SWIFT: Who are they and what are they for?

SWIFT actually stands for, “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication”, which is a member-owned cooperative that enables the global financial industry to conduct its business operations seamlessly across countries or nations.

To a layman, specifically an overseas worker, or someone dealing with business partners all over the world, SWIFT is all about facilitating money transfers between a local bank and an off-shore bank.

Through ISO 9362 (also known as SWIFT-BIC, BIC code, SWIFT ID or SWIFT code) more than 9,000 banking organisations, financial institutions and corporate customers in 209 countries exchange millions of standardized financial “messages”.

SWIFT is not a repository of money, nor is it considered a bank. What is does is give out codes which serve as the unique identification code of a particular bank (a.k.a. Bank Identifier Code or SWIFT Codes). These codes are then used when transferring money between banks, especially those based overseas, by way of wire transfers, and also for the message exchanges between these banks.

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