SWIFT Reconnects With Iranian Banks Following the Removal of Sanctions

The Central Bank of Iran and participating banking subsidiaries have been reintegrated into SWIFT's global payments network.

The once severed connection between SWIFT, a global provider of financial messaging services, and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has been bridged, following the removal of key sanctions facing the country and an internationally agreed mandate last month, according to a CBI statement.

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The news follows on the heels of last month’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on January 16, 2016, in which Iran’s Central bank embarked on a process to rejoin the SWIFT network – the plan calls for the reintegration of all Iranian Banks formally barred under sanction.

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Overall, the combined process saw the involvement of leading representatives from both SWIFT and the CBI, having operated under the mantle of directives and guidelines compiled by the European Union (EU) and the Iranian Foreign Affairs office. The action was particularly steadfast, given the state of commerce existing in Iran, that had long since been starved from the international finance community. For this reason, the reactivation of Iranian banks was able to be completed in a relatively timely manner, lasting under one month.

More specifically, the entire process reached completion as of February 13, 2016, following a rigorous onboarding process that included both administrative and technical measures for non-sanctioned Iranian banks. It is worth noting that despite the widespread success of the initiative, several CBI subsidiaries and branches are still undergoing the onboarding process and are expected to be completed shortly.

According to Onur Ozan, Iranian Country Manager at SWIFT, in a recent statement on the reintegration: “SWIFT has completed the on-boarding process for these banks, and can confirm that they have now been reconnected to SWIFT. We will continue to work with the remainder of the entities that have applied to re-join SWIFT to ensure their smooth reconnection.”

Last month, SWIFT made headlines after it unveiled a new global payments innovation initiative, heralded by the membership of forty-five leading banks and investing institutions. The overall impetus behind SWIFT’s global payments initiative was the enhancement of cross-border transactions via the leveraging of SWIFT’s messaging platform capabilities and global outreach.

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