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SWIFT publishes paper on importance of digitising trade

By Leandra Monteiro

September 08, 2021

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SWIFTSWIFT, a leading provider of secure financial messaging services, published a paper that examines the impact of COVID-19 on international trade, while also discussing the key challenges and enablers of trade digitisation. The paper leverages SWIFT data to outline how efforts to digitise trade could reduce friction in global commerce and translate into economic growth.

According to SWIFT Watch, documentary trade finance had declined by as much as 49% week on week by late April 2020. It took the rest of the year for volumes to rebound, with documentary trade ending the year down 11%. Despite the overall drop in global trade last year, SWIFT processed more than US$2 trillion in documentary trade in 2020 while usage of its Digital Trade Channel solution increased by over 72%, illustrating the appetite among corporations for digitisation.

In noting the challenges faced by efforts to digitise trade, the paper considers how, in addition to technology, legal harmonisation, standardisation and interoperability will be crucial to facilitating digital trade in an ecosystem that is characterised by a myriad of actors, technologies, standards, rules, regulations and legal jurisdictions.

As a global, neutral co-operative and an integral part of the world’s financial system, SWIFT is well- positioned to lend its expertise in these matters to support the industry in tackling trade inefficiencies in a cost-efficient, interoperable, and scaled manner.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Louise Taylor-Digby, Head of Trade Strategy at SWIFT, said, “The pandemic has underlined the need to accelerate the digitisation of trade and we will support these efforts by expanding our capabilities beyond messaging and documentary trade, while building on our role as a standards authority, our API capabilities and our partner strategy. We are working towards a future ecosystem, one that offers the community access both proprietary and third-party trade services via the SWIFT platform, while leaning on our identity, security, and standards protocols. This is backed by our ability to reach over 11,000 institutions and the 4 billion customer accounts they serve.”

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