What's a SWIFT? What's a BIC? Do finance words give you the ick?

Anna Allgaier

I work at Wise, obviously, so my finance talk has to be pretty fluent. But I too, used to be in the dark when it came to finance chat. I too, used to smile and nod when any of the below words came up. I, too, Googled said words and maybe still didn’t really get what they meant.

So in honour of past Anna, and present you, I’ve compiled a list of regularly used terms along with their meanings so you can step out of the dark into the warm, shiny light.

Teach me about low fees

Hello, what does “ATM” stand for?

We’re starting simple. Easing ourselves into what is yet to come. An ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is a “machine where you can withdraw cash from a bank account.” Or it is “a place you rarely go to anymore because people pretty much only accept card now.”

Pray tell me, what is “BACS”?

What the BAC is a BACS you ask? I’m here to answer. It stands for “Bankers Automated Clearing Services” which is when you make an electronic payment from one UK bank account to another. Personally, I feel like they’ve over complicated things with that name. Just some constructive feedback from someone whose opinion doesn’t really matter.

What is “BIC” and why does it sound so serious?

This, my dear friends, is a “Business Identifier Code” which is used to identify banks and financial institutions globally. Why we can’t just use their name is beyond me, but I don’t make the rules. Which is for the best, to be honest.

What is an “FCA”? Make my financial ignorance go away

The FCA is the “Financial Conduct Authority.” The bosses, the big dogs, the good guys, the regulators in the UK who protect consumers like you, make sure the industry is stable and promote healthy competition between different financial services.

What is an “Exchange Rate” and should I know this at my age?

Now we’re stepping into Wise territory. An exchange rate is the value of a currency when it’s converted from one to another. If you like affordable fees and mid-market exchange rates, we can be of assistance.

HELP. What is an “IBAN”?

One for all you globetrotters out there. An IBAN is a “International Bank Account Number.” So essentially a way to identify an account internationally to make cross-border payments that little bit easier. That’s nice. I stan for IBAN.

Am I the only person in the nation, asking the question “What is Inflation”?

Inflation is when the price of goods and services go up and we get less for our money as a result.

Ummm what is “Remittance”?

Again, another word that sounds way too scary and complicated. Remittance is when a transfer is made from one country to a person or business in another country. SUCH UNNECESSARY LANGUAGE.

And for the grand finale: What is a “SWIFT” code?

You’ve made it to the end of the list. Proud of you darlings. A SWIFT, AKA a “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication” (say that then times, I dare you). A SWIFT network is used when banks send payments to one another.

You’re done.

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