The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication ('SWIFT') runs a worldwide network by which messages concerning financial transactions are exchanged among banks and other financial institutions. As of December 2001 it linked over 7,000 financial institutions in 194 countries and estimates that it carries payment messages averaging more than six trillion US dollars per day.
SWIFT is a cooperative society under Belgian law, owned by its member financial institutions with offices around the world. SWIFT's headquarters are located in La Hulpe near Brussels.
It was founded in Brussels in 1973, supported by 239 banks in 15 countries. It started to establish a common language for financial transactions and a shared data processing system and worldwide communications network. Fundamental operating procedures, rules for liability etc., were established in 1975 and the first message was sent in 1977.
SWIFT has operations centers located in Culpeper, Virginia in the United States, and also the Netherlands.