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Cross-border and domestic financial transactions require safe and secure means for financial world communications. There are four major proprietary financial information exchange platforms* / formats: SWIFT MT, Fedwire, CHIPS and ISO 20022.

SWIFT. Until recently, the Belgium-based SWIFT (“Society for Worldwide Inter bank Financial Telecommunications”, a member-owned cooperative) standard-format messaging system** was the most popular in the world. SWIFT allows its worldwide network participants to send and receive automated, confidential and secure coded messages for money wire transfers and other inter-bank activity. Thousands of active and passive (manual transaction) users employ SWIFT-registered Bank Identifier Codes (“BIC”) dedicated for each bank/ financial or non-financial institution/ corporation. The BIC alphanumeric address code consist of an institution / bank code (first 4 letters), country code (2 letters), location code (2 letters or digits), branch code (last 3 letters and digits). For instance, DEUTDEFFXXX stands for Deutsche Bank (DEUT), Germany (DE), Frankfurt (FF) head office, a branch code (XXX).***

SWIFT network does not store or manage customers’ funds, but provides automated formatted messages for payments, inquiries and instructions in foreign currency exchange, loans, deposits, confirmations, derivatives, securities’ buy/sell, status and confirmation of instrument trades. Individuals and banks usually use SWIFT for international money transfers and messages. Message Examples: SWIFT MT 103 (wire transfer/ Single Customer Credit Transfer); MT 199 (Free Format message); MT300 (Foreign Exchange Confirmation); MT 760 (Guarantee/ Standby LC); MT 799 (Authenticated Free Format Message); or MT 940 (Customer Statement Message).

CHIPS (owned and operated by The Clearing House Payments Company L.L.C., an American private company) provides the U.S.- dollar clearing and settlement services for domestic and international inter-bank wire payments. CHIPS ( payment message format inculcated in 2011 by the Federal Reserve Bank to support extended-character business remittances and allow banks to enter 8994 characters of remittance data in structured / unstructured formats. Sender-Banks decide whether payments to individuals and businesses should be carried out via Fedwire or CHIPS wire transfer systems.

ISO 20022 is the latest financial messaging protocol (an international standard) being developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for cross-border and domestic financial e-communications. The standard facilitates automatic conversion of messages per either XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language, a human-readable text) or ASN.1 (binary encodings resulting in compact messages, standardized syntaxes compatible with each other. XML could be used for data images and ASN.1 for data transmission. The XML or ASN.1 based syntax messages derived from new business models are fed into a ISO 20022 Financial Repository (, published in the Catalogue of messages.


( and registered/ recorded by the Registration Authority. The ISO 20022 provides a common message repository (being updated to cover new specific business processes/ models, end-user communities and messages), free Data Dictionary of business and message elements, Business Process Catalogue comprising message models and respective XML and/or ASN.1 based syntaxes. The standard is compatible with other wire transfer protocols.

ISO 20022 supersedes ISO 15022 securities messaging standards (used for securities trading/ corporate business transactions) and works jointly with SWIFT network for communications between global clients, custodians, data providers, asset managers, and financial institutions.

Fedwire. Fedwire Funds Service ("Fedwire") of The Federal Reserve Banks provides electronic payments and securities transfer for banks, businesses and government agencies. CHIPS of The Clearing House Payments Company L.L.C., Fedwire, ISO 20022 XML (based on the Universal Financial Industry Standard) and SWIFT messages interface/ translate to each other in bank transfers and customer transfers. Example: SWIFT MT 103 relates to Fedwire “CTR”, CHIPS “Non-Bank”, and ISO 20022 “FI to FI Customer Credit Transfer (PACS 008).”

All of said protocols and platforms are secure and reliable. Wire transfer senders select payment/ instruction / inquiry transmission systems upon consideration of many factors, e.g., a recipient bank and its branch location, time of transmission, transaction contract terms, and other factors.

*LVTS (“Large Value Transfer System”), a Canadian electronic wire transfer system for sending large sums of money (settling the payments) in Canadian dollars; KlickEx (, a New Zealand based Polynesian (Pacific Islands) electronic foreign exchange clearing for low value payments between New Zealand, Australia, Pacific Islands and Europe; and other domestic or low value wire transfer platforms are not subject of this article’s discussion. has an online directory of all SWIFT (BIC) Codes of a specific branch of a member bank or business / financial institution.

Major countries established their intra-country bank code or routing number for domestic transactions, e.g. ABA Routing Numbers in USA, Sort Codes in UK, SIX Interbank Clearing Codes (SIC) in Switzerland, or Bankleitzahl (BLZ) in Germany. Each American check usually contains a 9-digit bank routing number, 10-digit account number and a check number. The SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) member states (EU 28 countries plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino) must have both BIC code and recipient’s bank account number or IBAN (“International Bank Account Number” containing country and sanity check codes, Basic Bank Account Number, and account number) code for payments / transfers in euros.

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