An additional 11 Chinese commercial banks have joined a global payments innovation (gpi) initiative to offer faster, more transparent and traceable cross-border payments for Chinese companies, a news conference announced on May 24.
The initiative was launched in December 2015 by SWIFT, a global member-owned cooperative that provides financial messaging services. Since then, nearly 110 banks operating across more than 200 countries and regions, including almost all Belt and Road countries, have joined the initiative.
This announcement brings the number on Chinese banks taking part to 13, which together represent an estimated 80 percent of Chinese cross-border payments. The Bank of China (BOC) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) had already joined the initiative.
“China Railway Engineering Corporation has many overseas projects under construction, especially in Belt and Road countries. Cross-border payments are made almost daily. But slow processing time and the lack of visibility of the payment status have always been a problem,” said Li Guang, an accountant from China Railway Finance Company.
Alain Raes, CEO for APAC and EMEA at SWIFT, said at the news conference, that fast, transparent and traceable payment services will better support the trade and supply chains under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The new payment services will revolutionize the industry by combining real-time payment tracking with the speed and certainty of same-day settlement for international payments, he said.
More than 20 global transaction banks have begun using or implementing the SWIFT gpi service, with another 50 in the pipeline. Hundreds of thousands of payments have already been sent across more than 85 country corridors, according to Raes.
SWIFT gpi will also allow over 400 Chinese institutions to carry out safe and reliable transactions with over 11,000 institutions that are using the SWIFT network globally.
Improved connectivity and more products and services denominated by the Chinese yuan will help China with its RMB internationalization agenda, the chief executive said.
“As one of the earliest banks to participate, BOC has played an important role in rule setting, pilot testing and long-term planning. In January, BOC became one of the banks worldwide to go live. Currently, gpi business has been undertaken in 66 domestic and overseas BOC branches and 11 major currencies, with rapid growth of channels and customer coverage,” said Wu Jianguang from BOC.
SWIFT gpi allows commercial banks to improve the quality and efficiency of cross-border payments, enrich and optimize the global clearing network, and improve customer service for international payments, said Peng Hua from ICBC.
Strengthening financial connectivity between countries is an important key to the Belt and Road development.
At the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held on May 14 to 15, a joint communique was issued vowing to jointly work on a long-term, stable and sustainable financing system; enhance financial infrastructure connectivity, by exploring new models and platforms of investment and financing and improving financial services.