How Corporations use the SWIFT MT101 Request for transfer

The SWIFT MT101 Request for Transfer is a payment initiation message used by corporations to send domestic and/or international payment instructions to their banks. The equivalent of the SWIFT MT101 message in the ISO 20022 standard is called the Pain.001 (Customer Credit Transfer Initiation). The MT101 message can be used in many ways and in various situations. 

The structure of SWIFT MT101 message (Text Block)

We will try to illustrate the common situations and provide some explanations for each of them. Before we go through all that, it is important to remember how the MT101 message is structured. You find the SWIFT MT101 format specifications here. The text block (Block 4) of that message consists of two main parts: Sequence A General Information and Sequence B Transaction Details.

The Sequence A is mandatory and contains debit party information like Sender’s Reference, Instructing Party and Requested Execution Date. The Sequence B is repetitive and must be present at least once in the message. There you find credit party information like Transaction Reference, Beneficiary and Remittance Information. It should be noted that the fields 50a (Instructing Party),  50a (Ordering Customer) and 52a (Account Servicing Institution) are all present in both sequences and optional. Up to the sender to determine in which sequence to put them depending on what he wants to do. We will get back to all that in detail when we will look at the content of the messages in future articles.

For now, let’s consider how the SWIFT MT101 message is commonly used by corporations.

Different usages of the SWIFT MT101
Typical usages of the SWIFT MT101 Request for Transfer by Corporates

In the picture above, a corporation (Corp. AB) sends a SWIFT MT101 to a concentrating bank. That bank is called concentrating Bank because it receives all instructions provided in the SWIFT MT101 regardless of whether those instructions are to debit an account held by that bank or an account held by another bank.

The concentrating bank can play the role of either a debtor bank or a forwarding bank. It takes the role of:

  • a debtor bank for the instructions that are to debit an account that it holds,
  • and a forwarding bank for the instructions that are to debit an account that other banks hold

Typical usages of the SWIFT MT101 message by corporations

In our example, the concentrating bank issues four messages after processing the SWIFT MT101 from the corporation. Let’s take a closer look at each case:

Case 1: In this case, the concentrating bank (in the forwarding agent role) forwards another SWIFT MT101. This message contains all the instructions that are to be forwarded to the receiver, the Debtor Bank. We assume there is only one instruction in the SWIFT MT101 that it receives. The Debtor Bank is the one that holds the account to be debited and therefore the one that can execute the instruction. A subsidiary of Corp. AB, the sender of the initial SWIFT MT101, has an account with the debtor Bank. Corp. AB, the parent company, is a party authorized by the account owner, its subsidiary, to send instructions. Corp. AB is the initiating party and therefore provides the account of the subsidiary as Ordering customer account in the SWIFT MT101. Note that the Debtor Bank processes the SWIFT MT101 and forwards a MT103 to the creditor Bank. If it receives many instructions in the SWIFT MT101, it may send an additional MT103, but not an MT101.

Case 2: Here the concentrating bank (as forwarding agent) also forwards another SWIFT MT101 Message. Like above, this message contains all the instructions that are to be forwarded to this receiver, the Debtor Bank. We assume there is only one instruction in the received SWIFT MT101. This time, the debtor Bank is simply another Bank where Corp. AB has an account. As a result, the debtor Bank processes the instructions and debits Corp. AB’s account. It sends a MT103 message to the creditor bank.

Interesting Remark: there are cases, where the creditor Bank can be the concentrating Bank itself. The Debtor Bank is then requested to repatriate funds held in an account it holds to an account held by the concentrating Bank. This is done usually for cash management purposes with a specific code in the SWIFT MT101. Again, we will come back to this in future articles.

Case 3: Here the concentrating bank sends a SWIFT MT103 to an intermediary Bank. It plays the role of the debtor Bank and therefore debits Corp. AB’s account that it holds and sends the funds to the intermediary bank which will then send it further to the Creditor Bank. This can be for instance an international payment where settlement happens through a correspondent bank.

Case 4: This is simple. The concentrating bank (in the role of Debtor Bank again) sends a SWIFT MT103 directly to the Creditor Bank. It debits Corp. AB’s account and credits the creditor bank. The creditor bank can be another bank inside a bank Group, or a bank reachable through a domestic interbank clearing system. To keep the figure clean, the creditor is not represented.

Let me highlight an important point (thanks to the valuable comment of a reader): Not only the Cross Border payments are initiated by Corporates using MT101. SWIFT MT101 can be used as well to initiate the local or in-country payment types such as RTGS, EFT, ACH, Cheques etc. This allows corporations to use a single standard format for the initiation of all the payables.

In conclusion, we saw that Corporations use the MT101 messages to send instructions to a concentrating bank that can either execute them (if it is the Debtor bank) or forward them (If it is the forwarding bank) to other banks holding the account to be debited. SWIFT MT101 can be sent to debit own accounts or accounts of a party authorized by the account owner, a subsidiary generally. Finally, the MT101 messages are used in Cash management to repatriate funds. In the next articles, we dig into the SWIFT MT101 messages in the different cases and analyze the content of messages. We will learn a lot. So stay tuned!


  1. Nice Article. I should also point out that its not only the Cross Border payments which are initiated by Corporates using MT 101. Even the local or in country payment types such as RTGS, EFT, ACH, Cheques etc..can be initiated using MT 101. There is a commercial reason for doing this that the corporate ERP has to generate a single standard Format to initiate all the payables. I work for implementing a Payment application in Canadian Bank and have seen Corporates using MT 101 for initiating all types of Payments.

    Looking forward to hear your thoughts/comments on this.

    • Hi,
      Thank you for your comment. I totally agree with you that corporates use MT101 for all types of payments.
      If you look at case 3 and 4, I have mentionned that payments can be international payments or domestic payments.
      I will update the introductory part of the article and the picture to highlight that and make it crystal clear for everyone.
      Thanks again for your valuable comment.
      Jean Paul

  2. Hi Jean,

    I must say it is possibly the best article on MT 101. It gave me a very good understanding of the working of MT 101, but there is one thing which i failed to understand – In case 1 and case 2 why would the concentration bank initiate another MT 101. Wouldn’t it rather pass on the same MT 101, which it received from AB Corp.?

    Apologies, if my question sounds weird, as i’m relatively new to SWIFT.

    • Hi Stuti,
      Thanks for your appreciation. In cases 1 and 2, the concentrating bank forwards the same MT 101. You got it right.
      So the concentrating bank must extract the MT101 to be forwarded to each destination bank and process the MT101 for which it is the debtor bank.
      I hope it clarifies.

  3. I am a banker working in the credit department.During my marketing visits.Some customers from the multinational companies told me that your bank has to have MT101 other wise we can not deal with you.It was my first time to know about it
    As I enjoyed reading your explanation above.Do think that I have to recommend to my bank to subscribe in MT101. From cost wise is it confined only to the subscription or we have to amend our it system to cope with it or it doesn’t need that.
    Thank you

  4. Hello. What is the difference between MT101 and SEPA xml (Pain.001)? Can a company in Europe send payment instructions (for vendor payments) to their bank in both these formats? What are the main differences?
    Thank you

    • Both messages are used to send credit transfer instructions to the bank. MT101 is a SWIFT MT message, based on the standard ISO 15022 MT which relates on flat files and tags. The Pain.001 is a message based on the ISO 20022 standard that relates on XML files and messages elements. The standard ISO 20022 is very rich and allows to carry a lot of information in the messages. So the Pain.001 can carry much more information than the MT101.

    • Hi,
      The TAG 21 of MT101 is not mapped in the MT103. It is used in reporting sent to the ordering customer about the MT101. The Ordering customer can use it to automatically reconcile the reporting with the original transaction. The TAG 21 of MT101 is not forwarded to the next party in the chain. I hope this helps.

  5. Hi Jean, I really appreciate your great work. I even bought your SCT book, it’s really detailed.

    Question: From MT101, how does a debtor bank identifies if a payment to be processed via SWIFT or Local RTGS or other Local CSM ?

    • HI Srikanth, Debtor banks generally look for the cheaper way to get the transaction to the beneficiary on time. If the receiver (next party in the chain) is in the same country, the transaction will go through the local CSM, if not the local RTGS. If the receiver is not in the same country, you need to go through SWIFT.

      • Thanks for your response Jean.
        I understand that, but I think the routing rules defined at the debtor bank will automatically decide if the payment has to be via a particular channel, especially in case of bulk MT101, pain001.

  6. Hi Jean,

    I have seen your tutorials about PAIN AND PACS. Great work.

    I am new to Swift and confused to identify which message type used for particular scenarios. 103 and 101.
    Can you give me a specific info to identify?

    Sorry to bother you.

    • Mt101 is when a ordering customer want to send instruction to debit account from a bank
      Mt103 is sent directly by bank who debits payment to end remitting bank skipping banks in between to advise that payment is coming to you . Exception is mt103 serial payment

    • Hi Munem, Thanks for your appreciation.
      MT101 are used in the customer-to-bank space while MT103 are used in the interbank space.

    • Hi,
      You can send a SEPA Payment with a MT101 but it is not able to carry all the information that you can put into a Pain.001.

  7. Thank you for this article. I am enlightened, however, I have a question. Is there a corresponding MT report sent out to the concentrating bank after the transaction order has been completed?

  8. Hi , thanks a lot for precious information. Please why do you say at the end of the fourth case:
    “…, the creditor is not represented”
    I think the creditor bank in the forth case is represented, maybe you mean : the beneficiary ?

    Best regards

  9. Hi, really appreciate the hard work.

    I have a scenario that i would like to pass to you guys and would like your views.

    let say concentrating bank (as forwarding agent) receives a MT101 from the sender requesting to debit there account from a debit bank where the credit bank is the concentrating bank. what would be the process and do the debit or the concentrating bank use MT101 only or need to use also MT103.

    I am only reading about MT’s today so sorry if my question is a no brainer.

  10. Hi Jean,

    Found the article very useful. In terms of the Wire Transfer regulation, do you think the concentration bank has any obligation? i.e. do they have to ensure payer and payee information is provided in the MT101?

    Also from an actual cash transfer perspective, what happens if the debit account does not have funds? How can the sender remit funds to the account to be debited?

  11. Hello Mr. Jean,

    This Article is well explained even for the people who are very new to the Payments world like me.

    Thank you.

  12. Hi Mr Jean

    The article is very informative . I would like to know the obligations/responsibilities of the forwarding agent in a MT101/Pain.001 before forwarding the message to the debtor agent

    Other than checking if the customer has an agreement to send the message to the forwarding agent and the message is valid, is the forwarding agent responsible for performing any other validations like sanction screening , RMA with debtor agent (MT1001 and pain.001 on SWIFT-CBPR+) ??

  13. This is really useful. Thank you for putting this together.

    Out of interest – how does brexit impact these scenarios (if at all)
    So client is EEA sending instructions to non eea bank. Or sending to eea subsidiary of non eea parent bank


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