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Cross-border payments are stepping up their game

We wrote last week about the first cross-Atlantic instant payment system resulting from the collaboration between American Express and Santander UK and facilitated by Ripple’s blockchain. It turns out this announcement inspired other financial service providers to launch their own blockchain-based cross-border payments bridges.

Standard Chartered and Axis Bank, for instance, unveiled together this week an instant payment service for corporates using Ripple’s technology. The solution will link Indian and Singaporean companies. Himadri Chatterjee, President for transaction banking at Axis Bank, noted that from “using APIs and distributed ledger technology, there is an opportunity to radically change the way international payments are handled.”

In Europe, the new SEPA Instant Credit Transfer Scheme is changing the payment landscape. Italy-based bank UniCredit launched its real-time cross-border payments between Germany and Italy, being the first to do so. Spanish CaixaBank is surfing on the same wave and launched an instant transfer system within the same transfer scheme.

On the payment provider side, Visa is preparing to launch its own cross-border B2B payment by 2018.

In the meantime, Norwegian banks are unifying to strengthen their position on the payment scene and oppose action to challengers. DNB, banking group Eika, Sparebank 1 Gruppen and others will merge their payment systems in one integrated payment solution. Vipps CEO Rune Garborg told Reuters: “Through this undertaking, the Norwegian alternative is better positioned to compete against the major foreign players.”

Other banks favour a different approach, such as the Allied Irish Bank (AIB), which invested USD 30 million in payment service provider TransferMate to improve its presence in the cross-border payment field.

By Jean Leguy, Research Coordinator at Holland FinTech


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