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I sent a payment to the incorrect SWIFT but right account number. The money hasn't been received at the other end. What will happen now?

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The bank number is part of the IBAN number, so the SWIFT code is actually redundant. It is still required for international payments because every country has its own payment infrastructure. The SWIFT code helps to route it to the correct region without having to know every single bank in that region. It is usually not needed for national payments, but banks ask for it anyway so that both national and international payments follow the same process.

When you enter a wrong SWIFT, then this is what will happen:

  1. Your bank will subtract the money from your account balance.
  2. Your bank tries to send it to the bank with that SWIFT code.
  3. When the SWIFT code does not exist at all, your bank will reverse the payment and put the money back into your account.
  4. When the SWIFT code does exist, then:

    1. The receiving bank will receive the payment message
    2. They notice that they don't manage that account number (the bank part of the IBAN will not match them or any of their subsidiaries).
    3. They will reply to your bank that they are unable to process the payment
    4. Your bank will put the money back into your account.

In the internet age, it should be possible for all of this to happen within seconds, but it will still take a few days because... reasons.

IBAN numbers are globally unique, so when you entered the correct IBAN there is no chance that the money will arrive on a different account than you intended to (Also, the first two digits after the country code are a checksum, so when you accidently make a typo while entering an IBAN, there is a 99% chance that this will be detected automatically).

  • Interesting but it got me wondering: Is the BIC somehow required behind the scenes? I know that my bank is happy doing bank transfers based solely on the IBAN (I don't need to enter the BIC in the online banking front-end). But it's possible a BIC is added automatically at some point in the process. – Relaxed Nov 13 '17 at 17:24
  • @Relaxed That's an interesting question. You might want to ask it separately. – Philipp Nov 13 '17 at 18:42
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If the payment is sent to incorrect swift code, the receiving bank will return the payment.

  • Many thanks. If on the chance it does, what are the consequences? – Rebecca Todd Aug 11 '17 at 15:02
  • @Rebecca Todd usually the receiving bank will be able to sort it out. Especially the odds that ALL the info sent including recipient name and address will match is practically zero so chances are the transaction will be sent back. There may be some manual proccessing involved so you should call your bank asap to get them working on it. – serakfalcon Nov 13 '17 at 11:42
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    @MichaelKjörling It cannot possibly match an account if the SWIFT code is wrong as the IBAN also identifies the bank unambiguously. On the other hand, the payment could conceivably go through by ignoring the SWIFT/BIC, which is not required between countries using IBANs (including the SEPA). But which receiving bank are we talking about? How are these things routed when the SWIFT and IBAN point to different banks? – Relaxed Nov 13 '17 at 12:30
  • @aCVn How should that be possible? IBANs are unique worldwide, they are just not (easily) routable. – glglgl Feb 19 at 16:37

protected by Chris W. Rea Feb 20 at 22:20

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