Aussie banks in talks for regional real-time payments

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Aussie banks in talks for regional real-time payments

Four-country cooperation.

Australia’s big four banks have held “exploratory talks” on a service that would allow real-time cross-border payments between institutions in the Asia Pacific.

The talks, led by financial messaging service provider SWIFT, led to the definition of a three-phase approach to the proposal.

“With the widespread adoption of domestic real-time payments systems in the region, a cross-border real-time service is ... a real game-changer for bank customers,” SWIFT Asia Pacific managing director Eddie Haddad said in a statement.

The launch of the National Payments Platform (NPP) in February means that Australian banks are now starting to enable real-time payments on a domestic basis.

SWIFT’s proposal, in the first instance, is essentially to create a “sub-scheme” within its global payments innovation (gpi) service, which already targets cross-border payments between 150 banks worldwide.

The “sub-scheme” would cover “signatory gpi banks” in the region - that is, those that have signed on to the SWIFT service.

Some development work will be required to hook into the various domestic real-time payment systems in use.

Under phase two of its proposal, SWIFT said it would look to “extend ... gpi rails into existing real-time payment systems within each recipient country, thus ensuring that ‘inwards and onwards’ payments can be settled in real-time ... irrespective of whether the final beneficiaries hold accounts at banks that are connected to SWIFT or that are using gpi.”

A further phase of work would involve linking “domestic real-time payment systems via SWIFT gpi to facilitate full cross-border real-time payments between their respective customers”.

“This aims to enable both sending and receiving account holders to benefit from a full real-time payments experience – again independently of whether they hold accounts at banks that are connected to SWIFT or using gpi,” the service provider said.

The scheme would cover Australia, China, Singapore and Thailand. No timelines were publicly revealed for the work.

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