by Wendi Wang, Levi J Parsons
Since going online last year, Chinese banks have played a leading role in trialling a new financial technology that allows frictionless, real-time cross-border transactions.
One of the first to take part in SWIFT's Global Payments Innovation (GPI) was the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and since then they've rolled out the service to 36 financial institutions under the ICBC group around the world, covering 23 major currencies.
"ICBC has formed customized arrangements based on GPI service for individuals, enterprises and peers," Peng Hua, deputy general manager of the ICBC operations management department, told Xinhua recently at the 2018 SIBOS conference in Sydney.
"Customers can handle cross-border remittances easily through channels such as mobile banking, online banking and smart terminals."
Being able to track international payments end to end, the technology not only makes cross-border transactions safer and more transparent, but also allows a greater amount of information to be transferred with the payment.
"To give you an example, so many Chinese students are studying around the world at universities in the U.S. or right here in Sydney and you need to make an education or a tuition payment to the university, that payment needs to have identification information and details about the study of that Chinese student," head of Payments at SWIFT Asia-Pacific Michael Moon explained.
"In the past, that would get lost in the payment, the university would have to call the financial institution and say where is the payment? I don't have enough information."
"But now with SWIFT GPI, the banks in China can now facilitate those tuition payments stripping out the friction ... making them faster and more information rich."
In November 2017, another big player, China Minsheng Bank, also came on board launching the Minsheng Global Express GPI, making it the third financial institution in China to utilize the technology.
Linking it to six of its platforms, customers can now make GPI payments for public online banking, personal online banking, mobile banking, credit cards, foreign currency transactions and international settlements.
"Minsheng Bank has served many domestic private enterprises and small and micro enterprises, in the process of overseas investment, overseas financing and international trade, they need a large amount of remittances, and they've benefited from GPI," President of China Minsheng Bank Zheng Wanchun told Xinhua.
"With efforts to solve problems regarding the cycle of cross-border payments and payment statuses as the starting point, we will now steadily promote the second phase of research and development of Minsheng Global Express GPI cross-border payment."