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SWIFT confirms neutral status in Russia, plans to continue staying outside of politics

April 18, 18:20 UTC+3

The possibility of Russia's disconnection from SWIFT has been discussed since 2014

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© REUTERS/Chris Helgren

MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. The global financial messaging service provider SWIFT plans to continue staying outside of politics, the company said Wednesday referring to Chief Executive Officer Gottfried Leibbrandt.

"Neutrality is integral to SWIFT, it’s one of our core principles. As a unique utility to the global economy, we believe in serving the global financial community in its entirety. Having as many customers on our network as possible is beneficial to everyone, and in the interests of all global economic flows," CEO was quoted as saying at the annual general meeting in Moscow.

Amid a sharp deterioration of relations between Russia and the west, disconnection from SWIFT is one of potential scenarios being discussed now. Earlier this week CEO of Russia’s top lender Sberbank Herman Gref said he doubts that Russia will be disconnected from SWIFT.

SWIFT is an international interbank system for transferring data and making payments. More than 11,000 financial institutions are connected to it in over 200 countries around the globe.

The possibility of Russia's disconnection from SWIFT has been discussed since 2014, when the first anti-Russian sanctions were introduced over the Ukrainian crisis. Then the European Parliament adopted a resolution, in which it among other measures called for exclusion of Russia from the system. However, the management of SWIFT found that such recommendations violated rights and did damage to the company.

Russian alternative to SWIFT

Russia’s Central Bank is considering the possibility of using the Masterchain’s ethereum blockchain technology (developed by the FinTech Association together with the regulator and Russian banks) to create a single payment space across the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

The system of financial message transmission based on blockchain will be meant for transmitting SWIFT financial communication. At the first stage, the platform will operate inside the country, though later the regulator plans to use it as a base for cross-system cooperation between EAEU member-states.

In early April, the Central Bank’s First Deputy Chairman Olga Skorobogatova said that the regulator plans to discuss options for Masterchain’s use by financial institutions of the EAEU member-states.

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