New SWIFT Institute to fund research into transaction banking

25 April 2012

SWIFT is launching an Institute to fund independent research from academics and senior industry professionals on pressing issues facing the global transaction banking sector. Based in the organisation’s Brussels headquarters in Belgium, the SWIFT Institute will commission white papers, presentations and conference sessions across the payments, clearing/settlement, cash management, trade finance and securities arenas.

The SWIFT Institute’s first research grants are for reports on banking inclusion, renminbi (RMB) internationalisation and financial supply chain management, all of which are due to be delivered in November 2012, presumably in time for the annual Sibos conference in Osaka, Japan, this year. The names of the researchers have yet to be announced by SWIFT says they will be revealed shortly.

The intention behind the new body, staffed by SWIFT employees, is to foster debate and disseminate knowledge about key issues in the transaction banking field. The latter two ‘launch topics’, of RMB liberalisation and supply chain financing (SCF) are of crucial interest to corporate treasurers, while the issue of the large numbers of ‘unbanked’ citizens around the world is a key retail banking topic. The rise of mobile peer-to-peer payments platforms, remittances and other non-branch forms of transaction banking has certainly helped to bring new customers into the financial services field in Africa and the developing world in recent years and it offers hope of serving the large numbers of ‘unbanked’ people in developed countries who cannot shop online or take part in the modern digital economy at present.

An advisory council comprising of academics, central and transaction bankers has been established to set the SWIFT Institute’s strategy and research priorities. Confirmed members so far include:

• Professor Dr R.J. (Ron) Berndsen, head of the oversight department, cash and payment systems division, De Nederlandsche Bank. Berndsen is also an endowed professor of financial infrastructure and systemic risk at Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

• Sir Howard Davies, professor of practice at the French School of Political Science (Sciences Po). The ex-London School of Economics director was the first chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority and is a trained economist.

• Darrell Duffie, Dean Witter distinguished professor of finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

• Dr Guillermo Ortiz Martinez, chairman of Grupo Financiero Banorte-IXE, one of Mexico’s largest financial services companies.

• John Trundle, chief executive officer (CEO) at Euroclear UK and Ireland. The ex-chief risk officer at the clearer took over the top job at the turn of the year and started out at the Bank of England.

Also on the board is SWIFT’S CEO Lázaro Campos and its chairman and operations officer, Yawar Shah. The latter explained that, “SWIFT is stepping up to [meet] the requests of the banking industry, especially from the leaders of global transaction banking businesses, to foster research in this important area to assist with thought leadership on key strategic matters. It is a limited but important initiative for SWIFT in its role as a global, neutral, trusted third party.”

According to Berndsen, the Institute will focus on areas of the financial infrastructure that can benefit from greater understanding and improvement. “Our goal is research that will ultimately benefit the financial services industry, and its underlying customers,” he added.

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