Abu Dhabi and London, March 30, 2021 – Buna, the cross-border and multi-currency payment system owned by the Arab Monetary Fund, has announced that it has plans to launch instant payments, in addition to trade finance solutions, securities settlement and ATM/ POS processing service, at a later stage. This growing list of innovative solutions will complement Buna’s current offering of multi-currency cross-border interbank payments, commercial payments, and consumer remittances.
Mehdi Manaa, Chief Executive Officer of Buna, made the announcement recently during his exclusive March session at Sibos, the leading annual financial services event organised by SWIFT. During the session “Transforming a regional payment landscape”, Manaa shared his thoughts on the positive impact of the cross-border payments system on participating banks in the Arab region and beyond and presented the added value that Buna is bringing to the payments industry by improving the speed, cost-effectiveness and transparency of cross-border payments flows in regional and key international currencies.
Buna has already onboarded four currencies since its launch 12 months ago by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF). These are the Emirati Dirham, the Egyptian Pound, the Saudi Riyal and the US Dollar. The system first live payment was executed in UAE Dirhams last December. Manaa revealed imminent plans to onboard the Euro and the Jordanian Dinar. So far, approximately 90 banks from the Arab region are being onboarded out of more than 130 that are in various stages of preparation.
Buna was launched and created as a regional payments market infrastructure that aims to deliver advanced, secured, and highly efficient payment solutions, and can cater to the growing needs of financial institutions and their diversified client base in the region and beyond, without any geographical or technical barriers. In doing this, Buna is working closely with SWIFT, which can provide not only the reach that Buna needs, but also the highest security and availability. As Buna grows and continues to evolve its services, it will continue to work with SWIFT to enhance the value proposition of Buna’s payments system by enabling instant payments capabilities.
A key aim of the initiative, strongly supported by the region’s central banks, is to advance the growth and integration of Arab economies. To this end, Buna is transforming the payment scene, by serving as a single-entry point to the region’s financial systems for global financial institutions, as well as a multi-currency and multi-instrument system for local ones.
“We can’t think about a well-functioning economy without the support of appropriate payment solutions,” Manaa explained at his SIBOS session. “It’s a virtuous circle. Buna is supporting the economic growth of the region, and the economic growth of the region will support Buna.”
Manaa said Buna strongly advocates public-private sector collaboration, supports the ISO 15022 and 20022 message standards, and enjoys interoperability with existing systems, currencies, and instruments.
“This is a transformation, for the benefit of the economies of the region, empowering them to increase integration. Business models that would benefit from integration will see a lot of value in the system,” said Manaa.
He highlighted the advantages of Buna which extend to banks outside the region. “Offering a single access point to a broad region through a single market infrastructure, with efficiency, speed and low costs, is a huge change. For any trading partner, it makes cross-border payments and access to the region as simple as for a single country,” he concluded.
Buna is the cross-border payment system owned by the Arab Monetary Fund and aiming at enabling financial institutions and central banks, in the Arab region and beyond, to send and receive payments, in local currencies as well as key international currencies, in a safe, cost-effective, risk-controlled and transparent environment. Buna offers participants modern payment solutions that comply with the highest international standards of information security and requirements against financial crime. With its cross-border payment solution, Buna increases opportunities for economic and financial integration in the Arab region and strengthens investment ties with the global trading partners. Buna welcomes the inclusion of all banks that meet the eligibility criteria and conditions for participation.
SWIFT is a global member owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. We provide our community with a platform for messaging and standards for communicating, and we offer products and services to facilitate access and integration, identification, analysis and regulatory compliance.
Our messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories. While SWIFT does not hold funds or manage accounts on behalf of customers, we enable our global community of users to communicate securely, exchanging standardised financial messages in a reliable way, thereby supporting global and local financial flows, as well as trade and commerce all around the world.
As their trusted provider, we relentlessly pursue operational excellence; we support our community in addressing cyber threats; and we continually seek ways to lower costs, reduce risks and eliminate operational inefficiencies. Our products and services support our community’s access and integration, business intelligence, reference data and financial crime compliance needs. SWIFT also brings the financial community together – at global, regional and local levels – to shape market practice, define standards and debate issues of mutual interest or concern.
Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT’s international governance and oversight reinforces the neutral, global character of its cooperative structure. SWIFT’s global office network ensures an active presence in all the major financial centres.
Sibos is the global financial services networking event organised by SWIFT. The preeminent annual conference and exhibition connects more than 11,000 executives, decision makers and thought-leaders from financial institutions, market infrastructures, multinational corporations and technology partners. Sibos facilitates debate, networking and business collaboration that collectively shapes the future of payments, securities, cash management and trade.
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