• S.W.I.F.T (SWIFT) is the acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial
• Its headquarters are in La Hulpe near Brussels, Belgium.
• It runs a worldwide network by which messages concerning financial transactions are
exchanged between banks and other financial institutions globally.
• It was established as a cooperative society in 1973 under Belgian Law by 239 banks in
• It was started to establish a common language for financial transactions and a shared
data processing system through a worldwide network communications network.
• Its fundamental operating procedure and rules were laid down in 1975 and the first
message was sent in 1977.
• It operates as a nonprofit making society.
• It has members in excess of 7000 in over 200 countries worldwide and handles over 7
million messages every day.
• Apart from a hub in Brussels, SWIFT has hubs in New York and in the Netherlands.
• The society functions round the clock for operational services of its members globally
• India joined the society in 1991.
• Initially only 41 banks in India participated. Presently because of its efficiency and the
fact that nearly all banks worldwide are members, most banks in India are also members
of SWIFT. In India bank locations are connected to the SWIFT regional processor in
Membership of SWIFT
• Any bank / financial institution can become a member of the society by paying the
relevant fees, subject to the terms and conditions and the approval of the society.
• On becoming a member, the new member is allotted an address called Bank
Identification Code (BIC) of 8 characters.
• This address is circulated by the society to its members and only then can the new
member can participate in the SWIFT system.
• The society updates the BIC Directory at regular intervals.
How does SWIFT operate?
• SWIFT enables banks and institutions (its members) to send secure and reliable
messages, since the entire transmission of messages is system based, with uniformity in