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Overview of SWIFT

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Financial Message – SWIFT

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications is represented by the acronym Swift. Swift has been incorporated into everyday use by banks and other financial institutions. It is a global messaging system and used as a proprietary messaging system that can send and receive financial information regarding financial transactions.

A Short History of SWIFT

In 1973 Swift was set up in Brussels. They were located in 15 countries and had an initial membership of 239 banks. It is essentially a co-operative and was set up by the members, (the users), as a support for finance and international commerce. By 1977 swift had 518 members.

Also, in 1973 initial procedures and operating rules were established. Swift went on to send their first message in 1977. Telex technology which was globally used by financial institutions was replaced by swift technology. By the end of 1978 swift had sent over 10 million messages.

In 1987 the membership of swift voted to expand their user base. The vote included new users such as clearing institutions, central depositories, and broker dealers. Today over 40% of all swift traffic is securities related, and 69% of all traffic is Europe related.

Swift has continued to grow exponentially year on year and as of August 2020 were processing an average of 37.2 million fin messages (financial messages), an increase of 10.4% on the previous year. In 2018 figures showed that 31.3 fin messages being processed on a daily basis, an increase of 56% from 2013.

Swift is now a global operation and has offices all over the world. They are represented in all the G7 countries, (United Kingdom, United States, japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada. They all have offices in countries represented by BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, (Russia’s membership of G8, now G7, was suspended in March 2014 for the annexation of Crimea). They are also represented in Switzerland, UAE, Australia, Korea, Austria, Italy and Belgium.

Who are Members of SWIFT

Today the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, (Swift), enjoys a membership of over 11,000 members in 200 countries, a massive difference from when Swift opened in 1973 with only 239 members in 15 countries.

The membership while mainly confined to the financial community is quite diverse as it contains investment grade and non-investment grade banks and financial institutions, security trading houses, private banks, commodity, security and financial brokers.

The procedure for joining swift is simple if the company concerned is a blue chip or investment grade business. However, for private companies and non-investment grade institutions to become a member of swift they will have to undergo intense vetting and due diligence procedures.