What is SWIFT?

Being an NRI (Non Residential Indian), once in a while I sent money to India. Unlike before, nowadays it all happens online and is quite easy. Within the comforts of my home, I just need to login to my internet banking account, do some clicks and money will reach my bank account in India in a couple of days. My bank makes it possible through SWIFT!

SWIFT or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication is a worldwide network for financial messages through which its members (i.e. financial institutions such as banks) can exchange messages related to money transfer for their customers. The messages are sent securely and reliably to the target member financial institution of SWIFT.

By the way, SWIFT is just a messaging service and it doesn’t facilitate actual cash transfer between banks. For doing that, the banks that exchange authorization message for money transfer shall have an external banking relation between them and normally they settle the actual cash transfer in parallel.

But the point is, once the authorization for the release of funds are sent through SWIFT, the target bank can release the money to the end user’s account and the bank is assured of the money from the sending bank. Sometimes, the target bank will have a branch in the sending bank’s country or vice versa and they may settle it within the purview of a single country.

Thus, the end user will receive the money without needing to know the hassles of exchange rate conversion and various other formalities, which happen in parallel between the banks. Also, the user will receive money, irrespective of the time taken for all these.

Over 8,700 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in more than 209 countries use SWIFT for transferring financial messages, making it the most widely used network for international financial messaging. Each financial institution registered with SWIFT is identified by a bank identifier code popularly known as the ‘SWIFT Code’.

Through SWIFT, transfer of funds to various countries can be completely automated; where the core-banking solution of the bank can directly communicate with SWIFT to do the transfer. This makes the process of money transfer more efficient, secure and with lower cost. Thus, SWIFT makes the process of transferring funds across the globe a lot easier.

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