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Western Hemisphere Payments and Securities Settlement Forum
Foro de Liquidación de Pagos y Valores del Hemisferio Occidental

Description of the Western Hemisphere Payments and
Securities Clearance and Settlement Initiative


Following a request from the Western Hemisphere Finance Ministers, the World Bank launched in January 1999 the Western Hemisphere Payments and Securities Clearance and Settlement Initiative. The World Bank in partnership with the Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos (CEMLA) leads this Initiative. Its objective is to describe and assess the payments systems of the Western Hemisphere with a view to identifying possible improvement measures in their safety, efficiency and integrity. To carry out this mandate an International Advisory Council (IAC) was established in March 1999 comprised of experts in the field from several institutions. In addition to representatives from the WB and CEMLA this Council includes members from the: Bank for International Settlements, Bank of Italy, Bank of Portugal, Bank of Spain, Council of Securities Regulators of the Americas (COSRA), European Central Bank, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Inter-American Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Organization of Securities Regulators (IOSCO), Securities Commission of Spain and U.S. Securities Commission (SEC).

To assure quality and effectiveness, the Initiative includes two important components. First, all studies are conducted with the active participation of country officials and the project builds on the existing work being undertaken in the respective countries. Second, the Initiative draws on international and national expertise on the subject, through the IAC, to provide guidance, advice and alternatives to current practices.

The Initiative has undertaken a number of activities in order to respond to the Western Hemisphere Finance Ministers' request. These include: the preparation of public reports containing a systematic in-depth description of each country's payments clearance and settlement systems; the delivery of recommendations reports to country authorities on a confidential basis; the organization of IAC meetings to review country studies and provide input for future work; the organization of workshops focusing on issues of particular interest; the creation of a web-page to present the outputs of the Initiative and other information of interest in the payments systems area; and the promotion of working groups to ensure a continuation of the project activity.

CEMLA has been acting as Technical Secretariat of the Initiative and is playing a major role in making the process sustainable and capable of extension to all the countries in the Hemisphere. To this end, the Initiative has helped strengthen CEMLA's in-house expertise. Additionally, practitioners in payments and securities clearance and settlement in some countries in the Region have participated in the studies under the Initiative, through CEMLA coordination, and this has contributed to the broadening of knowledge and the transfer of know-how within the Region. The endeavors of the working groups in coordination with CEMLA will maintain the infrastructure created under the Initiative and provide a permanent Forum for the countries in the Region to discuss, coordinate, and add a collective impetus to the work in the area of payments and securities clearance and settlement systems.

From the Western Hemisphere Initiative to
the Western Hemisphere Forum

The Western Hemisphere Payments and Securities Clearance and Settlement Initiative (WHI) through the several activities performed since 1999 has become a regional forum to discuss relevant issues in the field of payments and securities clearance and settlement.

One of the initial objectives of the WHI was the creation of capacity within the region to give continuity to the efforts. A major portion of this objective has been achieved with the creation of the Working Group on Payment System Issues of Latin America and the Caribbean (WGPS-LAC), constituted by the region’s central banks, and the Working Party on Securities Clearance and Settlement Issues, constituted within the Council of Securities Regulators of the Americas (COSRA).

The Working Groups are thus becoming the pillars to give continuity to the discussions on progress and experiences in implementing the relevant international standards, to perform an educational effort to help raise the general level of awareness of standards and major topics and issues, and to promote seminars and cross-country studies, among others.

In this context, in occasion of the WHI’s 2003 Annual Payments’ Week, the Western Hemisphere Payments and Securities Settlement Forum was formally launched (“the Forum”). The Forum constitutes the set of new organizational arrangements to give continuity to the ongoing efforts of the WHI.

In the new structure, the role of the World Bank evolves to a supporting one, and leadership in the new Forum’s Managing Team is transmitted to CEMLA, the Working Groups and the Authorities of the Region’s Countries (central banks and securities commissions).


  • Paper on the Western Hemisphere Payments and Securities Clearance and Settlement Initiative

  • WHI Status Report – May 2003
    Presented to the Central Bank Governors in Seville, Spain, May 2003.

  • Strategy Guidelines for Future WHI Activities – June 2003

  • The new organizacional structure of the Forum is in the section on the WHI, under "Organization's Structure"


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