SPIEF 2024: BRICS members discussing unified payment system – Russian finance minister

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The new settlement mechanism will allow countries to bypass Western financial messenger SWIFT, Anton Siluanov has said

BRICS finance ministers are currently examining the possibility of launching a common blockchain-based system of financial settlements that could be used in place of the Western-dominated financial messaging system SWIFT, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Friday.

Providing an alternative payment system is a key goal of the new mechanism, as US dollar settlements currently pose “great risks” for participants of global trade, Siluanov told Izvestia on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

The minister said that Russia proposes creating a common platform for exchanging digital financial assets that would be issued by central banks on the basis of national currencies.

“A new settlement system based on modern digital technologies is the thing of the future,” he said, highlighting “digital financial assets, tokens and the blockchain system” as the tools that make abandoning SWIFT possible.

The new payment system will not pose any risks for banks, as operations will not be processed through banking systems, according to Siluanov, who stressed that all the BRICS member states first have to reach an agreement on the proposal.

The use of national currencies is now the main tool for making cross-border payments for Russia, Siluanov said, adding that Moscow and its trading partners are still seeking new ways to support import-export activity.

“Settlements in national currencies are also a way out, but we see that there are restrictions for financial institutions that today are not always ready, given the sanctions risks, to process payments with Russian banks,” the minister explained.

Russia has been promoting its own domestic payment system as a reliable alternative to SWIFT, since many of the country’s financial institutions were cut off from the Western financial network in 2022. The Russian SPFS interbank messaging system ensures the secure transfer of financial messages between banks both inside and outside the country. Moscow has also accelerated efforts to move away from SWIFT by trading with international partners using their respective national currencies.

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