Banking Definitions

Product version 3.96
Last edited February 2023


SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a network that allows banks to communicate financial information securely. Most banks and building societies offer SWIFT payments for international fund transfers. SWIFT payments involve a series of banks that work together to ensure your funds are in the right place. You can think of it like making a journey yourself - if there isn't a direct flight to your destination, you might take a series of connecting flights to get there. In the same way, your SWIFT payment can end up being moved between one and three correspondent (or intermediary) banks before reaching your recipient. SWIFT payments are the most common choice for high-street banks making international payments, but they're not necessarily the cheapest or fastest option.


SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is a payment-integration initiative of the European Union to simplify bank transfers denominated in euros. As of 2018, SEPA consists of the 28 member states of the European Union and the four-member states of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) in addition to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.


CHIPS (Clearing House Interbank Payments System) acts as a USD netting engine, where payments between parties are netted against each other instead of the full dollar value of both trades being sent. Banks send and receive payments from 9 am to 5 pm (EST). During that time, CHIPS nets and releases payments. From 5 pm until $5.15$ pm (EST) the CHIPS system eliminates credit limits and releases and nets unresolved payments. By $5.15$ pm, CHIPS releases all remaining payments and sends payment orders to banks via Fedwire.


CHAPS (The Clearing House Automated Payment System) is a UK Sterling same-day payment system used to settle high-value, time-critical, lower-value payments. There is no minimum or maximum payment limit for this transaction type.

Faster Payments

Faster Payments transfers are available for bank-to-bank transfers within the UK and are typically one of the quickest ways to move funds between bank accounts. In most cases, a Faster Payments transfer is processed in seconds. There is a $£ 250,000$ maximum payment limit for this transaction type.


The BACS (Bankers' Automated Clearing Service) payment system has existed for 50 years. It facilitates bank transfers between UK bank accounts that take three business days to arrive. BACS payments are not instant or same-day payments, but they remain the most popular type of bank payment for businesses in the UK.


Each day, banks and corporations all over America gather ACH (Automated Clearing House) withdrawal and deposit requests into batches and send them to the centralized Automated Clearing House at set times. From there, the Clearing House sends the credit or debit transaction requests out, generally the following day. This system isn't the fastest. It can sometimes take several days for a payment or a deduction to clear. However, this is a low-cost system (most ACH transfers are free or only a few cents per transaction). It is one of the only USD domestic payments always to be credited in full.


Fedwire is a real-time gross settlement funds transfer system operated by the US Federal Reserve Bank that allows financial institutions to transfer funds electronically.


STEP2 is a Pan-European Automated Clearing House processing mass payment in euros. This platform is a vital clearing and settlement mechanism in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), both in processing volumes and participating organizations.