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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. SWIFT also markets software and
services to financial institutions, much of it for use on the SWIFT Net Network,
and ISO 9362 bank identifier codes (BICs) are popularly known as "SWIFT cod es".

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. [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, was 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.


SWIFT has become the industry standard for syntax in financial messages.
Messages formatted to SWIFT standards can be read by, and processed by, many
well known financial processing systems, whether or not the message actually
travelled over the SWIFT network. SWIFT cooperates with international
organizations for defining standards for message format and content. SWIFT is
also   
 (RA) for the following ISO standards:
  ISO 9362:1994 Banking²Banking telecommunication messages²Bank identifier
  ISO 10383:2003 Securities and related financial instruments ²Codes for
exchanges and market identification (MIC)
  ISO 13616:2003 IBAN Registry
  ISO 15022:1999 Securities²Scheme for messages (Data Field Dictionary)
(replaces ISO 7775)
  ISO 20022-1:2004 and ISO 20022-2:2007 Financial services²Universal
Financial Industry message scheme
In RFC 3615 urn: swift: was defined as Uniform Resource Names (URNs) for SWIFT

The SWIFT secure messaging network is run out of two redundant data centers, one
in the United States and one in the Netherlands. These centers share information in
near real-time. In case of a failure in one of the data centers, the other is able to
handle the traffic of the complete network. Currently, SWIFT is building a third data
center in Switzerland, which is scheduled to start operating in the second half of
2009. Once this is completed, data from European SWIFT members will no longer
be mirrored to the US data center. Also called å   
   will partition
messaging into two zones, the European messaging zon e and the Trans-Atlantic
messaging zone. European Zone messages will be stored in the Netherlands and in
a part of the Switzerland operating center, Trans-Atlantic Zone messages will be
stored in the US and in a part of the Switzerland operating center tha t is segregated
from the European Zone messages. Countries outside of Europe were by default
allocated to the Trans-Atlantic Zone but could choose to have their messages stored
in the European Zone.

There are four key areas that SWIFT services fall under within the Financial
marketplace, Securities, Treasury & Derivatives, Services and Payments & Cash


  SWIFTNet Trade
Services Utility
SWIFT also offer a secure person-to-person messaging service, SWIFT Net Mail,
which went live on 16 May 2007. SWIFT clients can configure their existing email
infrastructure to pass email messages through the highly secure and reliable
SWIFTNet network instead of the open Internet. SWIFTNet Mail is intended for the
secure transfer of sensitive business documents, such as invoices, contracts and
signatories, and is designed to replace exist ing telex and courier services, as well as
the transmission of security-sensitive data over the open Internet. Eight financial
institutions, including HSBC, FirstRand Bank, Clearstream, DnB
NOR, Nedbank, Standard Bank of South Africaand Bear Stearns, as well as SWIFT
piloted the service.