Eight foreign banks have signed up for the Russian version of the worldwide payments system Swift, launched to bypass US sanctions, according to the Central Bank of Russia.
The System for the Transfer of Financial Messages (SFPS) was launched in December 2017 as a response to fears that Russia could be cut off from Swift, the system that allows for bank-to-bank transfers around the world, according to The Moscow Times.
Speaking at a banking conference in Moscow, Alla Bakina, who leads the development and roll-out of the system for the Central Bank said, “We have provided the opportunity for foreign banks and legal entities to connect to SPFS. Today, the system has around 400 users, including eight foreign entities.”
Bakina added that usage of Swift was also growing, with daily traffic on the service around 15% of that recorded on Swift — up from 11% last year.
Three of the foreign banks are already using the system, and five are awaiting approval to join. Bakina said that the banks were registered in countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, according to RIA Novosti.
Iran, as a country under the US sanctions and cut off from Swift, has also set up its own payment system called the Special Trade and Finance Institute (STFI), in parallel to EU's trade mechanism INSTEX.
Iran’s European partners in the JCPOA unveiled INSTEX in late January with the aim of protecting their companies against US sanctions and enabling them to continue trade with Iran.
While the EU keeps delaying the launch of the trade mechanism, Iran has moved ahead with signing bilateral monetary pacts with neighboring countries, including Russia and Iraq, which allows conducting trade transactions via national currencies.