What the hell is SWIFT ?


If I’m right and I remember well what was taking place in 2008 when I was printing my magazine “Le Manufactureur” in Spain, the first time I heard about SWIFT was when my editor asked to be paid through SWIFT because they were not sure of my financial solvency. My editor wanted to find a secure and reliable way to be paid, and eventually they contracted an insurance based on legal documents I gave them about my French association, and they didn’t ask for SWIFT anymore.

The second time I heard about SWIFT was during a lecture in Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 organized by a fellow association. A lecturer told us that Russia has been banned from SWIFT and that it contributes to its current economic recession.

Today I want to share a few word from an article of Gillian Tett, editorialist in the Financial times that sums up efficiently what SWIFT is. I know Gillian Tett from Inside Job movie, and also from her books (L’or des fous, translated into French by the editor Jardin des livres).

The article’s title is “The swift payment system is a weak link in global finance” and it was published on friday 20 may 2016.

The Swift group, officially called the Society of Worlwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication was set up in 1973, as  a non-profit co-operative in Brussels, owned by its 10,000 odd member banks. Until recently, its messaging network seemed so mind-numbingly dull that it rarely attracted attention. But while Swift has just 2,400 employees (and revenues of €650 millions) it punches way above its size in geopolitical terms : its messages are used to transmit around half of all high-value cross-border payments.

Leave a Reply