CPMI quantitative review of correspondent banking data

Cross-border payments are vital for global trade and for migrants who send remittances home, yet they are generally slower, more expensive and more opaque than domestic payments. 

Most cross-border payments flow through the so-called "correspondent banking network" - a network that is reportedly shrinking and becoming more concentrated. 

What is correspondent banking?

In the context of cross-border payments, a "correspondent bank" provides local account and payment services for banks based abroad - collectively forming the correspondent banking network. Correspondent banks make their payments by sending SWIFT messages to one another that include instructions to debit or credit their accounts. Depending on which relationships are in place (ie where a bank has an account, and can therefore send a payment), several payments between different intermediary correspondent banks might be necessary for a single underlying transaction (a "payment chain").

The data set published by the CPMI is made up of monthly payment message data, covering more than 200 jurisdictions. From these payment messages, "active correspondents" (ie banks that have sent or received at least one message in the year) and "active corridors" (ie a single-direction jurisdiction pair (eg the UK to France would be one corridor and France to the UK would be another) that processed at least one payment message in the year) can be identified. Payment chains cannot currently be identified. In the charts and tables provided, information on different regions, jurisdictions, and currencies is included.

To help monitor this, the CPMI will publish, for five years, an annual quantitative review based on data that SWIFT has kindly agreed to provide. 

The review includes: (i) a commentary, highlighting key trends; (ii) a chartpack; and (iii) the underlying data.

End 2018 data