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International Bank Transfers - Safe, Secure and Fast

Updated on March 3, 2015
There are several ways to quickly and easily transfer money internationally
There are several ways to quickly and easily transfer money internationally | Source


If you've ever transferred money internationally, you might wonder how the banks are able to transfer funds in such a quick, efficient and secure way.

International bank transfers are the easiest way for us to send money to our friends, loved ones and other organizations overseas. The international transfer system is designed to be quick, safe and secure for both the sender and receiver of the funds. In this article we look at how international money transfers work, how fast they are and how to make sure that your funds get to where they are needed. We'll explore:

  • The SWIFT Network
  • International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN)
  • Exchange Rates and How They Affect You
  • How you can transfer money
  • The speed of bank transfers
  • The safety of bank transfers

The SWIFT Network

Most banks and financial institutions use the SWIFT network. SWIFT stands for 'Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication'. The network is set up to allow banks and other organizations to move money around in a standard, safe and secure way.

Financial institutions in over 200 countries use the SWIFT system, which has around 10,000 members overall, including retail banks, commercial banks, investment banks, credit unions and more. The SWIFT system has a number of security measures, checks and guards in place to keep financial transactions safe.

Banks across the world are part of the IBAN network
Banks across the world are part of the IBAN network | Source

International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN)

One of the principles behind the SWIFT system is the use of the 'International Bank Account Number' or IBAN. This is a unique, alphanumeric code that is 34 characters long. It is generated according to an agreed standard and every bank account at every financial organization has a unique IBAN.

This means that if you know the IBAN of a person or organization, you can send them funds safely and securely.

Exchange Rates and How They Affect You

The value of funds transferred internationally varies according to currency exchange rates. These exchange rates fluctuate on a moment-to-moment basis.

Once you order a transfer of funds, the rates for your transfer are 'fixed' at that moment until the money is deposited in the bank account of the person receiving the money from you.

Be aware of how fluctuating exchange rates will affect the amount that you send or receive
Be aware of how fluctuating exchange rates will affect the amount that you send or receive | Source

How you can transfer money

There are many organizations that will transfer money on your behalf. Your bank should be able to assist you and there are also other businesses that specialize in transferring money.

These include Travelex, Forex, Western Union and more.

Money transfers are secure and fast the vast majority of the time
Money transfers are secure and fast the vast majority of the time | Source

The speed of bank transfers

Money is normally transferred or 'wired' between the sender and the recipient very quickly. Although the transferal of funds from one bank to another is generally extremely fast, sometimes it does take a little while for the funds to be processed and to show up in the recipient's account.

Because banks will only ever send money that is 'cleared' (i.e. there are funds available in the sender's account to finance the transaction), both sending and receiving banks know that the money is there to pay for the transfer. Due to this, any money that the receiving bank gets as a result of the transfer is normally made available to the recipient quickly.

Sometimes, it may take slightly longer when funds are being transferred internationally. If this is the case, speak to the provider of the transfer about how soon the recipient can expect to receive the money.

The safety of bank transfers

Bank transfers are normally safe and secure, as long as you follow a few basic principles:

  • You use a reputable financial institution or bank to send the money from.
  • You double-check all of the recipient's details such as name, account number, routing code, IBAN etc.
  • You are sending money directly to the bank account of the recipient.
  • The recipient also banks with a reputable bank.
  • You don't send money to an intermediary or third-person.
  • If you are doing the transaction online, you do it from your own PC or a PC that you trust.

How to complete a bank transfer

Do you use an international bank transfer service?

See results

In closing

In almost all cases, bank transfers are completed quickly, safely and securely, thanks to the SWIFT and IBAN systems.

If you have a question about transferring money, speak to your bank to find out how they can help you out and the guarantees that they provide.


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      3 years ago

      A very useful website for finding swift code or bank code for a particular bank or banks from around the world:


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