According to Toshi Times, Jose Dakak, the principal shareholder of Argentinian bank Banco Masventas, has stated that the bank will drop out from the global financial network SWIFT and begin utilizing the Bitcoin blockchain network to settle international payments.
Can Bitcoin Replace SWIFT?
Through a strategic partnership with Bitex, a cryptocurrency payment service provider based in South America, Dakak explained that the bank will outsource the conversion process of bitcoin to fiat currencies to Bitex, which will then send bitcoin to the recipient. The end cost would be the bitcoin transaction fee that is sent to the miners that verify transactions on the blockchain and the fee charged by Bitex.
“The service allows you to reduce costs associated with international transfers as there are no international banks as intermediaries,” said Banco Masventas.
Dakak noted that one of the initial actions the bank took to streamline the implementation process of bitcoin was to cooperate with the Bitex development team to ensure recipients of bitcoin payments can seamlessly receive cryptocurrency transactions without boundaries. Dakak stated:
“One of the actions was to contract Bitex as a strategic partner in the implementation of the Bitex platform for payments and collections operations for our clients abroad.”
The SWIFT network, which is utilized by the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions, is essentially a messaging network that enables banks to share information. Sending a payment from one bank to another requires a message to be sent on the SWIFT network, which has to be verified manually.
Sending international payments and remittance transactions on the SWIFT network can take at least five business days to three weeks, depending on the size of the payment. Because most international payments processed by banks are large, it often takes more than a week for the payment to be cleared.
Bitcoin is not the most flexible blockchain network and it does not have the biggest capacity. But, it is the most robust blockchain protocol with the longest track record, equipped with one of the most active open-source development groups in the industry. Its transparency and security allow the Bitcoin network to operate as a reliable financial network for international payments.
Moreover, most international payments sent by banks, as stated above, are often large transactions that cannot be processed by remittance outlets. Although bitcoin transaction fees could be an issue for $1 to $10 payments, for payments above $1,000, the bitcoin transaction fee is a non-issue.
Why is SWIFT Still Used?
The SWIFT network is not only operated by leading banks by owned by the world’s biggest financial institutions. As such, even though the SWIFT network is outdated and utilizes an inferior technology, banks have the obligation to use it. That is, until minor banks like Bank Masventas opt out of the SWIFT network and begin to leverage public financial networks like bitcoin, which are completely decentralized and peer-to-peer.
Other banks have started to pilot blockchain protocols like Ripple and Ethereum to process international payments, which could be crucial in demonstrating the potential of cryptocurrency as an alternative to the global finance sector in the long-term.