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what is a swift ?

SWIFT - Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications 


SWIFT is a cooperative society under Belgian law and it is owned by its member financial institutions. SWIFT has offices around the world. SWIFT headquarters, designed by Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura are located in La Hulpe, Belgium, near Brussels.The current Chairman of SWIFT is Yawar Shah, who was born and raised in Pakistan, and the CEO is L├ízaro Campos, who is from Spain.


SWIFT - Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications
SWIFT operates a worldwide financial messaging network which exchanges messages between banks and other financial institutions.


SWIFT enables its users to exchange automated, standardised financial information securely and reliably, thereby lowering costs, reducing operational risk and eliminating operational inefficiencies. SWIFT also brings the financial community together to work collaboratively to shape market practice, define standards and debate issues of mutual interest.


SWIFT transports financial messages in a highly secure way, but does not hold accounts for its members and does not perform any form of clearing or settlement.

SWIFT does not facilitate funds transfer, rather, it sends payment orders, which must be settled via 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.

Bank identifier codes (BICs) are popularly known as "SWIFT codes".
SWIFT Code is a unique identification code for a particular bank and it is a standard format of Bank Identifier Codes (BIC).

SWIFT Codes are used for transferring money and messages between banks. 
SWIFT Code is 8 or 11 characters for a bank. If SWIFT Code is 8 character code then it points to the primary branch/office
  • First 4 characters represents bank code.
  • Next 2 characters represents ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code.
  • Next 2 characters represents location code. (letters and digits) (passive participant will have "1" in the second character)
  • Last 3 characters represents branch code. These characters are optional. ('XXX' for primary office)

There are a great many SWIFT codes which correspond to various types of message. A SWIFT code is normally made up of the letters 'MT', and then a three digit number. The 'MT' simply stands for 'message type', and the numbers correspond to a certain type of SWIFT message. For obvious reasons these numbers are standardized globally and do not change between countries.



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