Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication

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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 9,000+ financial institutions in 209 countries.[1] 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 are located in La Hulpe, Belgium, near Brussels. An average of 2.4 million messages, with aggregate value of $2 trillion, were processed by SWIFT per day in 1995.

It was founded in Brussels in 1973, supported by 239 banks in 15 countries. It started to establish common standards for financial transactions and a shared data processing system and worldwide communications network. Fundamental operating procedures, rules for liability etc., were established in 1975 and the first message was sent in 1977.


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