Swift has rolled out a new stage of its global payments innovation (gpi) initiative, making available a payments tracker that enables users to trace cross-border payments in real time.

The launch comes in response to a common complaint from corporates about the lack of visibility on their payments status.

The tracker is a key innovation of the gpi, Swift’s so-called innovation service, says Wim Raymaekers, Swift’s head of gpi. It gives companies – through their banks – an end-to-end status on their payments as well as a final confirmation when the money is in the account of the beneficiary.

“With the tracker, banks can see where payments are in real time, provide this information to their clients, and avoid a lot of manual investigations. That will save time and cost,” he tells GTR.

The first 12 banks went live with the gpi service in January and have since been testing the tracker. Access to the tracker through APIs (application programming interface) has now been activated, making it compatible with proprietary banking systems worldwide, and the feature will be available to all gpi banks.

By improving transparency and traceability, Swift says the feature enables a more accurate reconciliation of payments and invoices, optimises liquidity with improved cash forecasts and reduces exposure to foreign exchange risks.

Several other transaction banks are currently implementing Swift’s gpi service, with 50 in the implementation pipeline. More than 110 banks have signed up to join the initiative, representing about 75% of all cross-border payments made via Swift.

The service is being rolled out in phases and implemented directly through each bank. According to Swift, hundreds of thousands of payments have already been sent across 85 countries.

The payments tracker is part of the gpi’s first phase, focusing on business-to-business payments to help corporates grow their international business, improve supplier relationships and achieve greater treasury efficiencies. Apart from the tracker, features include a guarantee of payment settlement within a single day.

The second phase will be implemented later this year and next year, and includes digital features to further transform the payments experience, such as a rich payment data service.

As part of the gpi’s third phase, Swift is exploring the potential of using blockchain, distributed ledger and other technologies for real-time nostro account reconciliation. Last month, the company announced the names of the six banks with which it will soon be carrying out a blockchain proof of concept (PoC).