7 September 2023

The complete guide to SWIFT payments

Twenty-first-century business owners have a host of payment options to choose from, including Swift. In our latest blog, we dive deep into the world of Swift payments and how they can support businesses.
The complete guide to SWIFT payments

If this is the first time you’re hearing of Swift, don’t worry– we break down everything business owners need to know about the Swift network and payments, including:

  • How it was founded.
  • The pros and cons.
  • And most importantly, how it supports business. 

Background and overview

Swift also written as ‘SWIFT’, stands for the ‘Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. In short, it’s a messaging network between financial institutions, like banks. It enables financial institutions to quickly and securely communicate transaction information with one another. 

The Swift network was established in 1973 and facilitates trillions of dollars worth of cross-border payments today, overtaking the likes of Telex. Its HQ is in Belgium, but the organisation itself is overseen by the central banks of G10 countries – including the European Central Bank. 

SWIFT code: the basics

Now that we know how Swift was established and the impact it has today, let’s cover how it works in day-to-day business life.

Who uses Swift? 

Lots of financial institutions across the globe use Swift payments. Some of those include: 

  • Asset management companies 
  • Banks 
  • Brokerage institutes and trading houses 
  • FX brokerages 
  • Depositories 

What is a swift code? 

A swift code is what banks use to identify one another when communicating – so you’ll need this information when making a transfer. The code itself is made up of between 8-11 alphanumeric characters, broken down into part bank code, part country code, a location code and a branch code, as illustrated below: 


Locating your Swift code

Like most digital banking information, your Swift code can be found on your bank statements or online banking. If ever you need extra help finding it, there are also online Swift code finders.

Making a transfer

To make a business transfer using Swift, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • The recipient's bank details: bank name, address, country, and routing code. 
  • The recipient’s personal details: full name as it is legally written on their passport, their current address and account number. 
  • The Swift code of your recipient's bank account. 
  • Lastly, your government-issued ID. 

It’s also worth noting that when you’re ready to make your transfer, you’ll need to provide information on the purpose of the transaction (i.e., paying your overseas supplier or local salaries) as well as any other documents or information your bank may request. 

The Swift transfer process is the same process used for sending a wire transfer. Payments can be made in the following three steps: 

  1. Log into your online banking system and request an international wire transfer. 
  2. When prompted, provide the correct information for the country you’re sending to and the currency you’d like to send money in. 
  3. Send the money from your bank via the Swift option.

Simple. When making swift payments, always be sure to keep a record of the transaction and ensure you're fully aware of the fees and limits associated with making this type of international payment.

Fees and pricing

The costs associated with Swift transfers often vary. For example, foreign exchange fees on Swift transfers can cost anywhere between 3% and 5% of the total amount. Generally, to send or receive Swift payments, business owners can expect charges anywhere between €10 and €50.

For many enterprise-level businesses with regular overseas costs (like shipping, taxes or salaries) Swift transfer fees can eat away at profits and be a real inconvenience to margins. 

At 3S Money, we want businesses to thrive, whatever their size. We charge our clients €0 to receive Swift transfers and only €1 to send them with our International Business Account. That way, you can reinvest your profits back into your business - not transaction on fees!

Ready to start making payments in 190+ currencies? Check your eligibility for one of our International Business Accounts.

How can my business benefit from using SWIFT?

There are many benefits to businesses using the Swift payment system. For one, it allows companies to make smoother international transactions, including: 

  • Paying international salaries and taxes.  
  • Receiving cash for exports overseas.
  • Paying for imports and settling trades. 

All of which can have a great impact on running smoother international business operations and scaling globally.

If you’re ready to scale your business operations and streamline international business payment processes, check your eligibility for a 3S Money International Business Account today. 

Swift FAQs

Meet the authors

Sharyh Murray


Sharyh is the lead Content Writer at 3S Money with a strong background in crafting high-quality, compelling fintech and FX-related articles. With extensive expertise in the field, Sharyh's writing resonates with a variety of audiences and drives action among readers, whatever the financial topic.


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