After a series of trials around the world, payments network Swift has launched a new service which integrates its global payments innovation (gpi) into domestic instant payments systems around the world.

Launched in 2017, Swift’s gpi has increased the speed, transparency and tracking of cross-border payments through the Swift network. On average, 40% of gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within five minutes. However, delays come about when the final leg of the transaction needs to be cleared within the recipient country, due in part to local clearing systems’ limited operating hours.

Connecting gpi to regional and domestic instant settlement systems is Swift’s way of getting around this issue. After testing the idea in Singapore, Australia and Europe, Swift has now made the service available to all types of banks’ end customers, from large multinationals to SMEs, and from retail to e-commerce platforms.

“At Swift, we are creating a future in which cross-border payments will be as convenient as domestic ones. It is time for the whole community to come together to seize this opportunity and establish a global real-time payments service,” says Harry Newman, head of banking at Swift. “We will be discussing with the institutions involved in the trials how to progress to live operation and invite all domestic real time payment systems to come and join in this exciting venture. The technology is in place, it is proven and it is now a reality that cross-border payments can be as fast as domestic payments.”

Not everyone is convinced by Swift’s latest innovation, however. At the recent Sibos event in London, several attendees spoke of their concerns. Navin Gupta, managing director for Southeast Asia and Mena at Ripple, highlighted that such improvements in speed don’t change the fundamentals of the correspondent banking system, which is that banks need to hold trillions of dollars in pre-paid nostro accounts around the world. He referred to this as the “liquidity problem”, adding that it is a “misconception” that this will be addressed simply because current initiatives are making payments instant.