SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a global payments system that is used internationally to inter-connect banks and for the execution of financial transactions and payments between banks worldwide. It is registered as a cooperative society under Belgian law and is owned by the member financial institutions.

Due to the spying by foreign agencies of SWIFT transactions by CIA, NSA and Europol and its increasing use in economic sanctions by west (US and EU), some countries have begin developing alternate international financial systems to avoid and replace SWIFT for international transactions.

These include the Chinese Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS), the Indian Structured Financial Messaging System (SFMS), the Russian Sistema peredachi finansovykh soobscheniy (SPFS) etc.

In this context,

  1. Where sanctions have been imposed barring use of SWIFT, can European banks use any of these alternative systems to be able to do business with other countries despite U.S. sanctions?

  2. How do the U.S., and other western governments, perceive the rise of these non-western alternative financial system and have they formed any policies on how to deal with these non-western financial systems that may be used to bypass western sanctions?

  • What is the context of this question? What is SWIFT, what is the policy you are asking about, etc?
    – Brian Z
    Feb 25, 2023 at 3:54
  • 2
    What do you mean by "welcome the use" of alternative systems? Just that they allow non-SWIFT services, or that that they encourage them? You mention sanctions when talking about using other systems, but just from a quick Google search there seem to be plenty of services available in the US that offer cross-border transactions without SWIFT.
    – Giter
    Feb 25, 2023 at 4:45
  • 1
    @Giter: well, a slight subtlety here is, quoting from a recent gov't report "Cross-border payments typically settle through correspondent banking networks". And there's not many of the latter (I mean networks linking banks). OTOH "remittance providers with operations at both the origin and destination of a payment may settle transactions on their own books, in a closed-loop system". Feb 25, 2023 at 5:02
  • General remark: SWIFT is not American, the company sits in Belgium. So your idea of European banks looking for an alternative is moot.
    – quarague
    Feb 25, 2023 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


No, of course not. Obama, the former president of the USA was quite plain about this in a period where the USA was contemplating withdrawing from international institutions. If you are not involved, then you don't get to shape them.

The international system, including financial systems like SWIFT, and much more, were built by the West, and they made sure that the West remained in control.

For example, historically speaking, the head of the IMF has been European whilst the head of the World Bank has been an American. This is a Western stitch up. I do not call this democracy.

  • 3
    Please add references to your statements making claims about statements to make it credible.
    – whoisit
    Feb 25, 2023 at 5:16
  • @whoisit: It's a argued political analysis. Can you explain why I should feel it neccessary to back up tge claim that SWIFT is a western organisation, built up through western cooperation, and used as an instrument of soft power. I think this obvious. Can you explain why this is not the case? Mar 6, 2023 at 2:07

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