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The World Before SWIFT

Prior to SWIFT, telex was the only available means of message confirmation for international funds transfer.

Telex was hampered by low speed, security concerns, and a free message format. In other words, Telex did not have a unified system of codes like SWIFT to name banks and describe transactions.

Telex senders had to describe every transaction in sentences that were then interpreted and executed by the receiver. This led to many human errors, as well as slower processing times.

To circumvent these problems, the SWIFT system was formed in 1973. Six major international banks formed a cooperative society to operate a global network that would transfer financial messages in a secure and timely manner.