Bye SWIFT? Switzerland to join new Interbank Payment system not controlled by USA


Bern will take part in any new payment system if it were created as an alternative to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), according to Swiss Ambassador to Moscow Yves Rossier.

Switzerland’s position on the issue of creating payment channels that are independent of the United States is unlikely to differ from the position of other countries, Rossier told RIA Novosti. He added his country may participate in setting up an alternative to SWIFT.

“If there are any new developments in the financial sector, we will closely monitor them, but this is clearly a matter for reflection in the EU, not in Switzerland… But if a new payment system appears, every country will take part in it, including us, of course, why not,” said the diplomat.

As a result of financial sanctions and restrictions, Moscow has already created a new payment system that would compete with SWIFT.

SWIFT is a financial network that provides high-value cross-border transfers for members across the world. It is based in Belgium, but its board includes executives from US banks with US federal law allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe.

It supports most interbank messages, connecting over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories.

The issue of setting up a system that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington has been widely discussed, particularly after the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Last week, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc was working to create special payment channels to do business with the Islamic Republic.

Tehran also said it has considered establishing mechanisms for the oil trade to bypass US sanctions. The White House is expected to ratchet up pressure on Tehran by blocking its oil exports in November, potentially halting some two million barrels a day, or 50 percent of Iran’s output.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He said any countries or companies that conduct transactions with Iran were liable to face secondary sanctions. The EU asked Washington to grant exemptions to European companies but Trump rejected the appeal, saying exemptions would be made only if they benefited US national security.