Definition of SWIFT
SWIFT is an international financial message system used by banks and financial institutions throughout the world, and stands for “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications”. The system provides a proprietary platform for the sending and receiving of financial information for financial transactions. An example can be found here.
In 1973 SWIFT was founded in Brussels and was originally supported by 239 member banks in fifteen countries. Fundamental operating rules and procedures were established in 1973 and the first SWIFT message was delivered in 1977.
SWIFT now has offices all over the world including all G7 countries, and 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), plus Switzerland, UAE, Australia, Korea, Austria, Italy and Belgium.
Membership of SWIFT
There are over 11,000 members in 200 countries who utilise this system, and it allows banks to send and receive secure financial messages to and from each other. Deep vetting and due diligence are carried out on companies seeking to gain membership to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
All investment grade banks and financial institutions are members, including a lot of non-investment grade banks, private banks, financial and commodity brokers and small companies engaged in financial activities such as foreign exchange trading.