Payments in foreign currencies are becoming increasingly popular. Consumers with U.S. bank accounts can also benefit from this trend. International wire transfers is a method which banks use to send money between each other. Since the financial networks interconnect, most banks in the U.S. can receive international wire transfers. To make sure, the consumer should ask the bank.
Transfers Through SWIFT and NACHA
Many banks connect to the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network, or SWIFT. This network connects banks to each other in a secure way, so that they can exchange funds. Many banks are also members of The National Automated Clearing House Association. NACHA has 11,000 financial institutions as members. While these are mostly in the U.S., Canadian and Mexican banks can also use NACHA for electronic funds transfers. If a bank is a member of NACHA, it can receive funds electronically when transferred from an account in another NACHA member institution.
When receiving payments in currencies other than U.S. dollars, a correspondent bank has to exchange the money. Normally, consumers do not have to care about this, as the sending bank manages the contacts through the correspondent bank. Examples of correspondent banks are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.
Finding a SWIFT Member Bank
For consumers who want to use the SWIFT network, they first have to find out if their bank is a member. In that case, the bank will have a SWIFT code. Banks normally publish their SWIFT codes to make it easier for customers to transfer funds. Examples are Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. The SWIFT code together with the account number, makes international wire transfers between bank accounts possible. The transfers typically take three business days and have a fee.
Finding a NACHA Member Bank
To find out if the bank is a NACHA member, the consumer has to ask the bank. In that case, direct transfers between accounts are possible. Transfers from Canada or Mexico may have a fee, in particular when sending funds in Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos, which must exchange to U.S. dollars. Another possibility are banks that have their head offices in Mexico or Canada and affiliates in the U.S., such as Bancomer, Banamex, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Bank of Montreal.
Using International Banks
While many banks can receive wire transfers from banks abroad using the SWIFT system, they can also make transfers using their internal networks. U.S. banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup have their own affiliates overseas. Large global banks such as HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Mitsubishi UFJ Group have branches in the U.S.
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