The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”) operates a worldwide financial messaging network which exchanges messages between banks and other financial institutions. SWIFT also markets software and services to financial institutions, much of it for use on the SWIFTNet Network, and ISO 9362 bank identifier codes (BICs) are popularly known as “SWIFT codes”.
The majority of international interbank messages use the SWIFT network. As of September 2010, SWIFT linked more than 9,000 financial institutions in 209 countries and territories, who were exchanging an average of over 15 million messages per day (compared to an average of 2.4 million daily messages in 1995). 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.
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.
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)