Global networks of money and information at the crossroads: Correspondent banking and SWIFT

Gary Robinson, Sabine Dörry, Ben Derudder

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Abstract

This article explores how transaction information is a fundamental element enabling and fostering global flows of money. Financial systems, constructed around account-based money, require infrastructure, which is separated into two parts: messaging and settlement, performed via trusted agents. This separation has allowed the geographical expansion of banking, and to this day constitutes a key architecture of increasingly global networks of money. Focusing on the correspondent banking system and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, this article demonstrates the workings of this infrastructure in cross-border payments and in enacting economic sanctions. This sociotechnical infrastructure is a crucial yet overlooked area of global banking, which makes global economic and financial activity possible in the first place. Importantly, by analysing the organizational architecture of the global payments system and including the actors and agencies within it, we elucidate the (changing) relationships between data/information, geographies and power, contributing to the formation of a literature that conceptualizes financial infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Networks
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • correspondent banking and SWIFT
  • cross-border payments
  • financial geographies
  • financial infrastructure
  • geopolitics
  • information networks

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