Settlement of Transactions in Foreign Exchange Markets

Foreign exchange markets make extensive use of the latest developments in telecommunications for transmitting as well settling foreign exchange transaction, Banks use the exclusive network SWIFT to communicate messages and settle the transactions at electronic clearing houses such as CHIPS at New York.


SWIFT is a acronym for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, a co operative society owned by about 250 banks in Europe and North America and registered as a co operative society in Brussels, Belgium. It is a communications network for international financial market transactions linking effectively more than 25,000 financial institutions throughout the world who have been allotted bank identified codes. The messages are transmitted from country to country via central interconnected operating centers located in Brussels, Amsterdam and Culpeper, Virginia. The member countries are connected to the centre through regional processors in each country. The local banks in each country reach the regional processors through the national net works.

The SWIFT System enables the member banks to transact among themselves quickly (i) international payments (ii) Statements (iii) other messages connected with international banking. Transmission of messages takes place within seconds, and therefore this method is economical as well as time saving. Selected banks in India have become members of SWIFT. The regional processing centre is situated at Mumbai.

The SWIFT provides following advantages for the local banking community:

  • Provides a reliable (time tested) method of sending and receiving messages from a vast number of banks in a large number of locations around the world.
  • Reliability and accuracy is further enhanced by the built in authentication facilities, which has only to be exchanged with each counterparty before they can be activated or further communications.
  • Message relay is instantaneous enabling the counterparty to respond immediately, if not prevented by time differences.
  • Access is available t a vast number of banks global for launching new cross border initiatives.
  • Since communication in SWIFT is to be done using structure formats for various types of banking transactions, the matter to be conveyed will be very clear and there will not be any ambiguity of any sort for the received to revert for clarifications. This is mainly because the formats are used all ove3r the world on a standardized basis for conducting all types of banking transactions. This makes the responses and execution very efficient at the receiving banks end thereby contributing immensely to quality service being provided to the customers of both banks (sending and receiving).
  • Usage of SWIFT structure formats for message transmission to counterparties will entail the generation of local banks internal records using at least minimum level of automation. This will accelerate the local banks internal automation activities, since the maximum utilization of SWIFT a significant internal automation level is required.


CHIPS stands for Clearing House Interbank Payment System. It is an electronic payment system owned by 12 private commercial banks constituting the New York Clearing House Association. A CHIP began its operations in 1971 and has grown to be the world‘s largest payment system. Foreign exchange and Euro dollar transactions are settled through CHIPS. It provides the mechanism for settlement every day of payment and receipts of numerous dollar transactions among member banks at New York, without the need for physical exchange of cheques/funds for each such transaction.

The functioning of CHIPS arrangement is explained below with a hypothetical transaction: Bank of India, maintaining a dollar account with Amex Bank, New York, sells USD 1 million to Canara Bank, maintaining dollar account with Citibank.

  • Bank of India intimate Amex Bank debuts the account of Bank through SWIFT to debit its account and transfer USD 1 million to Citibank for credit of current account of Canara Bank.
  • Amex Bank debits the account of Bank of India with USD 1 million and sends the equivalent of electronic cheques to CHIPS for crediting the account of Citibank. The transfer is effected the same day.
  • Numerous such transactions are reported to CHIPS by member banks and transfer effected at CHIPS. By about 4.30 p.m, eastern time, the net position of each member is arrived at and funds made available at Fedwire for use by the bank concerned by 6.00 p.m. eastern time.
  • Citibank which receives the credit intimates Canara Bank through SWIFT.

It may be noted that settlement of transactions in the New York foreign exchange market takes place in two stages, First clearance at CHIPS and arriving at the net position for each bank. Second, transfer of fedfunds for the net position. The real balances are held by banks only with Federal Reserve Banks (Fedfunds) and the transaction is complete only when Fedfunds are transferred. CHIPS help in expediting the reconciliation and reducing the number of entries that pass through Fedwire.

CHAPS is an arrangement similar to CHIPS that exists in London. CHAPS stands for Clearing House Automated Payment System.

Fedwire The transactions at New York foreign exchange market ultimately get settled through Fedwire. It is a communication network that links the computers of about 7000 banks to the computers of federal Reserve Banks. The fedwire funds transfer system, operate by the Federal Reserve Bank, are used primarily for domestic payments, bank to bank and third party transfers such as interbank overnight funds sales and purchases and settlement transactions. Corporate to corporate payments can also be made, but they should be effected through banks. Fed guarantees settlement on all payments sent to receivers even if the sender fails.

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