Cross border payments – an update on some key developments

by David Irish | October 25, 2022

The ability to make “faster” or “real-time” payments has made a significant difference to the local payments space. The convenience it provides and ability to better manage cash flow is driving the increase in its usage and it should in time become the norm.

Unfortunately, the transparency and speed of payments does not apply to the cross-border payments space. The current mechanisms for cross-border payments were explained in our article written in July last year.1

In a recent series of interviews, Deutshe Bank provided a concise insight into the key innovations in the global payments landscape that are driving change, and the drive towards:

  1. Fast and secure settlement
  2. Low, predictable and transparent fee structures
  3. Traceability when things go wrong
  4. Comprehensive and accurate transaction data

Any business that pays or receives foreign currency will know about SWIFT. SWIFT has been the standard mechanism used for settling foreign payments for decades. For many years there were no significant changes to the platform but with pressure being applied, in particular with the advent of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, SWIFT has initiated new innovations to move closer to the objectives above.

The key innovations that SWIFT has developed are:


SWIFT gpi (Global Payments Innovation) was developed to improve the experience of making a payment via the SWIFT network for both customers and banks. Its intention is to upgrade the old standards to meet greater demands for pricing, transparency of fees, end-to-end payment tracking, and confirmation of credit to the recipient’s account.

SWIFT gpi was launched in 2017 and the number of banks using it globally exceeds 3,700.

SWIFT gpi combines the traditional SWIFT messaging and banking system with a new set of rules. Any bank that joins gpi has to follow these rules.

According to SWIFT:2

  1. Nearly 50% of gpi payments are credited to end beneficiaries within 30 minutes, 40% in under 5 minutes, and almost 100% of gpi payments are credited within 24 hours.
  2. With gpi, banks can track their payment flows end-to-end and in real time. This provides maximum visibility on ongoing cross-border transactions. And when problems occur or customers have a question, banks can intervene faster to resolve any issues or enquires in a timely and efficient way.
  3. Through gpi, banks can provide their customers with full visibility on processing fees, exchange rate costs and processing times.


Building on the success of SWIFT GPI, SWIFT Go is aimed at providing small to medium sized businesses with upfront predictability of cross-border payments. Whereas GPI gives great post payment transparency on fees, speed and payment status tracking SWIFT Go users will be able to know upfront when the beneficiary will receive their funds and how much they will receive. Unlike SWIFT GPI where banks have to process payments the same day, banks using SWIFT Go, have to process the payments within 4 hours.

SWIFT Go is still in its early days having started with seven banks and at the last count having over 100 banks on board.

Other innovations improving the cross-border payments landscape

ISO 20022

ISO 20022 is a global and open standard that creates a common language for payments worldwide. The benefits of ISO 20022 include:3

  1. Richer, better structured and more granular data
  2. More transparency and more remittance information
  3. Improved analytics, less manual intervention, more accurate compliance processes, higher resilience and improved fraud prevention measures.
  4. Modern, mainstream XML technology which is well supported, and which facilitates efficient integration.
  5. Supports end-to-end automation

Progress is expected from November 2022 onwards when a number of key infrastructures will migrate to ISO 20022.

Interlinking of domestic payment systems

One of the challenges in cross-border payments relate to global commerce operating across different time zones. This means that each time zone needs to have its own cut-off times for payment processing. Batch processing in global payments is also a challenge. One solution that is being pursued is the interlinking of different countries domestic real-time payments infrastructures. For example, there are currently pilot projects running to link Europe and the US’s domestic instant payments system to facilitate real-time payments between the two jurisdictions. Early tests have already seen a euro-to-US-dollar transaction completed within 11 seconds, demonstrating that the current infrastructure has the potential to compete with CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currency) when it comes to speed in the cross-border space.4

New initiatives in cross-border payments are being announced almost daily and it is difficult to know where the dust will settle. But it is clear that banks and other fintech players are driving fast and hard to provide customers with a superior experience.

If you want to learn more or have any further insights into the cross-border payment space, please connect with us. Contact Dale Petersen on 021 819 7802 or at


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