What is SWIFT?
Swift is an acronym for the “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications” and is a globally used financial messaging system utilised by banks and other financial institutions. Swift is a proprietary message platform that can send and receive financial information with regard to financial transactions.
SWIFT, a Potted History
Swift was founded in Brussels in 1973 and had an initial membership of 239 banks located in 15 countries, and was set up by and for its users as a support for international commerce and finance.
Initial rules and operating procedures were established in 1973 and the first swift message was sent in 1977. Swift went on to replace Telex technology which was used by all the major financial institutions.
Swift now has offices all over the world including the 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), the G7 countries, plus Switzerland, UAE, Australia, Korea, Austria, Italy and Belgium.
Membership 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 contains all investment grade banks and financial institutions, but also allows for non-investment grade banks and financial institutions, commodity and financial brokers, private banks and small companies such as currency trading houses.
Any company wishing to become a member of swift will have to undergo intense vetting and due diligence procedures. Obviously for investment grade institutions this process is not so intense, but for private companies and non-investment grade institutions, the process as advised will be emphatically carried out.