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Digital processing 11 Oct 2018

SWIFT gpi: the digital revolution makes its mark in international payments

The digital revolution is making itself felt in the area of international payments in response to the demands and needs of customers. As a key player in the transformation of the financial sector, BBVA has played an active role in bringing all of the advantages provided SWIFT gpi to its clients. It is the first bank in Spain to offer this service.

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‘Global Payment Initiative’, also known by the acronym gpi, is the latest initiative launched by SWIFT to improve the customer-bank experience in the world of international payments. But what improvements are we talking about exactly? What new features does this initiative offer companies?

International transactions have been traditionally been veiled in mystery. The large number of players from different countries involved as well as a lack of a common standard makes an international transfer difficult to manage. On the one hand, information on the status of the payment, the delivery date and the final amount of the payment are difficult to estimate and on the other the handling of incidents arising from the process has so far been very manual.


There are currently over 200 financial institutions involved in SWIFT gpi.

Banks across the globe, including BBVA, have been working for years to make cross-border payments fast and smooth. One of the main initiatives in this area is gpi which SWIFT launched in the market in 2016 with the idea of improving customer experience in the world of international payments. There are currently over 200 financial institutions involved in SWIFT gpi.

Quicker and more transparent

SWIFT gpi is a new standard that brings to the table a series of significant improvements in how international payments are handled, thereby, enhancing the final service for the customer. This new facility makes for quicker payments with full transparency on accompanying costs, while providing on-the-spot information on the status of transactions. This boosts operating efficiency when it comes to possible queries by customers.

The transformation of the process of international payments reflects the response SWIFT gpi has made to what customers have been asking for:

  • When is the payment carried out? Payment is effective on the same day the payment process is initiated (as allowed by differences in operating hours), which helps strengthen commercial relations with suppliers. Greater speed is without doubt one of the strengths of gpi.
  • How much does it cost to make the payment? The basic characteristic of the new initiative is transparency since it provides a breakdown of all of the costs involved in the payment, including exchange-rate costs.
  • Where is the payment? The status of the payment situation with respect to correspondent banks is available at all times. This traceability is possible due to the Unique End-to-end Transaction Reference, (UETR) a unique reference associated with each payment that is kept and shared by the different banks involved in the operation. The process finalizes with confirmation the payment has been deposited in the beneficiary's account.
  • How is the payment identified? Information regarding the payment remains unchanged and homogeneous during the process. That is, details provided by the issuer are the same as those received by the recipient as a result of the commitment established between the banks taking part in SWIFT gpi.

Swift GPI will be available soon in BBVA net cash and before the end of the year in direct channels (SWIFT and Host-to-host) allowing BBVA clients to access full details of their international payments.

*Raouf Soussi, is head of payments strategy for corporate clients within BBVA’s Client Solutions department.