What is the SWIFT Payment Network?

Jelle van Schaick
2 mins

  • Knowledge hub

If you've ever used a money transfer service to send cash across the globe, you know how easy it is to send money to someone else’s bank account. But how does this happen? Banks and other financial institutions use SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to send and receive information on financial transactions in a secure and standardised environment. 

Intergiro is part of the network of 11,000 member institutions which sent over 41 million transactions per day via the SWIFT  in 2020 alone.

Who uses SWIFT?

SWIFT was originally designed to communicate about Treasury and Correspondent transactions. The founders created a very robust message format that allowed SWIFT to progress rapidly to provide services for the following:

  • Banks
  • Brokerage Institutes
  • Securities Dealers
  • Asset Management Companies
  • Depositories
  • Treasury Market Participants and Service Providers
  • Foreign Exchange and Money Brokers

How long does a SWIFT transfer take?

A SWIFT transfer may take 1- 4 days to process. The time can vary based on the destination and banks, but it also depends on how they handle the transaction. A SWIFT transfer is not instant. Your money may be routed to the recipient through an intermediary bank, and anti-fraud and anti-money laundering checks may be conducted.

How does the network operate?

SWIFT isn’t the same as other peer-to-peer currency transfer platforms. It's an information transport network that connects your money's origin to its destination via a series of banks.

The SWIFT banking system was originally created to allow banks to communicate securely and reliably with one another, particularly in relation to the rapid processing of international payments. It's called "SWIFT" because it's simply a go-between for financial institutions, a message-passer. And the word "communicate" is very important in this context, because SWIFT is a messenger which takes messages from one bank to another, carrying instructions for payments from the issuing bank to the receiving bank.

In a nutshell, the network doesn’t actually transfer your money, but it does create a payment order that is sent between bank accounts. Your bank account will have a SWIFT code. A SWIFT code is a unique series of numbers and letters that identify where your money is going.

What is a SWIFT code?

Banks' identification numbers (IBANs) vary in length and format. SWIFT created a set of international norms for IBAN and BIC. SWIFT owns and administers the BIC system and the network allows them to identify a bank in seconds and send a secure payment quickly.

Example of a Swift Code

An example of a SWIFT code underneath is the Dutch bank ABN AMRO in the city of Amsterdam. The code is ABNANL2AWSS.

What does SWIFT mean for you?

Sending money to a friend or family member? It can be an expensive endeavour. Sending SWIFT wire transfers is not a cheap option for small transfers, and fees can pile up quickly if your bank needs to go through other banks. Banks will let you choose how to pay for these additional services, but the costs can still add up. If your money needs to be converted to another currency, banks can also collect their own profit on the exchange rate they offer you.

Intergiro - an excellent choice for SWIFT payments  

SWIFT is widely recognised as a secure, reliable option for sending money between financial institutions.  As a result, it is more expensive than other options. Intergiro offers a wide range of local and international payment options to suit your business needs and offers competitive pricing for all types of payments and transfers.