An analogue of the SWIFT international payment system, the Bank of Russia Financial Message Transmission System (SPFS), is not ready for real use in case new sanctions are adopted. This was reported by Kommersant with reference to experts from the Institute of International Finance (IIF).
The main problem of replacing SWIFT with SPFS is the limited opportunities for organizing cross-border transactions. At the same time, even with the Chinese SNAPS system, SPFS will not provide the necessary international coverage.
At the moment, about 400 financial institutions are registered with the SFPS. In 2020, the share of payments through the Russian system in the country increased to 23 percent; for non-cash payments, this figure was already more than 70 percent at that time. According to the IIF, the analogue of Russia is able to withstand all domestic traffic, so the shutdown of SWIFT in the country will not cause a quick financial collapse.
But everything related to international operations raises concerns. At the moment, not even all foreign banks operating in Russia have joined the SFPS. At the same time, the IIF pointed out that the Chinese system has been developed since 2015, but at the moment it closes only 0.3 percent of global traffic, despite the size of the economy.
The main risk due to the replacement of SWIFT by SPFS will also arise in trade with the European Union, which accounts for more than 35 percent of Russia’s trade turnover, which is equivalent to more than 250 billion dollars. Among other things, difficulties will arise with the supply of hydrocarbons, the export of which from Russia reaches 100 billion dollars.
Experts estimate the probable expansion of SPFS cautiously. They emphasize that this process requires long-term testing and is not necessarily successful.
Earlier, in mid-January, it was reported that the US presidential administration commented on the possibility of Russia disconnecting from the SWIFT international payment system – the White House suggested that this could really happen.