SWIFT and Accenture publish joint paper on central bank digital currencies in cross-border payments

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  • New report discusses opportunities and challenges of CBDCs for international payments
  • Sets out practical requirements for adoption of digital currency at scale
  • Outlines how SWIFT can support the financial community as new solutions are developed

Dubai: SWIFT and Accenture today published a paper on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in cross-border payments as part of broader digital asset innovation to help the financial community prepare for the possibility of moving payments in new forms of currency internationally.

More than half the world’s central banks are actively exploring the use of CBDCs, a development that could lead to profound change in the global payments ecosystem. This paper explores the practicalities of such a shift – from the ways in which CBDCs would move across jurisdictions to the integration of CBDCs into the mix of currencies that already exist — and details what is required for CBDCs to be a viable solution in international payments. 

Interoperability will be key to their success, and while CBDCs present new challenges and opportunities, the paper concludes that continued exploration of CBDCs are likely to leverage existing payments rails where possible, new solutions will become an extension of current infrastructure, and that SWIFT has a unique role to play in a payments ecosystem that includes CBDCs.

To that end, SWIFT is undertaking a deeper dive into CBDCs through thought leadership and experimentation over the coming months. This includes trials to see how SWIFT’s evolving platform and renewed focus on transaction management services under its new strategy to enable instant, frictionless payments across 4 billion accounts globally – agnostic of standards, technologies and currencies – could interact with the cross-border use of CBDCs. In collaboration with the community, SWIFT intends to explore its role further – both as a carrier of authenticated information about CBDC transactions, as it does today for fiat currencies, and as a carrier of actual CBDC value in whatever form it is issued. 

Thomas Zschach, Chief Innovation Officer, SWIFT said: “Making payments infrastructure based on CBDCs efficient and interoperable with the broader economy presents some new challenges, but the majority are the same as those faced by existing payment solutions. As a co-operative that is neutral and currency agnostic, with reach across 11,000 institutions in more than 200 countries, and oversight by central banks globally, SWIFT is well placed to engage closely in the debate and any future evolution of money. We look forward to actively supporting our community on issues related to CBDCs and driving responsible innovation aligned with our strategic vision for instant end-to-end transactions.”

David Treat, a senior managing director at Accenture, who leads its Blockchain and Multi-Party Systems practice globally said: “Central Bank Digital Currency has emerged as an important new tool in the global push to modernize financial infrastructure to meet the needs of our increasingly digital and connected world. As an integral part of the financial services infrastructure, SWIFT plays a critical role in illustrating the possible strategic moves its members may undertake as CBDC begins to transform the financial services landscape. We welcome this partnership and are eager to continue to drive responsible and valuable innovation together.”

About SWIFT:

SWIFT is a global member owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. We provide our community with a platform for messaging and standards for communicating, and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration, identification, analysis and regulatory compliance. 

Our messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories. While SWIFT does not hold funds or manage accounts on behalf of customers, we enable our global community of users to communicate securely, exchanging standardised financial messages in a reliable way, thereby supporting global and local financial flows, as well as trade and commerce all around the world. 

As their trusted provider, we relentlessly pursue operational excellence; we support our community in addressing cyber threats; and we continually seek ways to lower costs, reduce risks and eliminate operational inefficiencies. Our products and services support our community’s access and integration, business intelligence, reference data and financial crime compliance needs. SWIFT also brings the financial community together – at global, regional and local levels – to shape market practice, define standards and debate issues of mutual interest or concern. 

Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT’s international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure. SWIFT’s global office network ensures an active presence in all the major financial centres.

About Accenture:

Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 537,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities.