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SWIFT logo displayed on a phone screen with Russian flag in the background.

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhot

A SWIFT explanation

You’re probably hearing and reading a lot about SWIFT these days. Those who want stronger sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine say that the US and Europe should exclude Russia from SWIFT. Others caution against taking a step that is considered a nuclear option (economically speaking!).

So, what is it? SWIFT is the acronym for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a global network for payments between banks. It’s sort of like a gigantic messaging system. Some 11,000 banks, in just about every country in the world, use SWIFT to facilitate money transfers across borders. The system processes roughly 42 million transactions a day.

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