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Origins and development of SWIFT, 1973–2009

Scott, Susan V. ORCID: 0000-0002-8775-9364 and Zachariadis, Markos (2012) Origins and development of SWIFT, 1973–2009. Business History, 54 (3). pp. 462-482. ISSN 0007-6791

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00076791.2011.638502


Research in this article traces the origins of a not-for-profit financial institution called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). SWIFT is a core part of the financial services infrastructure and is widely regarded as the most secure trusted third party network in the world, serving 200 countries with over 8000 users. The analysis focuses on how the design and current state of SWIFT was influenced by its historical origins. In order to ensure widespread compatibility in a sector experiencing asynchronous technological development, legacy Telex specifications had to be accommodated in SWIFT's design. Over time, what began as a closed ‘society’ founded to reduce errors and increase efficiency in interbank payments grew into an industry cooperative supporting an enthusiastic community of practice and transformed into an unexpected network phenomenon. SWIFT achieved such success that it has been accused of being an installed base stifling innovation. In recent years, SWIFT has had to institute new categories of membership in an effort to counter concerns about its bank-dominated governance and it continues to search for ways to meet the requirements of key constituents in the financial supply chain.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: Management
Centre for Economic Performance
Centre for Analysis of Risk & Regulation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
T Technology > T Technology (General)
JEL classification: F - International Economics > F3 - International Finance > F33 - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
G - Financial Economics > G2 - Financial Institutions and Services > G21 - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O33 - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 08:28
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:29

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