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There is no Alternative: SWIFT as Infrastructure Intermediary in Global Financial Markets

– Sabine Dörry, Gary Robinson and Ben Derudder –

A decade on from the financial crisis, it has become common practice to look back on what has happened since. Much of the focus has been on the regulatory response towards systemically important financial institutions who are too-big-to-fail. However, another group of systemically important actors has received less attention: financial markets infrastructure (FMI).

Commonly referred to as the financial “plumbing”, FMI is the backbone of the global financial system, yet to-date has received little attention from financial geographers. It comprises functions and services such as clearinghouses and securities depositories as well as processes and systems for payments, clearing and settlement. In our paper, we focus on the ‘mundane’ yet highly profitable and strategically important area of payments. In so doing, we zoom in on a singular and crucially important actor, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

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