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.
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 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 the 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!