Kiffmeister’s #Fintech Daily Digest (07/29/2021)*

IMF sees “critical role” as world transitions to digital money

International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff called for a ramping up of the institution’s resources devoted to monitoring, advising on, and helping to manage the “far-reaching and complex transition” to digital money. According to one of the background papers, “the Fund has a critical role to play to help its members harness the benefits and manage the risks of digital money [which] must be regulated, designed, and provided so countries maintain control over monetary policy, financial conditions, capital account openness, and foreign exchange regimes”.

IMF staff also called for close collaboration with other stakeholders like the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements along with its Innovation Hub, international working groups and standard-setting bodies, as well as national authorities. IMF Executive Directors were broadly supportive of the call for more resources, although many found the resource expansion strategy needed further prioritization and a more phased implementation, calibrated to actual developments and finer details on other work priorities.

IMF staff called for a total of 55 additional staff and experts (versus the current 15) to implement the called-for digital money strategy to be reached in about three years, with an approximately linear progression in hiring. They also looked to rotate staff from other organizations or central banks, with a mix of contractual and staff appointments providing flexibility to adapt resources as technology and policy challenges evolve. At the same time, the report recognizes that it will be challenging to find, recruit, attract, and absorb such new high-caliber and diverse talent into the organization. 

There’s also an interesting little nugget in one of the reports for us central bank digital currency (CBDC) watchers: “A February 2021 survey of IMF mission chiefs suggests central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are being closely analyzed, piloted, or likely to be issued in 111 member countries.”

New SWIFT Go service transforms low-value cross-border payments

SWIFT has launched SWIFT Go, a low-value cross-border payments service that allows businesses and consumers to make direct transfers from their bank accounts. The company is using tighter service level agreements between institutions and pre-validation of data to provide end customers with a fast and predictable payments experience with upfront visibility on processing times and costs. Go is built on the high-speed rails of the SWIFT global payments interface (gpi) that increases the speed, traceability, and transparency of global fund transfers. Seven global banks, which collectively handle 33 million low-value cross-border payments per year, are already live with the service. 

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