SWIFT is another cross-border wire transfer network, which is accessible from pretty much anywhere. Currently, over 10,000 banking institutions in 210 states are connected to SWIFT. Its rules are practically identical to those of SEPA; however, SWIFT transactions are executed in pretty much any currency. Businesses located in Europe use SWIFT for their financial operations, but there are several key differences that make SEPA much more convenient for Euro payments.
Unlike SEPA, SWIFT is not free. Any bank is allowed to set and charge commissions, for both incoming and outgoing transactions. Not all financial institutions are connected to SWIFT without third parties, but instead use correspondent banks that act on their behalf, following mutual agreements. Thus, one simple transaction may sometimes be subject to fees from a couple of different institutions!
Another difference is transaction speed. While SEPA instant credit transfers only need ten seconds to be executed, some SWIFT transactions may take up to a few working days.
SWIFT supports any currency, and this is both an advantage and a drawback. Let’s say, the recipient and sender operate in two different currencies. In this case, the funds will be converted automatically using exchange rates that are not beneficial to the parties, along with institutional commissions.
SWIFT is a fundamental worldwide payment instrument that is, however, slowly giving up to SEPA transfers, as more and more businesses outside of Europe are opening Euro current accounts to operate within the system.
It is worth mentioning that since these two methods are different, SWIFT transfer cannot be received on a SEPA account, and vice versa.