The Iranian newspaper Kayhan is reporting that the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), a group of nine central banks which includes India, Pakistan, and Iran, will launch a new cross-border financial messaging service in June which will act as an alternative to the SWIFT system.
The newspaper quoted Central Bank of Iran deputy governor Mohsen Karimi, as saying the new system will be capable of entirely replacing the SWIFT system, and may assist in the global push toward de-dollarization.
Karimi said last week that the new messaging system would be solely for use by ACU member-states, but that other nations, such as those placed under Western sanctions like Syria, could apply for membership to gain access to the system. Reportedly, Belarus and Mauritius have already made enquiries regarding joining.
Central Bank of Iran governor Mohammad Reza Farzin, speaking at the ACU summit in Tehran last week, noted that moving away from the use of the US dollar would protect the foreign exchange reserves of member states while still facilitating the settlement of bilateral trade obligations.
Recently, Iran’s economy minister revealed that the nation’s international trade has gone from using the dollar to settle 30% of its international trade obligations, to only settling 10% of its international obligations in dollars.
Russia first began the development of its own international payment system in 2014, after the US levied sanctions against the nation over its reunification with the Crimean peninsula. Last year, as the West began levying additional sanctions over its military operations in Ukraine, including blocking many Russian banks from the SWIFT system, the government began promoting its competing system as a viable alternative financial messaging system.
The Russian SPFS system is used to transfer secure financial messages between banks both inside and outside the nation. The Russian Central Bank has said the system now serves 469 participants, to include 115 foreign entities residing in 14 nations.