Italian Banks Adopt Blockchain to Reconcile Interbank Transactions

55 banks are using a blockchain platform to share interbank transfer data and reconcile transactions, an initiative made possible by a rule change last May.

Up to 55 Italian banks now are using a blockchain platform known as Spunta to share interbank transfer data and reconcile transactions, according to Silvia Attanasio, head of innovation at the Italian Banking Association.

The initiative follows an update to Italian law governing interbank transfers in May 2019, which removed a requirement for banks to send each other physical tapes, reports CoinDesk. Under the old system, interbank reconciliation took between 30 and 50 days.

Once the interbank agreement was updated to include data standardisation, Italy set March to October 2020 as the timeframe for integration with the new standards, and a blockchain banks could use to follow the new rules.

The network, which runs on R3 Corda’s blockchain, was designed by NTT Data and is operated by bank technology provider SIA. It allows banks to reconcile interbank transactions within a day.

Following testing in January and February, integration is currently in phase two, with 55 banks using the platform to share interbank transfer data. In the third and final phase slated for October, the Italian Banking Association expects to have 70 to 100 banks on the platform.

“If we failed in this process, the worst thing that could happen was to have a problem in the information exchange between banks,” Attanasio said. “Clients are not affected, the companies are not affected. It was a natural sandbox.”

Experimenting with interbank data exchange also allows Italian banks to test other use cases for Spunta, including sharing of KYC information and credit guarantees.

The Spunta project case study is available here.