’s data to validate recipient account information before payment is processed, thereby avoiding errors and delays.

An excerpt from the statement released by SWIFT reads:

“Fully integrated with GPI payments, the service will facilitate real time dynamic bank-to-bank interaction using APIs to improve the predictability and efficiency of international payments, and look at using predictive analytics. It will later be complemented with a post-payment investigation and reconciliation service that will allow for fast resolution of the remaining factors, typically arising from compliance or regulatory requirements, which can slow down the payments process.”

The pilot GPI pre-validation service is set to kick off at the beginning of 2019 with 15 selected banks including J.P. Morgan, Barclays, Bank of China and CitiGroup, among others. According to SWIFT, the service is expected to provide total transparency to payment beneficiaries and originators, making the cost, routes and delivery of their funds highly predictable.


Mastercard and Microsoft are joining forces to tackle the messy business of digital identity verification, vowing to kill off passwords and give people a secure, instant way to verify themselves online with whomever they want, whenever they want.

To verify their identity online, people are still usually dependent on physical or digital proof managed by a central party, whether it’s a passport number, proof of address, driver’s license, user credentials or other means. 

Mastercard says that this dependence places a huge burden on individuals, who have to successfully remember hundreds of passwords for various identities and are increasingly being subjected to more complexity in proving their identity and managing their data.

The payments giant is working with Microsoft to upend this, vowing to create a service that allows individuals to enter, control and share their identity data their way-on the devices they use every day.

The partners have so far offered little detail on their plans, simply saying that Mastercard will create services powered by Microsoft Azure and built in collaboration with leaders in the banking, mobile network operator and government communities.

When it comes to financial services, the firms say that access to a universally-recognised digital identity could improve and speed up the applicant identification process for establishing a new bank account, loan or payment service account. 

Ajay Bhalla, president, cyber and intelligence solutions, Mastercard, says: “Today’s digital identity landscape is patchy, inconsistent and what works in one country often won’t work in another. We have an opportunity to establish a system that puts people first, giving them control of their identity data and where it is used. 

“Working with Microsoft brings us one step closer to making a globally interoperable digital identity service a reality, and we look forward to sharing more very soon.”


Ingenico Group, the global leader in seamless payment, today announced a strategic partnership with Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, to enable international online merchants to accept the national MIR Card Payment System. 

Since the introduction of the domestic card scheme in 2015, some 45 million MIR cards have already been issued, with more than half issued by Sberbank – the main credit institution in Russia and the CIS, and the largest acquirer in Europe.

Extending its network of global acquiring banks with Sberbank as a local partner in Russia is key to Ingenico’s merchant-focused international growth strategy. As Sberbank is the main issuer of MIR cards, millions of MIR cardholders will now be able to use their cards to shop with the well-known international brands that use Ingenico to process their payments.

Svetlana Kirsanova, Director of Sberbank’s Acquiring and Bank Card Division, commented: “Russian consumers love buying from international brands and want to use their MIR cards to do so. With Ingenico, we can now offer this opportunity to our customer cardholders from Russia’s national payment system.”

From January to August 2018, upwards of 58 million online transactions were performed using national cards,” added Vladimir Komlev, CEO of MIR Card Payment System operator, NSPK. “We are glad that, thanks to the joint project between Sberbank and Ingenico, foreign web stores will accept MIR Cards. It will significantly expand the geography of online purchases for cardholders.

International online merchants can now accept MIR card payments for the first time, providing them with access to a rapidly growing market. By using a local acquirer, merchants will be able to offer a higher level customer experience, with increased authorisation rates and fewer disputes – and since Sberbank uses data centres in Moscow and Kazan, Ingenico’s merchants are automatically compliant with Russia’s data storage regulations.

We are proud to cooperate with the largest acquiring bank in Europe, which will ensure the acceptance of MIR cards on international websites,” added Gabriel de Montessus, SVP Global Online (Retail BU) for Ingenico Group. “The partnership with Sberbank will allow us to offer a truly unique solution to merchants who seek to exploit the potential of the Russian market. Already, we are working to further expand our cooperation through additional features and products.”

Looking ahead, Ingenico and Sberbank are aiming to expand the partnership to include additional features such as support for Sberbank Online, its real-time banking solution, and an opportunity for international merchants to participate in the loyalty program Spasibo to establish and nurture strong connections with Russian consumers.


The European Central Bank has unveiled its response to the rise of digital wallets with the launch of Target Instant Payments Settlement (TIPS), a pan-eurozone instant payments system.

The new service will be available to both consumers and businesses across the 19 states in the eurozone and will offer near real-time payments via smartphones, PCs and in-store payment points.

The initative has been sparked by the growing popularity of digital, contactless payment services offered by big tech firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Alibaba in China.

"Banks in the eurozone are under pressure" from tech rivals, said Marc Bayle de Jesse, head of market infrastructure and payments at the ECB."TIPS is a way for them to not give up the game to these digital players."

While instant payment services for domestic use have been launched by banks, there are currently no such services for cross-border transactions. 

The ECB is therefore looking to fill this void with the TIPS system which is directly connected to central bank funds therefore avoiding some of the settlement processes that can inhibit instant payments.

Eight participating banks were revealed at the launch in Rome including a number of Spanish lenders and the second largest banking group in France, BPCE. 

While the service will initally be limited to the eurozone, the central bank has not ruled out extending it to other countries and currencies. 


The Bank of England in conjunction with Pay.UK, has issued an open call for interest for members of the payments industry wishing to join a newly created Standards Advisory Panel ahead of the introduction of ISO20022 message standards.

The eleven member panel, drawn from a wide pool of banks, vendors and users, will advise on the adoption of new payments standards in the UK, including ISO20022 and financial APIs. 

The formation of the Panel follows a proposal in June for the UK to introduce an ISO 20022 based ‘Common UK Credit Message’ (CCM), to be to be implemented across both the high value Chaps plumbing and the New Payments Architecture that will replace Bacs and Faster Payments. 

The Standards Advisory Panel was proposed with the role to support the Bank and Pay.UK by providing expertise on industry preferences and implications. 

"It is not a technical group, its consideration of the detailed design choices would be from a strategic perspective," states the Bank. "Members of the Panel will have an opportunity to influence changes across wholesale and retail payments, shaping how benefits for the UK are maximised while ensuring changes are proportionate. 

Those interested in becoming a member of the Panel should submit an application by Monday 10 December 2018.