SWIFT Says It's Proved It Can Be the Way Forward for Global CBDCs

The financial messaging system said it has carried out transactions between different blockchain networks using both central bank digital currencies and fiat currencies.

AccessTimeIconOct 5, 2022 at 10:33 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:58 a.m. UTC

SWIFT, a key part of the conventional financial system that helps make cross-border payments between banks, has presented a framework for a global central bank digital currency (CBDC) system, claiming to have solved the challenge of interoperability between different networks.

Following experiments involving the central banks of France and Germany as well as HSBC, NatWest, Standard Chartered, UBS and Wells Fargo, SWIFT said it has carried out transactions between different blockchain networks, using both CBDCs and fiat currencies.

CBDCs aren't exactly cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC), but they are cousins that share similar underpinnings: the distributed ledger system known as a blockchain that bitcoin pioneered. Central banks have for years toyed with the idea of digitizing fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar as CBDCs.

Amid those central bank experiments, attention has turned to how the CBDCs of different countries could interact when using different networks.

"Blockchain networks could be interlinked for cross-border payments through a single gateway," SWIFT said Wednesday. "SWIFT’s new transaction management capabilities could orchestrate all inter-network communication."

SWIFT is a messaging system that supports international bank transactions. Its network is used in more than 200 countries by more than 11,000 financial institutions.

There have been suggestions, however, that digital currencies in the form of crypto, stablecoins or CBDCs could turn SWIFT into an also-ran. SWIFT therefore embarked on a series of experiments in December 2021 to demonstrate that it was ahead of the digital currency curve.

Alongside its work on CBDCs, SWIFT also explored tokenized assets, whereby assets like stocks and bonds are transformed into tokens that can be issued and traded in real time.

SWIFT said that it can serve as a single access point to different blockchains and that its infrastructure could be used to create and trade tokens across tokenization platforms.

CoinDesk recently reported that SWIFT was working with Chainlink, a provider of price feeds and other data to blockchains, on a cross-chain interoperability protocol to facilitate token transfers across all blockchain networks.


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Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.

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