Chris Skinner's blog

Shaping the future of finance

SWIFT may not exist in five years, according to MasterCard

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

The CEO of MasterCard, Michael Miebach, stated at a conference the other day that SWIFT might no longer exist in next five years.

Miebach was part of a panel on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) at the World Economic Forum (WEF) but, as Shashank Bhardwaj writes on Forbes, once the panel was over a Mastercard spokesperson downplayed Miebach’s statement in an email:

“Let us clarify the intent of the on-stage comment, as it’s not as simple as a yes or no answer. Michael was simply reinforcing what SWIFT has previously said – their operations continue to evolve. Its current form will not be the same in the future. They are adding more functionality and moving past just being a messaging system.”

Whoops. Did Miebach make a gaff or what? After all, in five years’ time MasterCard and Visa might not be around. The keyword is might. We don’t need SWIFT, MasterCard or Visa in the days today of cryptocurrencies and P2P payments. But that statement is naïve because you have to have critical mass and, in all three cases, these networks not only have critical mass but also density, volume, value, history, trust and network effects.

Therefore, they may appear to be easy targets for new payments firms, but they are not disappearing in the next few years. In fact, in the case of SWIFT, I’ve heard this statement for over 25 years, and they’re still here.

The real challenge is innovation. I got pushback from SWIFT after I blogged they weren’t innovating enough, but I wrote that with serious intent as I hadn’t seen enough innovation.

In particular, I’ve had a running debate with Nick Kerigan, Head of Innovation at SWIFT about this. He came out with a statement in April saying that CBDCs ‘could be a major force’ in the near future.*

I dissed him a bit for saying could all the time and not saying will. His response was that SWIFT is trialling the ability for banks to trade CBDCs across border using SWIFT, but it’s experimental at this stage. Of course it is. Everything CBDC is an experiment right now but, in five years, it will not be. It’s not a could, it’s a will.

Meantime, it’s easy to take a pop at Visa and MasterCard for not innovating enough, but then they’ve both been acquiring FinTech wings over the past few years. Visa has acquired firms like Tink, Earthport and Currency Cloud; MasterCard has acquired firms like VocaLink, Finicity, Nets and Aiia.

Purely acquiring functionality is not the game however. The game is creating an innovation refresh at the core. Equally MasterCard and Visa are different to SWIFT, as they are public companies rather than being a cooperative network.

Either way, the challenge is how to innovate and refresh to be digital at the core. How to create a payments business that looks as though it was born digital. The challenge is the same for all three and, if they fail, then all three might not exist in five years. That includes your business, Michael Miebach.


* Latest news on SWIFT’s CBDC experiment here


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

Fintech expert Chris Skinner: countries need digital transformation to remain competitive

Digital Transformation Programme

Learn directly from from one of the most influential people in technology, gain insights from the world's most innovative companies, and build a global network.

Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on FinTech 2022

Chris Skinner
Commentator, CEO of The Finanser and best-selling author at The Finanser

Thinkers360 Thought Leader

Contact Me

Best Financial Services Blogger

Chris’s latest book

Chris Skinner’s ‘Digital For Good’ Book Launch Event – CFTE

Global Awards

Chris Skinner - Financial Markets Advisor of the Year - The Finanser - UK 2023

Best CEO of the Year UK 2022

Best Digital Finance Provider of the Year UK 2022

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Corporate America Today Annual Awards

Best Financial Markets Adviser of the Year UK 2022

Portal to the Knowledge Base of the Financial Services Club UK 2022

Financial Markets Advisor of the Year UK 2022

Nominee of MAD33 2021

Kids creating the future bank | TEDxAthens

Join me on Linkedin

Follow Me on Twitter!

UK’s most influential person in technology

Captain Cake and the Candy Crew

Captain Cake Winner of a Golden Mom’s Choice Award


TheNextWeb – #tnw

Learn more about Chris

About Chris Skinner

Presentation at ZBP, September 2020, Warsaw, Poland

Alex at the Financial Services

Gaping Void's Hugh MacLeod worked with the Finanser

What is the future?

Learn more