SWIFT Responds to Bitspark’s Accusations That It Is Slowing Innovation

SWIFT Responds to Bitspark’s Accusations That It Is Slowing Innovation

by June 5, 2019
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In his recently published e-book, George Harrap co-founder of Hong Kong based blockchain remittance startup Bitspark, pointed fingers at SWIFT for slowing innovation within the money transfer space.

SWIFT reached out to Fintech News Hong Kong to respond to several assertions that Bitspark has made against the organisation.

In the interest of providing a balanced view for our readers, we will be outlining SWIFT’s response to the assertions made in George Harrap’s new e-book.

SWIFT Is Getting in the Way of Innovation

In its statement SWIFT argues that instead of hampering innovation, they have been playing an active role in promoting it.

The organisation pointed out Innotribe as an example, a decade long initiative seeking to foster collaboration between fintech players and SWIFT. According to SWIFT , it has given out grants of close to € 1 Million since the inception of Innotribe.

SWIFT also pointed out that in supporting their goal to enable innovation, they have organised “Industry Challenges” in the past which brings together a number of selected fintech startups, subject matter experts from around SWIFT, and targeted SWIFT customers to collaborate around a bounded problem area or domain.

They added that during SWIFT’s flagship event SIBOS, they have heavily subsidised 80 fintechs to showcase their innovations to over 8,000 decisions makers from the financial services sector. They further emphasized that cost of participating was a fraction of what fintechs would have paid to participate it the wildly popular fintech conference, Money 20/20.

SWIFT’s Elitist Network Does Not Allow for New and Innovative Players

In response that statement, SWIFT emphasized that they are a neutral global cooperative that continues to champion innovation for the financial industry by providing secure financial messaging services to its over 11,000 members.

They further elaborated that SWIFT is governed by a board composed of 25 independent directors, elected by its shareholders. The Board composition is designed to reflect usage of SWIFT messaging services, ensure SWIFT’s global relevance, support its international reach and uphold its strict neutrality.

SWIFT added that anyone with a banking license is welcomed to join SWIFT as long as they can provide the proper documentation. They cited Ebury’s case of being the first fintech to go live with SWIFT gpi as an example

The Current Money Transfer System is Slow

George Harrap said in his e-book that in this day age money transfers should not take 1-5 days. SWIFT claims that the statement is factually inaccurate, according to them, all gpi payments are cleared within 24 hours and more than half of them clear within 15 minutes.

According to SWIFT over 56% of all SWIFT customer payments are now sent as gpi and they are currently working on extending the benefits of gpi to a wider range of corporates and markets.

They also cited their recent trial between Australia and Singapore that saw a transaction completed within 60 seconds to illustrate that payments are not longer that slow.

SWIFT’s statements however failed to mention that despite advancements in gpi, when there are multiple banks involved in the payment chain, and the final leg needs to be cleared within the recipient country, the domestic payments are sometimes delayed owing to the limited operating hours of the local clearing systems.

Blockchain Could One Day Replace SWIFT

SWIFT shared that they could easily plug in blockchain into its system as a technology option if there was political will from its 11,000 members.

Claiming that because they are technology agnostic, they could combined their currently available capabilities and infrastructure with DLT based services.

The organisation also highlighted that they are not blind to the development of the space, and have in fact been actively monitoring it alongside the financial community.

To back their argument up, they pointed out that SWIFT has conducted over 10 proofs-of-concept over the past 3 years, including eVoting for the Singapore Stock Exchange and their ambitious Nostro trial.

In closing SWIFT emphasized that always strive to innovate, experiment and co-create value with consultation with the community.

A full summary of George Harrap’s e-book where he claims that SWIFT is hampering innovation can be found here

Image Credit: SWIFT

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