Clearing House, Swift appoint top executives


Dive Brief:

  • Brussels-based global financial messaging network Swift named Stephen Grainger as its new chief executive for the Americas and the United Kingdom, according to a Tuesday press release.
  • Before joining Swift, Grainger was the executive vice president at Mastercard, overseeing the company’s international cross-border services, banking services, digital platforms and non-bank financial institutions.
  • In another leadership announcement this week, Swift is losing a top executive to The Clearing House, which appointed David Watson as its next president and CEO, effective Feb. 1, according to a Tuesday press release. Watson, who previously was Swift’s chief product officer, will replace Jim Aramanda, who plans to retire in early 2023, after a 15-year tenure, the release said.

Dive Insight:

The executive moves come amid a race to capture business in the expanding cross-border payments market, which is being egged on by the rise of real-time payments.

The Clearing House is owned by major U.S. banks. In its statement, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who is also chair of TCH’s supervisory board, pointed to Watson’s attributes.

“David brings extensive payments experience, in-depth expertise in the field, and a strong track record of innovation,” Moynihan said. “David will continue TCH’s important work of driving adoption of real-time payments capabilities and focusing on the safety, security, reliability, and efficiency of bank-owned payment systems which are critical to the financial system.”

He also commended Aramanda’s leadership of The Clearing House, which introduced new payment capabilities such as the real-time payments system, RTP Network, during his tenure. The RTP Network, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in November, is used by about 180 banks and credit unions, per a Nov. 17 press release.

At Swift, the press release noted that Grainger also brings prior experience from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup to his new role. As CEO, he will work to develop cross-border payments experience for users in the regions and to improve post-trade processing, per the release.

“Grainger will drive the region’s overarching direction and growth, focusing his efforts on further developing strategic customer relationships, supporting customers as they work to transform the cross-border payment experience for their end clients, and working with securities players to improve the efficiency of post-trade processing,” the Swift release said.

The new leadership appointments come as both The Clearing House and SWIFT join other financial networks in trying to streamline international payments and carve out their own market share. In October, Swift, The Clearing House and the EBA Clearing announced that they will soon embark on a pilot of their new cross-border instant payment system.

Last year, Swift imposed international sanctions against Russia due to its war with Ukraine. The U.S., Italy, Canada, Germany, France, the U.K., the European Union and Japan teamed up to sanction Russia because it invaded Ukraine. The move curtailed Russian bank access to Swift’s global financial messaging services.

As The Clearing House changes its leadership, the RTP Network faces upcoming competition from the Federal Reserve. The central bank will launch its real-time payments system, FedNow, by mid-year in a bid to attract more financial institutions to instant payments, especially those that have balked at using the RTP Network.

Given U.S. real-time payments volume lags behind other countries, including Brazil, China, Thailand, South Korea and India, The Clearing House and the Federal Reserve are eager to expand U.S. use of real-time payments capabilities.


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