Intraday liquidity around the world



Banks typically make large payments to each other through large-value payment systems (LVPS). Most LVPS settle payments on a gross basis, which means that banks must fund each payment one by one. While this helps to reduce any credit risk that arises if payments are accumulated and settled on a net basis, it is liquidity-intensive, because banks need to cover any mismatches between incoming and outgoing payments by drawing on their reserves or central bank credit lines. This gives rise to strategic behaviour in how banks manage their intraday liquidity. In this paper, we use a unique cross-country data set to assess intraday liquidity usage by banks around the world.


This paper is the first to assemble a data set of payments activity, intraday liquidity usage and institutional characteristics covering LVPS in nine major economies over a long period of time, including the 2007–09 financial crisis. The data let us analyse the effects of the institutional characteristics of an LVPS on intraday liquidity usage, including the effect of so-called liquidity-saving mechanisms (LSM) that many LVPS introduced in the last two decades. As such, this study is valuable for payment system policy makers and operators seeking to update or develop new LVPS and for payment system overseers and bank supervisors that assess intraday liquidity usage in LVPS. 


How banks manage their intraday liquidity depends on the availability and cost of intraday liquidity and LVPS design features. Banks coordinate and recycle their payments less when reserves are higher and the opportunity cost of holding reserves increases. Payment timing, coordination and the resulting level of liquidity efficiency also vary with incentives for early payment submission and specific LSM design features. Such features include the criteria and algorithms used to prioritise/deprioritise or offset payments in a payment system queue. Another key insight is that banks appear to condition their payment behaviour on specific design features, which may weaken some of the features' intended liquidity-saving effects.


We study intraday liquidity usage and its determinants using a unique cross-country data set on large-value payments. We document that the amount of intraday liquidity that financial institutions around the world use each day equals, on average, 15% of their total daily payment values or 2.8% of their countries' GDP. We then define and calculate system-level measures of liquidity efficiency and inequality in liquidity provision. We show that these measures vary systematically with the degree of payment coordination among payment system participants, the quantity and opportunity cost of central bank reserves and institutional characteristics, such as incentives for early payment submission and liquidity saving mechanism (LSM) design. Our results are consistent with the notion that payment system participants behave strategically and manage intraday liquidity actively. Participants also appear to condition their payment behaviour on specific LSM characteristics, which may weaken some of the LSMs' intended effects.

JEL Classification: C5, E42, E58, G21, N2

Keywords: large-value payment systems, liquidity, LSM, financial markets