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Is Visa really squaring up to Swift with Visa B2B Connect blockchain platform?

Visa recently signed a deal enabling FIS’ clients to have access to Visa B2B Connect. The  uses blockchain to make high-value corporate payments internationally without using SWIFT.

Visa B2B Connect

Is Visa really squaring up to Swift with blockchain platform?

In order to provide the service, the banks of both counterparties need to be on the B2B Connect network. The partnership between Visa and FIS shortcuts the process of building the network alone.

FIS is a major provider of solutions to the banking sector, it currently has over 20,000 clients spanning 130 countries and moves $9 trillion of money a year and has built a custom integration module to reduce the work required for clients to integrate with the B2B Connect network.

With SWIFT most banks don’t have direct banking relationships with other banks. So many payments are sent via the correspondent banking network, using an intermediary bank to make the payment. This is often the cause of slow payments and delays, particularly where there are queries which is more likely with high-value payments. By using VISA B2B Connect, banks can circumvent the correspondent banking network.

However, whilst Swift is slow, it should be made clear Visa is not offering instant payments. It says the time will be significantly shorter at one to two days. The target is high-value payments so they will all be subject to money laundering procedures.

“Innovation in cross-border B2B payments is long overdue. Visa’s core strategy is to help clients and partners drastically improve their customers’ friction-filled experiences,” explains Kevin Phalen, global head, Visa Business Solutions, Visa.

“Our goal with Visa B2B Connect is to build a product that is scalable and meets the needs of an industry environment where compliance, control, governance and security are all of equal importance.”

Six months ago Visa made a big switch moving the B2B Connect technology over to IBM and Hyperledger Fabric.  Visa also recently won a bidding war with Mastercard to acquire Earthport which has direct banking relationships in 87 countries and is a Ripple partner.

There’s a lot of innovation happening in the blockchain payments sector outside of cryptocurrencies. JP Morgan has its Interbank Information Network of more than 220 banks which currently helps to address sanctions screening with more ambitious plans going forward. Ripple has a high profile solution and has attracted several remittance companies and some banks.

Visa has confirmed that the B2B Connect platform has been operating a pilot program since last year with plans for a commercial launch in 2019.

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