At a SWIFT conference in March, Cheryl Gurz, manager of the emerging technology segment for BNY Mellon Treasury Services, cited new technologies, including the blockchain technology used by the cryptocurrency bitcoin, as a possible threat to banks' dominance in cross-border payments. The blockchain is a distributed ledger, hosted on many servers simultaneously.

Companies that need to make payments across borders traditionally have done so via wire transfers that travel from bank to bank via the correspondent banking network.

Gurz and other speakers on the SWIFT panel noted that providers like Ripple Labs, which uses blockchain technology, and Earthport, which makes use of different countries' ACH networks, can handle cross-border payments in fewer steps than the correspondent banking system.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.