Settlement Risk in the Global FX Market: How Much Remains?

41 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2016 Last revised: 8 Nov 2016

See all articles by Dino Kos

Dino Kos

CLS Bank International

Richard M. Levich

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 26, 2016


Settlement risk is a critical concern in all financial markets and especially so in foreign exchange markets where it poses the threat of complete loss. In this paper, we offer a historical look at how risk mitigation in FX settlement has developed over time. We rely on two surveys conducted by the BIS in 1997 and 2007 and a new survey conducted by CLS Bank in April 2013. Based on our review of the evidence, we find that the market has achieved significant progress in both developing and implementing techniques that have dramatically reduced exposure to FX settlement risk. The share of FX turnover settled by means of traditional correspondent bank arrangements has declined from 85% to 32% to 13% across the three surveys. CLS Bank which offers payment-versus-payment (PVP) settlement and virtually eliminates settlement risk now settles roughly half of all FX turnover. However, because of enormous growth in FX turnover, particularly in emerging market currencies where access to risk mitigation alternatives is less prevalent, the absolute value of FX turnover exposed to settlement risk remains large. Surprisingly, one-quarter of FX turnover in currencies eligible for PVP settlement using CLS Bank still relies on bilateral settlement with some exposure to settlement risk. These findings support the need for banks, industry groups and central banks to remain vigilant and continue their efforts to incentivize PVP settlement positively, making it widely available and utilized, or finding alternative risk mitigating solutions. We offer various approaches to deal with the remaining settlement risk.

Keywords: Foreign exchange, settlement risk, Herstatt risk

JEL Classification: F31

Suggested Citation

Kos, Dino and Levich, Richard M., Settlement Risk in the Global FX Market: How Much Remains? (October 26, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Dino Kos

CLS Bank International ( email )

Financial Square
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Richard M. Levich (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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