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What are the Differences Between Swift Message Types?

What is Swift? Swift is a synonym for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. It is a global membership platform for sending and receiving authenticated financial messages. It is totally secure and provides validation and verification on all messages. 

Swift was founded in 1973 by 239 banks from 15 countries. They were solving the problem of international cross border payments. The system went live in 1977 with 518 institutional members from 22 countries. Today there are over 11,000 members in in over 200 countries. 

Swift has evolved from 10 million messages in 1979 to 7.8 billion messages in 2018. That is an average of 31.13 message types per day. Messages range across the financial spectrum. From an MT103 being a cash payment to an MT799. A MT799 is a pre-advice for Bank Guarantees, Documentary Letters of Credit and Standby Letters of Credit.  

Message Types 

All swift messages are pre-fixed MT (message type) followed by three identification numbers. So for example when sending money there are three commonly used message types. MT101, MT102 and MT103. Each individual digit represents a recognition code. 

Swift MT101 – is designed for corporates. Allows multiple payments with bulk instructions 

Swift Mt102 – is designed for multiple payment instructions between financial institutions 

Swift MT103 – is designed as a single customer to customer funds transfer.   

So how for example is a Swift MT103 recognised by financial institutions? As advised above MT stand for Message Type. The figures 1, 0 and 3 all have their own meaning. 1 denotes the category as being customer payments or cheques. 0 denotes it is a transfer from a financial institution. 3 denotes the specific message contained therein. It is a notification. 

There are nine main Message Types, (MT), where the first digit represents the category.  

  • 1 denotes customer payments and cheques – message types 19 
  • 2 denotes financial institutional transfers – message types 18
  • 3 denotes treasury markets – message types 27
  • 4 denotes collection and cash letters – message types 17 
  • 5 denotes securities markets – message types 60 
  • 6 denotes treasury markets – metals and syndications – message types 22 
  • 7 denotes documentary credits and guarantees – message types 29 
  • 8 denotes traveller’s cheques – message types 11 
  • 9 denotes cash management and customer status – message types 21 

The number of Swift MT categories tend to remain the same. Swift are adding to the number of message types year on year. Swift continually update their service to their members. 

For those interested in all swift message types please type the following into your search engine. “List of all Swift Message Types”. You will be given the definitive list of all swift message types.