With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and resulting sanctions that have been levied on Russia and certain Russian entities, there has understandably been a renewed interest about “SWIFT”. This article provides a brief overview of the cooperative, and details 5 facts to get you up to speed on what you need to know. SWIFT is an acronym that stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. SWIFT is the global leader in providing secure financial messaging services through a secured network, and consisted of over 200 countries and 2,421 live members as of December 2021.  The organization was founded in 1973 and is headquartered in Belgium.

1. Over 10 billion FIN Messages Were Sent in 2021

FIN is SWIFT’s product that allows financial institutions to communicate via secure financial messages and with high reliability. It is used by over 11,000 financial institutions globally, and in 2021 there were 10,593,717,275 total FIN messages sent over the network. FIN offers financial institutions message validation, delivery monitoring and prioritization services, and message storage and retrieval.

2. SWIFT’s Network runs on 3 Data Centers

SWIFT’s messaging network is run out of three data centers located in North America and Europe. These operating centers were located in Virginia in the United States, in the Netherlands and in Switzerland.  The data center in Switzerland is the youngest of the three, having been opened in 2009.

3. Europe, Middle East and Africa are Largest Users of FIN

In the year ended 2021, of the 10.6 billion FIN messages sent over the network, Europe, Middle East and Africa represented 44% of this figure, while the Americas and the UK represented 42% and Asia-Pacific only represented 14%. In terms of growth, Europe, Middle East and Africa messages increased by 11.8% while the Americas and UK increased by 10.6% (slowest region) and Asia Pacific increased by 12.5%.

4. Payments and Securities Represent 95% of FIN Messages in 2021

Payments alone comprised 45% of total FIN messages in 2021, totaling 4.8 billion, while securities represented almost 50% with 5.3 billion messages. Treasury made up the majority of the remainder at 473 million. Trade and System comprised 0.3% and 0.2% of the total messages sent in 2021, and were not significant in comparison.

5. SWIFT’s main competitor is CIPS

The Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) was put into operation by the People’s Bank of China in 2015. The goal was to internationalize the use of the Yuan by allowing banks around the world to engage in cross border transactions denominated in the yuan directly. The CIPS is an alternative to the SWIFT. According to Reuters, the CIPS processed $12.7 trillion in 2021. Of all the potential competitors to SWIFT, CIPS is clearly the frontrunner.

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