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For decades, wire transfers have been the quickest, most reliable, most expensive and dumbest way to make payments. Using wires isn’t dumb. It’s the wires themselves that are, with their tiny data fields and inability to convey more than bare-bones information about payments. “We get high-value wires to settle multiple invoices,” reports Christy Barwick, a Microsoft senior manager in corporate finance, “but the information we need to auto-post or apply the cash is not there. Even when the payer sends it, it gets cut off by the short data field.

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