Founded in Brussels in 1973, the Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a co-operative organization dedicated to the promotion and development of standardized global interactivity for financial transactions. SWIFT's original mandate was to establish a global communications link for data processing and a common language for international financial transactions. The Society operates a messaging service for financial messages, such as letters of credit, payments, and securities transactions, between member banks worldwide. SWIFT's essential function is to deliver these messages quickly and securely -- both of which are prime considerations for financial matters. Member organizations create formatted messages that are then forwarded to SWIFT for delivery to the recipient member organization. SWIFT operates out of its Brussels headquarters and processes data at centers in Belgium and the United States.
SWIFT currently provides messaging and transaction processing services for over 7,000 financial organizations located in 194 countries worldwide.