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BBVA breaks new ground with SWIFT gpi international payments

Since SWIFT gpi was launched in 2017, BBVA has managed three million transactions – equivalent to €2 trillion – using this international payment standard. BBVA staunchly supports this global payment mechanism, which delivers speed and transparency to cross-border payments. Now SWIFT gpi aims to offer instant payments.

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The international payment domain has traditionally been full of friction given the complexity of the process: it involves various entities and different countries, across multiple time zones – all of which contributes to a long process that is not at all transparent to the customer. BBVA was one of the first ten banks worldwide to embrace SWIFT gpi (Global Payment Initiative), a standard developed by the global payment network and designed to make payments faster and commissions more transparent, as well as to provide end-to-end traceability and access to enriched transaction data.

Since then, BBVA's commitment to the gpi standard has been unequivocal: In 2017, BBVA was the first bank in Spain, Mexico, Peru, and Turkey to offer the service. BBVA is also the first Spanish bank to give its customers full access to data related to their international payments. Furthermore, since the beginning of 2019, BBVA's Enterprise Client Solutions division has been working to offer gpi payment traceability from the BBVA net cash channel to the SWIFT channel as well as to its direct, host-to-host channels.

Today all BBVA international payments in Spain are sent over gpi. Consequently, all customers (consumer as well as business) receive the associated benefits of fast transactions and quality of service. In fact, since gpi was launched, BBVA has completed more than three million transactions, representing a volume worth more than €2 trillion.

In terms of speed, almost 50 percent of gpi transactions are credited to the beneficiary's account in less than half an hour. "And of these, 38 percent arrive in less than five minutes," stresses Raouf Soussi, BBVA's head of Corporate Payments Strategy. Soussi believes the payment segment still has room to innovate and improve on the customer experience, as was demonstrated by the new instant payments pilot, which took place at Sibos, the world’s premier financial services conference.

BBVA, together with the European Central Bank (ECB) and 18 other financial institutions, participated in SWIFT's instant payment pilot, which aimed to prove the feasibility of making fund transfers anywhere in the world  in a matter of seconds.

Instant-payment pilot

The pilot demonstrated that it is possible to further reduce international transfer times by connecting the SWIFT gpi network to the instant payment infrastructure that already exists in different countries. To carry out the test, the gpi standard was integrated with the Eurosystem infrastructure, TIPS (TARGET Instant Payment Settlement). TIPS enables registered European banks to make real time transfers, any time of day, every day of the year.

"On top of the benefits SWIFT gpi already provides – transparency and traceability, for example – we have added the real time processing and 24/7 availability that TIPS delivers. These improvements allow us to further increase the speed and transparency of payments, thus ensuring better service for our customers, anywhere in the world,” Soussi explains.

This pilot represents a significant step in the continuous improvement of the international payment user experience, a service that still has significant challenges to address. "The account pre-validation service prior to making payments and extending our gpi services across the rest of the Group's footprint are the challenges we are currently tackling. We will also continue to participate in pilots like this one for instant payments because by doing so we continue to break new ground in the world of payments,” BBVA's Head of Corporate Payments Strategy concludes.