What is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Finance

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a member-owned cooperative, which links together almost 10,000 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in more than 209 countries. It is the gateway for exchange of millions of standardized financial messages between its members each day, and because of their services, the business world carries out cross-border financial transactions with speed, certainty and confidence.

Establishment of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication

SWIFT has its headquarters in Belgium and it is recognized as a cooperative under the Belgium law. The National Bank of Belgium oversees the functions of SWIFT as the lead organization while other central banks also have a legitimate interest and responsibility for overseeing its functions. The launch of SWIFT took place in 1973 with only 239 banks from 15 countries taking part in this ambitious project.

The vision and mission of SWIFT

According to SWIFT website, one of its visions is to “Embed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the SWIFT corporate mindset and make it an intrinsic part of the company strategy”. At the same time, SWIFT also expects to play a role as “the CSR/sustainability facilitator within the financial industry”. An important component of the mission statement of SWIFT is “It is (the CSR) more than sponsorship – it is a collective and individual commitment to improving the cultural, social and physical environment in which we live and work”. Thus, it is apparent from the vision and the mission statements of the SWIFT that it takes CSR as its main driving force when discharging their services to its members.

The role played by SWIFT

According to the SWIFT website, the society has a two-fold role towards its members. First, the society provides its members with secure and reliable communication platforms, products, and services in order to connect and exchange financial information. At the same time, the society also acts by being a catalyst for bringing the financial community together to work collaboratively. As pointed out by SWIFT, the collaboration between these financial institutions should ‘provide for better market practices, define standards and consider solutions to issues of mutual interest’.

Making use of the services provides by SWIFT, its customers automate and standardize their financial transactions, which lower the costs, reduces operational risks and eliminates inefficiencies in carrying out such transactions by themselves. At the same time, the service facilitates business ventures into new revenue streams, and to seek out newer business opportunities as well.

Organizational structure

The SWIFT operates based on three major regions, which includes Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Each region is able to function with substantial autonomy in almost all aspects of SWIFT functioning, and therefore would be able to work closely with its regional customers while fully understanding their requirements.