SWIFT Testing “Significant Efficiencies” with Blockchain

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  • SWIFT is testing the use of a blockchain network, according to Bloomberg
  • The financial-messaging service is using Symbiont as its partner in the test
  • The news casts further doubt on the ambitions of Ripple

Financial-messaging giant SWIFT is testing blockchain technology, according to Bloomberg, potentially putting another nail in the coffin of Ripple. Bloomberg says that the payment processing giant is “piloting a project with fintech company Symbiont Inc.” that will use smart contracts and blockchain capabilities to “create a network effect that leverages our 11,000 plus institutions connected to SWIFT globally.” Four years ago, Ripple was supposed to be the company to lead SWIFT into the blockchain revolution, but with this partnership it seems those dreams could be well and truly dead now.

SWIFT Eyes “Significant Efficiencies” With Blockchain

Not much is known about the SWIFT/Symbiont plan, but bloomberg quoted Tom Zschach, chief innovation officer at SWIFT, as saying:

“By bringing Symbiont’s Assembly and smart contracts together with SWIFT’s extensive network, we’re able to automatically harmonize data from multiple sources of a corporate action event. This can lead to significant efficiencies.”

These efficiencies are exactly what blockchain technology was designed to solve, and SWIFT has not been unaware of this need to modernise – it has already partnered with the Bank of International Settlements to explore the benefits of using a common language for cross-border payments.

Ripple Hopes Finally Extinguished

The news will be a further blow to any remaining reputation of Ripple, the payments processor that was supposed to be the answer to banking friction. In November 2018 there were rumours that SWIFT was planning to get into bed with Ripple, with many outlets reporting on it at the time, but it turned out that this was based on nothing more than a Ripple representative attending a SWIFT conference.

Shortly after this linkup was denied, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse made a very bold claim to Bloomberg:

I think what we’re doing and executing on a day-by-day basis is – in fact – taking over SWIFT. In that, we’ve now signed up well over 100 banks. Some of the largest SWIFT-enabled banks in the world are now using Ripple’s technology.

This is getting on for four years ago now, and the time hasn’t been kind on Ripple; JPMorgan has hoovered up many of Ripple’s potential customers with its Interbank Information Network, while it seems that SWIFT is now exploring its own route into blockchain money transfers.

It looks like the XRP Army has finally been defeated.