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Opinion
Andy Mukherjee

China Can Bypass SWIFT by Putting Digital Money in Play

Banks must send messages to move funds. Sanctions against Russia underscore the need for Beijing to cut the cord to the U.S.-dominated system.

But could a ban boost China?

But could a ban boost China?

Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Cutting some Russian banks’ access to SWIFT — the messaging network at the heart of global movement of money — may be a highly effective punishment for President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But it will give other geopolitical rivals, especially China, the excuse to promote digital versions of their own central banks’ money in global trade and finance. That could weaken the dollar’s international clout.

The key pillars of U.S. economic hegemony are SWIFT, CHIPS, and the dollar. Weaponizing any one of them against the banking system of Russia, the 11th largest economy, will convince China that it needs an alternative to the trifecta to escape the ambit of American power.