CLS completes first live trials

Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS), a global system designed to substantially reduce foreign exchange transaction risk by settling trades in real time, moved a step closer to implementation today with the completion of its first live trials.

Eleven pilot shareholder banks took part in the trial, which involved settling foreign exchange transactions in seven of the world’s major currencies – the US, Australian and Canadian dollars; the yen, the euro, sterling and the Swiss franc – within a real-time five-hour window.

Currently, payments in different currencies take place during the business hours of their respective countries, so a dealer who enters a trade may have to wait up to 18 hours for a counterparty to respond with payment.

The pilot banks included Bank of America, BNP Paribas and HSBC. CLS Bank, the New York-based organisation implementing the programme, said institutions involved in testing successfully handled payments and settlements to the new CLS timeline. Once live, banks using the CLS system will settle their FX transactions through CLS Bank in the given five-hour window.

CLS Bank was created to reduce systemic risk in FX following concerns that the failure of a major bank could have knock-on effects for the banking system.

“Entering shareholder trials to offer the settlement service is an achievement – we still have stages to pass in rolling out the full service with equally high criteria to pass,” said Joseph De Feo, chief executive of CLS Bank. “Now, we need to do everything in our power to help our shareholders get ready to deliver CLS settlement and ensure that our operations continue to meet the stringent standards for launching a commercial service”.

CLS Bank is still awaiting US regulatory approval and further testing before it can go live.

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