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Global Payments Initiatives Rise in Europe & Latin America

By Megan Doyle

Recent developments suggest banks and fintech companies across Europe and Latin America are working to reshape cross-border payments. Specifically, financial institutions are pursuing various global payments initiatives using blockchain, bitcoin, and other digital technologies to make international payments faster, cheaper, and easier for business and consumers.

In Europe, a single pan-Nordic payment infrastructure called Project 27 (P27) is being developed. P27 aims to update the region’s aging infrastructure to enable real-time payments in different currencies between different Nordic countries. In the U.K., the Post Office retail company is partnering with a payment provider to enhance cross-border payments and improve international money transfers for businesses and consumers.

 

Meanwhile, Latin America—a region in which cross-border payments have been historically slow and expensive—is exploring bitcoin and blockchain in hopes to revolutionize the international payments industry.

 

P27 to Enable Instant Cross-Border Payments

 

P27, a Nordic cross-border payments initiative, aims to create a payments infrastructure specifically for the 27 million of inhabitants of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark.1 Financed by six major Nordic banks in a collaborative effort, the project will consolidate existing payments services into a single payments system for the region.

 

According to reports, P27 will enable real-time and batch payments between the different Nordic countries in multiple currencies. Consumers and businesses will both be able to take advantage of the new system and send real-time payments initiated via mobile phone or corporate bank account.2 Other benefits include instant payments at a lower cost and simplified payment processing due to the consolidated platform.3

 

Banks are expected to see a number of benefits as well, such as lower clearance costs, reduced maintenance and development costs, and an improved foundation for future technological innovation.4

 

P27 will follow international standards and the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) rules, and is scheduled to go live in early 2021.5

 

U.K.’s Post Office to Enhance International Payments

In mid-2019, the Post Office, a U.K. retail company that offers a range of postal, governmental, and financial services, teamed up with a cross-border payments platform to expand its digital global payments initiative. The partnership aims to solve the current complexities of cross-border, cross-currency transactions.6 Users will be able to send near real-time payments in multiple currencies to bank accounts, mobile wallets, and retail locations in numerous countries and territories.7

 

Latin America Uses Blockchain to Expand Global Payments Initiative

Another fintech-bank partnership developed in mid-2019, when Uruguay-based bank technology provider, Bantotal, joined forces with a cryptocurrency exchange, Bitex. The partnership will allow 60 Latin American banks in 14 countries to use bitcoin and blockchain to make international payments.8

 

Historically, Latin America has been notorious for slow, expensive cross-border payments. But blockchain technology could revolutionize payments in the region, benefitting banks, small businesses, and consumers in several ways:9

 

  • More visibility: Banks will gain access to an API, allowing more visibility and control over the international payments process.
  • Faster payments: In one instance, payment time between Argentina and Paraguay went from one month to one hour.
  • Lower cost: Blockchain-based money transfers are expected to be five times less expensive than traditional international wire transfers.

To improve international payments, Bitex cryptocurrency exchange will convert real money into bitcoin and back. This way, international payments won’t have to go through several stages of real currency exchanges.10 Bitex Chief Marketing Officer Manuel Beaudroit explains this example: “If I want to do a payment from Argentina to Chile, I don’t need to buy dollars with the Argentinian pesos then transfer the dollars to the U.S. then move the dollars to Chile and exchange them into Chilean pesos. I can just send a payment from Argentina to Chile directly [using bitcoin].”

 

Meanwhile, two South American companies are using Ripple technology to provide cross-border payments. Currency Bird, a Chilean money transfer company, has partnered with Ripple to join over 200 banks and financial institutions for cross-border payments.11

 

As of mid-2019, more than a dozen Brazilian financial institutions have begun to use Ripple.12 BeeTech Global financial services, for example, provides international payment services to more than 150,000 customers worldwide. Ripple has helped the company reduce its cross-border payment fees from $20 to $2. Similarly, Brazil’s Banco Rendimento uses Ripple to help customers quickly, safely, and cheaply make and receive international payments.

The

Takeaway:

Banks and fintech companies are recognizing potential benefits of shifting to a digital international payments landscape. Europe, U.K., and Latin America are among the regions around the world developing global payment initiatives based on technologies like blockchain. As a result, businesses, consumers, and banks around the world may soon begin to experience faster, cheaper, and more reliable international payments.

Megan Doyle - The Author

The Author

Megan Doyle

Megan Doyle is a business technology writer and researcher based in Wantagh, NY, whose work focuses primarily on financial services technology.

Sources

1. “P27 – Establishing a pan-Nordic payment infrastructure with instant cross-border payments as a key deliverable,” Instapay; https://www.instapay.today/insight/p27-establishing-a-pan-nordic-payment-infrastructure-with-instant-cross-border-payments-as-a-key-deliverable/
2. “Nordic FIs Agree To Fund Instant Payments Service P27,” PYMNTS.com; https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2019/nordic-fis-to-finance-instant-payments-service-p27/
3. “P27 – Establishing a pan-Nordic payment infrastructure with instant cross-border payments as a key deliverable,” Instapay; https://www.instapay.today/insight/p27-establishing-a-pan-nordic-payment-infrastructure-with-instant-cross-border-payments-as-a-key-deliverable/
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. “Western Union Teams With UK’s Post Office To Digitize Global Payments,” PYMNTS.com; https://www.pymnts.com/digital-payments/2019/western-union-uk-post-office-global-payments/
7. “Post Office partners Western Union for digital international payments,” FinTech Futures; https://www.fintechfutures.com/2019/07/post-office-partners-western-union-for-digital-international-payments/
8. “60 Latin American Banks Can Now Use Bitcoin for Cross-Border Payments,” Coindesk; https://www.coindesk.com/60-latin-american-banks-can-now-use-bitcoin-for-cross-border-payments
9. “Sixty LATAM Banks Use Bitcoin To Process Cross-Border Payments,” PYMNTS; https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/60-latam-banks-can-now-process-cross-border-payments-using-bitcoin/
10. Ibid.
11. “Ripple Expands in South America, Partners with Chilean Company,” Altcoin Buzz; https://www.altcoinbuzz.io/crypto-news/partnerships/ripple-expands-in-south-america-partners-with-chilean-company/
12. “Ripple Officially Launches Operations in Brazil,” Ripple; https://www.ripple.com/insights/featured/ripple-officially-launches-operations-in-brazil/

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