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All About SWIFT transfer

The financial sector is complex. It is governed by multiple systems and processes. The are various formalities that banks have to adhere to before processing a transaction and making a funds transfer payment.

Today, transferring money from person A to person B, from Point A to Point B has become extremely convenient. This revolution in the Banking sector actually began in the late 1990s itself, going hand in hand with the dot com boom. The emergence of platforms like PayPal changed the face of the entire industry.

Then came innumerable banking and financial products in the form of debit cards and credit cards, bank transfer and net banking. In the recent years, we have seen the emergence of digital wallets and UPI (Unified Payments Interface) through platforms like PayTM and Google Pay. With the onset of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, no one knows what the future holds for the banking sector in regard of funds transfer.

One of the most popular communication portals, which massively helps in facilitating funds transfer on an international scale, is called SWIFT. Let us learn more about it.

What is SWIFT?

SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). It is a vast messaging network used by banks and multiple other financial institutions and NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Companies).

It is used to send and receive money transfer information. It is a very secure and accurate source to disseminate information of any kind. Every day, nearly 10,000 SWIFT member institutions send approximately 24 million messages on the network.


SWIFT assigns a unique SWIFT ID to each organization. This makes SWIFT transactions so secure. This makes it virtually impossible for there to be a mix up of any sorts. This code might have either 8 or 11 characters. The code is interchangeably called the bank identifier code (BIC), SWIFT code, SWIFT ID, or ISO 9362 code. This is an alphanumeric code.

Let us see what this code is made up of. We’ll examine this with the help of a sample code. Let it be:


This is a SWIFT Code or Bank Identifier Code that consists of 11 characters. The pattern it follows is common and uniform throughout the world. Here:

The first 4 characters: refer to the bank code or the institution code. Since the bank in question is ICICI bank, therefore the first 4 characters become “ICIC”

The next 2 characters: refer to the country code. Since the country in question is India, therefore the 2 characters become IN. This would differ country to country. For example, the code for Italy would become IT.

The next 2 characters: refer to the location code or the city code from where the transfer is to take place. Since the city in question is Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, the city code becomes BB.

The last 3 characters refer to the individual branch code. Now, the last 3 characters are optional, but financial organizations like to use it for clarity. These codes differ bank wise. Here, since the Andheri Branch of ICICI Bank has the code 011, the same shall be used at the end of the SWIFT code.

This is how the SWIFT Code is computed throughout the world, and this is what ensures that each communication is seamless and transactions are successful.

Users of SWIFT

In the beginning, SWIFT founders designed the network to facilitate communication about Treasury and correspondent transactions only. The robustness of the message format design allowed huge scalability through which SWIFT gradually expanded to provide services to the following:

  • Banks
  • Brokerage Institutes and Trading Houses
  • Securities Dealers
  • Asset Management Companies
  • Clearing Houses
  • Depositories
  • Exchanges
  • Corporate Business Houses
  • Treasury Market Participants and Service Providers
  • Foreign Exchange and Money Brokers

Hence, with the help of this article we can see the importance of SWIFT in the modern banking sector. If they continue their operations with the same efficiency, and constantly aim to innovate- SWIFT will be on the path to only be more popular and more important.

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