Cash & Liquidity ManagementPaymentsSWIFTWhat will the world look like when all payments are confirmed?

What will the world look like when all payments are confirmed?

By 2020, Universal Confirmations will become mandatory for all financial institutions using SWIFT. Craig Ramsey, Head of Real-Time Payments at ACI Worldwide envisions the impact

There is no doubt that the cross-border payments landscape is changing quickly and dramatically. A few years ago, this might have sounded like a fantasy, but soon all cross-border payments will be real-time, seamlessly integrated into the transaction experience, at a fair and transparent price.

Historically cross-border payments have been shrouded in mystery when it comes to payment status, delivery dates and final settlement value, due to FX fluctuations and the fees chain in the correspondent banking model. All of this has added up to a lack of certainty in cross-border payments, preventing corporates from making informed business decisions.

However, over the last few years, customers’ expectations have changed rapidly due to new digital norms mandating immediate access to accurate data. New payment providers have been challenging incumbents using technology to disrupt traditional models, putting pressure on costs. And regulation is increasingly protecting end-customers and focusing on market reform, fostering more competition and increased requirements related to liquidity and risk management.

SWIFTgpi is paving the way for the future of cross-border payments

SWIFTgpi has without doubt transformed the cross-border payments experience, paving the way for its future. Since it was launched in 2016, more than 500 banks have joined the new service. By embracing SWIFTgpi – the new standard in global payments – financial institutions are now sending and receiving funds quickly and securely to anyone, anywhere in the world, with full transparency over where a payment is at any given moment. SWIFTgpi dramatically improves cross-border payments across the correspondent banking network, and not least for corporates for which speed, certainty and a smooth international payments experience is an absolute must

SWIFTgpi has quickly become the new norm for cross-border payments and enables financial institutions to provide fast, transparent, certain and trackable cross-border payments to their customers.

Making confirmations available to non gpi-members

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 payment (MT 103 on FIN) will require a confirmation that funds have been credited to the end beneficiary account within two business days.

Financial institutions on SWIFT that are not gpi-enabled will be able to confirm their incoming payments manually using a new Basic Tracker, as well as through a range of other automated solutions. SWIFTgpi member banks will continue to be able to access the full gpi Tracker to confirm payments, as well as benefit from the full search and tracking features of gpi, along with the suite of value-added services.

Confirmations are required within a maximum of two business days following the value date indicated in the MT 103 for non-gpi members. However, banks and FIs are encouraged to provide a confirmation as soon as possible. All FIN users receiving MT 103 will be monitored for timely provision of confirmations and this will become visible to counterparties.

Why are Universal Confirmations so important?

We receive confirmation of things every day. When we send an instant message to a friend, we get a tick to let us know they have received it, or when we make an online purchase, we get a notification from the courier that our parcel has safely arrived where 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. It provides certainty to transactions needed to keep the wheels of trade turning.

Payment confirmations are necessary to 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 also has a knock-on effect of putting a strain on the relationship between a buyer and seller when there is a problem with a payment.

Businesses depend on knowing that a payment has arrived as an integral part of their supply chain. Without this step, trade can grind to a halt and goods and services end up delayed. Confirmations enable banks to provide an excellent customer experience by offering transparency and certainty that the funds have reached their destination and are available to the beneficiary.

Pilot Programme to go live in October 2019

As one of the longest-standing vendor partners to SWIFT, ACI Worldwide is supporting SWIFT’s pilot programme for Universal Confirmations. For ACI, this is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with SWIFT and increase our offering to the payments industry. Our joint pilot programme is due to go live at the end of October 2019 – a full 12 months before the mandate. ACI is proud to make this offering available to all our customers one year ahead of the deadline.

ACI’s customers that are not gpi members will be able to benefit from the pilot programme as they see the value in leveraging Universal Confirmations to improve the customer experience for corporates, reduce costs through improved efficiency—reducing payment enquiries and accelerating investigation handling, and building out new value-added services.

Many customers are demanding the transparency that Universal Confirmations offer and are determined to action as soon as possible. Additionally, SWIFT provides access to the testing robot for all its pilot members as a free resource – so it makes sense to take advantage of this.


Join ACI Worldwide at Sibos 2019 in London, September 23-26, for a joint session with SWIFT What will the world look like when all payments are confirmed? Get ready for 2020, featuring ACI’s Craig Ramsey, head of Real-Time Payments. (Monday, Sept 23, 13:00-13:45, SWIFT Room 1). Visit at Booth Q125 to find out how to accelerate your business with real-time payments and Open Banking strategies.

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