Swift has launched a pilot of an investigation and resolution service to speed up the handling of operational, compliance and regulatory issues that can arise along the payments chain.

The new capability allows for what Swift is calling “in-flight” query handling between banks on its network, enabling them to quickly resolve instances of missing or incorrect operational, regulatory or compliance information – such as the reason for payment or settlement date, or differences in regulatory controls and requirements across jurisdictions.

“In our drive towards frictionless payments, we are working together with banks and software providers to bring in a fully integrated, network-wide service to ensure a smooth payments process. It has been a consistent bug-bear of many banks that, whilst only a minority of payments are held up by errors and missing information, they are frustrating, time-consuming and costly,” says Harry Newman, head of banking at Swift.

In the past, interbank efforts to resolve these blockages have usually been carried out via unstructured, unstandardised messages, which are both time-consuming and costly.

The new service complements Swift’s gpi pre-validation service, which identifies errors and omissions in payment messages prior to initiation. It will reduce the need for manual interventions by enabling users to locate hold-ups via Swift’s gpi tracker, as well as identify the banks that may be causing them. Using a standardised ISO 20022 format, the banks will be able to exchange requests and responses in a structured manner.

Speaking about the launch of the pilot, Mark McNulty, global head of clearing and FI payments at Citi, says: “In addition to our goal of providing real-time ubiquitous cross-border payments, our ambition is to ensure that any associated customer enquiries are transacted real-time. gpi case resolution is a very important step forward as it provides the platform for banks, across the payment chain, to interact in a far more dynamic, efficient and transparent manner than today and thus ultimately better serve our clients. Case resolution is well placed to build on the scale and reach of gpi to transform how enquiries associated with cross-border payments are resolved.”

In the first stage of its launch, the service will be piloted by Bank of China, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Emirates NBD, Gazprombank, HSBC, ICBC, SMBC, Société Générale and Standard Chartered. The service is scheduled to go live to all 10,000 banks on the Swift network in November 2019.