New data on correspondent banking networks shows 20% reduction in relationships over seven years

Source: Bank for International Settlements

The number of correspondent banking relationships has shrunk by 20% over the past seven years, according to analysis of new data, published today by the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), the global standard setter for payment, clearing and settlement services.

The new data, which track the size and scope of the network of relationships, show a broad-based and global reduction in their number as their geographical focus narrows.

Correspondent bank networks underpin cross-border payments - vital for global trade and for migrants who send remittances home. Yet these payments are slower, more expensive and more opaque than domestic payments.

"Many families and small businesses rely on remittances to make ends meet but often face a choice between tolerating high costs or risking uncertain delivery of payments. The shrinking correspondent banking network is adding to these concerns. It may push people to use 'shadow' payment services such as cryptocurrencies that put the most disadvantaged at risk," said Benoît Cœuré, Chair of the CPMI, on the sidelines of the High-level Meeting on Financial Inclusion hosted by the Bank for International Settlements.

"Collectively, our efforts can enhance financial inclusion by making payments more efficient and by lowering their costs," he added.

To improve access to payments, it is necessary to understand their associated trends and drivers. This requires detailed analysis, which the CPMI is undertaking. The current analysis builds on the 2016 CPMI report on correspondent banking, and is based on payment message data from over 200 jurisdictions provided by SWIFT.

The CPMI and SWIFT plan to update the analysis annually for the next five years.
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