SWIFT is gearing up to introduce a new platform within the next one to two years, aimed at integrating the growing array of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) into the current financial framework.

This endeavor, poised to become one of the most pivotal for the emerging CBDC ecosystem, given SWIFT's fundamental role in global banking, is expected to align closely with the launch of the first major CBDCs.

Presently, approximately 90% of the world's central banks are exploring digital iterations of their currencies. While eager to keep pace with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, many are contending with intricate technological challenges.

Nick Kerigan, SWIFT's head of innovation, highlighted the significance of their recent trial, a six-month endeavor involving a 38-member consortium comprising central banks, commercial banks, and settlement platforms. This trial represented one of the largest global collaborations on CBDCs and tokenized assets thus far.

The trial's primary focus was to ensure interoperability among different countries' CBDCs, even if constructed on varying underlying technologies or protocols, thereby mitigating risks of payment system fragmentation. Additionally, it demonstrated the potential for utilization in complex trade or foreign exchange transactions, potentially streamlining processes and reducing costs.

Kerigan underscored the trial's success in proving that banks could leverage existing infrastructure, outlining a clear timeline for SWIFT's future endeavors.

"We are looking at a roadmap to productize (launch as a product) in the next 12-24 months," Kerigan said in an interview. "It's moving out of experimental stage towards something that is becoming a reality.

While the timeline may be subject to adjustments contingent upon potential delays in major economy CBDC launches, being prepared for their rollout would be critical for SWIFT to uphold its dominant position in the bank-to-bank network.