SWIFT: Universal Payment Confirmations – All You Need to Know

The SWIFT global payments innovation (gpi) service is the largest change in cross-border payments over the last 30 years and is the new standard. SWIFT gpi dramatically improves the customer experience in cross-border payments by increasing their speed, transparency and end-to-end tracking. Hundreds of thousands of cross-border payments are being sent every day using the new gpi standard. Payments are made quickly, typically within minutes, even seconds.

SWIFT gpi is already delivering incredibly benefits to banks across the globe. More than 630 financial institutions are live today with gpi customer credit transfers covering 148 currencies. One million cross-border payments, worth $300bn are sent daily with gpi across nearly 1400+ country corridors.

SWIFT’s aim is to create a seamless cross-border payments experience for our community and their customers. Payment confirmations are the next piece in the puzzle.

Why do we need payment confirmations?

We receive confirmations about things every day. When we send an instant message to a friend, we get a tick to let us know they have received it. When we make an online purchase, we get a notification from the courier that our parcel has safely arrived where and when we expected it to.

The same principle applies to payments. Payment confirmations provide the originating bank a notification that the end beneficiary has had the funds credited to their account. Payment confirmations could help facilitate the smooth flow of money around the world.

Banks often have to handle multiple queries on the status of payments, creating frustrations for their customers and adding operational overheads. This can also put a strain on the relationship between a buyer and seller when there is a problem with a payment.

Businesses need to know that a payment has arrived – this is an integral part of their supply chain. Without this step, trade can be impacted and goods and services could be delayed. Confirmations therefore enable banks to provide an improved customer experience by offering transparency and certainty that the funds have reached their destination.

Universal payments confirmation – coming 2020

Currently, SWIFT gpi member banks have access to the full tracking and confirmation features of gpi, including full visibility on the status of a payment, the relevant fees attached, and FX and remittance information.

By the end of 2020, SWIFT will extend the benefits of tracking and confirming payments to every financial institution. As part of this, every single customer payment (MT 103 on FIN) will require a confirmation that the funds have been credited to the end beneficiary account.

For banks who are not gpi members yet, confirmations can be sent through a range of automated and manual solutions.

  • For banks that handle only a few payments per day, we’re introducing a free way to track and confirm payments – the Basic Tracker – a light version of the gpi Tracker allowing banks to confirm payments manually. Basic Tracker users who meet the universal confirmation business rules will also gain the added bonus of access to basic search and tracking features. And the Basic Tracker provides a smooth upgrade path to the full version of gpi.
  • Banks will also be able to confirm payments through their existing SWIFT interface by using MT 199 messages to send status updates, or for customers who have access to the gpi connector, by sending API calls.
  • And we’re also building out solutions to provide payment confirmations through an ISO 20022 message standard, as well as a batch confirmation option.

Universal confirmations will become mandatory for all financial institutions on FIN as part of SWIFT’s 2020 annual Standards MT Release. It will already be possible for non-gpi members to provide confirmations as from November this year when the Standards MT Release 2019 is activated.

To find out more about payment confirmations, visit www.swift.com/confirm