The Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) is a payment system which, offers clearing and settlement services for its participants’ in cross-border RMB payments and trade. It is a significant financial market infrastructure in China. As planned, CIPS will be developed in two phases. On 8 October 2015, CIPS (Phase I) went live. The first batch of direct participants includes 19 Chinese and foreign banks which were set up in mainland China and 176 indirect participants which cover 6 continents and 47 countries and regions. On 25 March 2016, CIPS signed an MoU with SWIFT with mutual understanding of deploying SWIFT as a secure, efficient and reliable communication channel for CIPS’s connection with SWIFT’s members, which would provide a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardised and reliable environment. CIPS is sometimes referred to as the China Interbank Payment System.
CIPS would not facilitate funds transfer; rather, it sends payment orders, which must be settled by correspondent accounts that the institutions have with each other. Each financial institution, to exchange banking transactions, must have a banking relationship by either being a bank or affiliating itself with one (or more) so as to enjoy those particular business features.
However, it was reported in July 2015 that CIPS would be '"watered down" and used only for cross-border yuan trade deals rather than including capital-related transactions, which would delay billions of dollars worth of transactions, including securities purchases and foreign direct investment, that would have gone through the system. It was reported to be a second setback to the plan to provide a unified network for settling deals in yuan after technical problems delayed its launch, and that other measures to open up China's financial infrastructure have been dented by the 2015 Chinese stock market crash. It was said to now offer, at best, a complementary network for settling trade-related deals in the Chinese currency to a current patchwork of Chinese clearing banks around the world.