SWIFT, What is it and how does it work?

SWIFT, What is it and how does it work?

Photo by Maxwell Nelson on Unsplash

SWIFT is a bank-to-bank messaging system. It functions by channeling transactions through banks using defined codes. Since the 1970s, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has flourished. SWIFT is owned by the financial institutions that make up its membership. It now has a network of 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. The security transit that SWIFT provides to the information is the basis for choosing it. A set of codes is used to regulate and transition these security transits. Banks all throughout the world needed an uniform, international method of transferring funds from one country to another. The SWIFT network was the solution.

SWIFT is a safe network that enables more than 10,000 banking firms in 212 countries to transmit and receive transaction information. Banks and financial entities used a technology named TELEX to wire funds before the SWIFT network was founded. TELEX was slow, and the system lacked the security that was required in an era of rapid technological advancement.

How does SWIFT protocol function?

SWIFT, as a network, assigns each major bank an unique identification code. Let us provide an example to demonstrate SWIFT’s magic:

Let’s suppose you’re based in California and you’ve hired a freelance techie from Asia to assist you with one of your projects. You want to pay the freelancer as soon as possible when the deliverable is completed. This is where SWIFT enters the picture.With the freelancer’s unique SWIFT code, you stroll up to your nearest bank. This will be the code for the system with the help of your payee’s Asian bank. A communication is sent to the bank in Asia when you submit the code, and payment is issued immediately. It’s crucial to remember that SWIFT is only a communications system that has nothing to do with your money or investments.

SWIFT usually assigns an 8 or 11-character code to each individual bank account.

What is it about SWIFT that makes it so successful?

A numbers game for SWIFT has been the dominant figure in the payments arena. Although SWIFT is well-known, it is popular because of its simplicity. SWIFT is a great payment instruction system nowadays due to its ongoing improvement and user-friendliness. Various payment messaging systems, such as Fedwire, CHIPS, and Ripple, are currently available on the market.

SWIFT’S Targeted Users

For financial institutions, SWIFT is the preferred solution. Trading houses, asset management firms, stock exchanges, foreign exchanges, treasury markets, and depositories are one of the venues where SWIFT is used. The service is entirely scalable in all aspects due to how the system was designed back in the day.

Services SWIFT provide

Services offered by the SWIFT system include:


SWIFT expedites a number of applications such as Forex, real-time instruction matching is required. Aside from that, the messaging system provides banking services such as payment processing and secure transaction infrastructure.

Real-time Monitoring

Clients may now examine the dynamic and real-time monitoring of transaction messages thanks to SWIFT’s freshly implemented dashboards. Apart from that, SWIFT makes trade flow analysis and reporting easier. The reports can also be filtered by region, country, and other pertinent information.

KYC Services

SWIFT also merges security services such as KYC (Know Your Customer) compliance. This contributes to the protection of banks from crimes including money laundering and forged transactions.

Solutions for Messaging, Connectivity and Software

SWIFT is intended to provide a reliable and secure environment for the delivery of data over networks. It offers a variety of devices, including software and hubs, for transmitting and receiving error-free transactional communications.

SWIFT has been the benchmark for transaction messaging systems all around the world up until now. SWIFT is a safe and secure way to pay your contract workers across borders and across the world. SWIFT seems to be on the upswing, with the launch of one of the many new products. However, if you’re looking to send money within Europe, IBAN is a brilliant option.

How SWIFT is owned and controlled

SWIFT was developed collaboratively by European and American banks who did not want a single institution to construct its own system and gain monopoly. It is supervised by the National Bank of Belgium, in collaboration with several of the world’s most powerful central banks, including the Federal Reserve of the United States and the Bank of England.

SWIFT enables its members to conduct secure international transactions and does not take sides in disputes.

Iran, on the other hand, was barred from using SWIFT in 2012 as part of restrictions related to its nuclear programme. A number of Russian banks were recently kicked off of SWIFT.

How has Swift been affected by the Russia-Ukraine Conflict ?

The economy would be severely harmed if Russia’s SWIFT service was cut off. Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin predicted that without SWIFT, the country’s GDP would decline by 5%. When the US proposed knocking Russia off the platform in 2014 for its annexation of Crimea, then-President Medvedev compared it to a declaration of war.

If Russia relies on oil and gas exports for 40% of its revenue, the move will hurt it as well. Although Russia and China have developed alternative payment systems that Russia might use, the Atlantic Council points out that they are substantially smaller than SWIFT and would not be enough to compensate for a loss of access.

SWIFT’s exclusion of Russia has been equated by one senior executive to “opening Pandora’s box,” with the decision jeopardizing the EU’s ability to pay for Russian gas and oil imports.

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